How Do Staffing Agencies Work? 5 Tips for the Employer

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Does your business need short-term help during a busy period? Are you short-staffed, yet not ready to hire a full-time employee? Maybe you're wondering, "How do staffing agencies work — and do I need one when I have only temporary or seasonal hiring needs?"

Hiring solutions come in all sizes: Full-time, yes, but also temporary, temporary-to-hire, contract and project. Whatever your hiring needs, a top-rated, professional staffing agency can give you quick access to highly skilled professionals you might not find on your own. That both eases the workload and provides peace of mind that none of your important projects will be delayed and no details will slip through the cracks.

So how do staffing agencies work — and how can you work most effectively with them? Here are five tips for maximizing your experience as a staffing agency client.

1. Engage a specialized staffing agency

Robert Half's recruiters have taken the time to get to know our company, and it seems that they can pick out the perfect candidates for us. With their expertise, we are now having to choose between several great candidates for each placement. I’d say that’s a pretty wonderful position to be in!

Carol B., medical firm


When you work with a staffing agency, make sure they specialize in the type of staff you need. Non-specialized or generalist firms work with a broad variety of candidates, so finding someone with the exact skills and qualifications you need will be more difficult and take longer than if you work with a firm that's focused on your field.

In addition, specialized staffing firms have a better sense of the candidate marketplace in your industry and geographic area and can effectively evaluate candidates' experience and skills. Getting a good match the first time saves you time and money.

2. Communication is key

Try to speak with a staffing manager directly rather than communicating only via email. He or she will ask you about your staffing requirements and the length of time you need extra staff.

Make sure you create a job description that completely describes the position's responsibilities so your recruiter knows the skills the candidate must have. (We've come up with a blueprint for creating a job description that can simplify the process.) Mention any policies your business follows such as dress code, hours (including how you handle overtime) and breaks. These details will help your representative get a sense of your corporate culture and what type of professional is likely to succeed there. When you feel you've clearly defined your needs, let the recruiter know. He or she will start the search immediately.

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3. Get ready, get set

Robert Half saved us months of time in the hiring process. It was a simple email to state what we needed, make our selection from the list of available candidates provided and set a start date! Much simpler and faster than the traditional hiring process.

Tom M., government agency


Prepare your business and the office itself to accommodate a temporary professional. You can maximize the benefits of temporary staff to your company and your team by setting up in advance. Create a designated workspace, for example. If a computer or phone is necessary, make sure it is installed and functioning before the interim worker's first day. And once you've brought in your new temporary worker, make him feel part of the team:

  • Ensure a smooth start by providing an orientation as you would for any new staff member. Make all appropriate team introductions and designate a point person for any questions that may arise.
  • Be inclusive and encourage team bonding by inviting the temporary worker to staff functions such as lunches, team meetings and other group efforts.
  • Check in with temporary professionals, as well as the staff members they interact with, to evaluate performance. Even if interim workers have the necessary skills, it's important to achieve a good fit with your corporate culture as well.

4. Follow up

Providing feedback about the new worker to your staffing agency representative helps both the recruiter and yourself with any future talent searches. Notify the agency at once if there are any problems, and let the recruiter know what specific aspects of the individual's performance have stood out.

5. Weigh the fees vs. costs

For you, the client, there are fees associated with using a staffing agency, but the overall cost is typically a net savings for you if you go with the right firm. Because finding qualified, skilled employees can be time-consuming, you save time and money when you turn this process over to staffing experts. Plus, the most reputable staffing agencies are likely to offer a satisfaction guarantee. So if you aren't happy with the employee, the firm will identify a replacement.

Communicate your goals and needs to the staffing agency recruiters every step of the way, and you'll be in the best position to maximize your working relationship with them.

Nine out of 10 of our customers would recommend Robert Half's services to a colleague. Learn why our satisfied clients work with us to find skilled job candidates.