April 11, 2014

How to Get the Most Out Of Working with a Staffing Firm

businessman picking a pictureIn a volatile and competitive job market, job security can be elusive. Statistics show that many job seekers take as long as seven months to find a new job. After a job loss, many professionals simply don’t know how to job search. They rely on common venues, such as online or print classified ads and job boards. However, the masses look there, too, and your resume will often be one of hundreds sent in response to a vacancy. Many employers don’t trust resumes they pull from a pile; they trust referrals. This is where a staffing firm or recruiting agency can get you in the door by matching you to the right employer.

Choosing the Firm

  • Before you attempt to sign with a staffing firm, make sure they specialize in your field. Firms typically specialize in placing workers in one or a few specific industries ranging from marketing to health care to graphic design. As a result, they have extensive networks and relationships to serve those targeted fields.
  • Ask the firm for numbers on how large their pool of job opportunities is for you field. Inquire about how many workers of your skill level have found permanent work through them in the last three months. Compare these stats for several firms to make sure you choose the hardest working firm with the right connections.
  •  Ask to set up a meeting with a firm you select. Take an updated resume, certifications and anything else that can attest to all the skills and experience you have. Reveal all your talents – you never know what unique trait will resonate with a potential employer.

Negotiating the Contract

  • When you sign onto an agency, you are an employee of a staffing agency so negotiate pay with them.
  • Just like on a regular job, agree to contract only when the benefits offered appeal to you. Staffing firms may offer medical plans, paid vacations and bonuses. Many also have reward systems.
  • Never agree to pay a firm for placement. Services should be free; firms get paid by employers as they place workers.

Job Assignments

While staffing firms are able to place some job seekers immediately in 40-hour a week jobs, often they have a medley of nontraditional job opportunities. Don’t refuse jobs because they are not full-time or a definite portal to a new career.

  • Ask the staffing recruiter to prioritize permanent placements for you, but express a willingness to take any assignment for the experience.
  • Until a permanent full-time job becomes available, use a temporary job assignment to get your feet in the door at a company. Temporary contracts typically last three to five months; however many employers extend contracts far beyond that window. Some even offer a permanent position to impressive temporary professionals. These jobs are called temp-to-hire positions—and they are the second most important job placement you should seek.
  • If you are planning a career change, sample a new niche by agreeing to be assigned to an entry-level job in a new field.
  • Take advantage of the flexible job schedule to find the type of hours you like working. Staffing firms can offer day jobs, night jobs, weekend jobs, seasonal jobs, short-term or long-term jobs as well as part-time gigs.

Professional Development

Staffing firms put their reputations on the line when they accept job seekers and send them out to a job. Therefore, most of them are willing to contribute to the development of workers.

  • Job placement firms may offer courses to enhance a range of skills. Many of these courses are taught online. Enroll in as many as you can so that your hours off between jobs won’t be wasted.
  • Take advantage of job preparation services, such as cover letter and resume services as well as career counseling.
  • At the best firms, a mentor at the staffing agency will be a personal guide for every phase of your job search. So, consciously forge a great relationship with this person so that you can receive the best help with interview preparation and transitions to new jobs. Many mentors will even meet you at the job site on your first day.

Using a staffing firm will ensure that you aren’t one of those people futilely applying to online jobs night after night with no hope in sight.

Read more in Employment Agencies

Judi Wunderlich has been a leading recruiter for over 20 years. In 2009 she co-founded the WunderLand Group, a staffing and recruiting firm which focuses on contract and full time job opportunities in Marketing, Advertising, and Digital Design & Development. WunderLand has offices in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Connecticut. Judi’s position allows her a unique view of hiring trends, and she has written about and spoken at numerous conferences on hiring, career trends, and the use of social media for job seekers and hiring managers alike. Connect with Judi on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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