Should I Take a Job Through A Staffing Agency?

My job seeking clients ask lots of questions about recruiting firms and staffing agencies.  In future blogs I’ll explain some of their differences and help you try to identify firms better positioned to help you.

Today I’ll cover the specific question about whether you should accept a position through an agency.  I hope to provide some background so you can make a more informed decision.

First, there’s no cost to you as the job seeker.  The “contract” exists between the agency and the employer.  The agency makes its money by invoicing the employer an agreed upon amount for each hour you work.  That amount will vary, but it covers not only your compensation, but the agency’s overhead and profit margin.

More and more companies are going the agency route to “try you before they buy you.”  The cost of terminating an employee, both in time and potential legal fees, as well as lost productivity, can be high.  It makes sense to use the agency in case they don’t want to keep you for whatever reason.  And those reasons could run from ‘you’re just not a good fit for our company’ to ‘business is slow.’

Why should you agree to work when there’s a chance the employer won’t keep you?

It’s a foot in the door.  With more companies doing the “try you before they buy you,” it may be your quickest, best chance to show an employer what you can do.  Most agencies have an arrangement with the employer such that the employer can hire you as a direct employee – without having to pay the agency an extra fee – once you’ve worked a certain number of hours.

Additionally, an employer may see what a great employee you are and ask the agency to let them hire you before that agreed-upon number of hours has been reached.  Employers may do this since they realize a job hunter ideally wants something more permanent and is likely to continue looking for that better long term situation. They don’t want to risk losing you.

Another reason to accept the agency assignment is, well, it brings in money.  I’m sure you’ve heard it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.  While it’s tougher time-wise, you DO have more leverage with new employers if you’re currently working.  Besides, the contract is between the agency and employer, so there’s nothing binding you to that agency’s assignment.

Why might you turn down the agency assignment?  Perhaps your financial needs aren’t as strong.  You don’t need to accept something less than a full time permanent position as a direct hire.  I already mentioned the time issue.  Working 40 hours takes away a big chunk of your week.  Do you want to tackle that challenge?

Deciding whether to accept an agency assignment is a calculated risk.  Holding out for that direct hire job may not always be in your best interest.  Talk to some agencies to better understand the associated pro’s and con’s and then make the best choice for your situation.  Good luck!