Understanding the different services that staffing firms offer

Understanding Staffing Firms

Jeanine Hamilton is founder and president of Hire Partnership, a minority- and woman-owned SOMWBA-certified, full-service staffing and workforce solutions firm serving Boston-area businesses.

How much do you know about the services staffing firms typically offer? The staffing industry has its own jargon and acronyms which can be confusing to those who don’t work in the field every day. And, whether you’ve partnered with a staffing agency once or many times, you may not be aware of the full range of services offered. To clarify some of these terms, here is a list of the staffing services typically offered with an explanation of how they work:

  • Contingency search — If you are seeking to hire someone for an open position, you may choose to perform a contingency search with a staffing firm. Staffing firms are paid only for successful searches; payment is typically a percentage of the candidate’s starting salary. You should expect a refund of the fee or a replacement if the candidate does not last for a specified period of time at your company.

  • Retained search — Employers can also retain a recruiter for a search by paying an upfront fee and giving the recruiter exclusivity for the job. The search may be more rigorous and take longer than other types of searches. Retained search is typically used to fill a senior level position and sometimes when other, cheaper search options have been exhausted.

  • Contract recruiting — A company needing to hire a large volume of employees may choose a contract recruiter. Under this arrangement, a human resources professional is hired from a staffing firm to recruit for a client company. The contract recruiter will work at the client company, under the direction of the client company. Typically the staffing firm and contract recruiter are paid based on an agreed hourly rate regardless of the number of candidates sourced and hired for the client company. Contract recruiting is often used as an alternative to contingency searches and it is also useful if the company is short-staffed in human resources and can benefit from having a recruiter on board quickly.

  • On-site management – This refers to an arrangement where one or more of the staffing firm’s internal employees will work at the client’s office. The staffing firm may provide temporary staffing, contingency search, or any number of other services.  This type of arrangement is desirable in situations where the client company has a high volume of recurring staffing needs and in situations where a large amount of coordination with company hiring managers is desired.

  • Payrolling – With this sort of employment arrangement, a client company will identify a candidate but will ask the staffing firm to put the person on the staffing firm’s payroll. You may see this service used for summer or casual labor, for bringing back a retiree or former employee, for hiring a consultant where a 1099 situation does not fit, or for situations where budgets or company policy do not allow for a full-time permanent hire.

  • Temporary help – This is what comes to mind for most people at the mention of staffing firms. With this type of service, a staffing firm recruits, screens, and hires employees in order to build up a large pool of qualified employees. These employees are assigned to the staffing firm’s clients for temporary periods of time and for duties as varied as mailroom coverage to executive level tasks. Most employers opt to use temporary staff because it offers them flexibility and access to talent.

  • Temporary to hire – This is also commonly referred to as “temp-to-perm.” For companies, it is similar to hiring temporary help except that the client will hire a temporary employee with the intention of evaluating the candidate for consideration as a member of their permanent staff. The advantage is that a client company can try out the candidate before hiring him or her. The disadvantage is that the candidate may continue his or her job search and accept a permanent position before you have made a decision to hire.

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