Why You May Consider Working for an Agency (With FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many ways to find work, but one common way involves using an experienced third-party such as a hiring firm or employment agency. These agencies connect companies that have vacancies with promising candidates to fill their open roles. Understanding the nature of working with an agency is key to deciding if using one to find work is a good fit for you. In this article, we explain what working for an agency means, describe the types of jobs agencies fill, outline the hiring process, and provide tips for working with hiring firms.

What working for an agency means

Working for an agency is a common way for people to find employment opportunities and get hired. Hiring firms find qualified employees to fill specific positions based on their prior experience and the skills they possess. Using an agency to find employees saves companies the time, effort, and money it takes to conduct their own hiring. Those who work for agencies usually have transferrable skills, such as proficiency with administration tasks. An agency can find them either several temporary opportunities or longer-term employment.

Related: 10 Job Search Tips To Use If You Need Help Finding a Job

Types of jobs agencies fill

Employees found through agencies tend to have a wide variety of skills that are easily transferrable from one job to the next, depending on how specialized the roles are. Here are the types of work for which agencies put people forward:

Temporary

This is work with a defined start and end date and is usually a contracted role. "Temp" work can be full-time but can also be a part-time position as well. Those hired to work in temporary positions usually have the broadest skill sets and have short timeframes in which to get set up in the role and learn their responsibilities.

Related: What Are Contract Jobs? With Tips, Challenges, and Benefits

Temp to hire

This is an arrangement where it's agreed that the company assigns an employee under temporary terms until such a time that they determine whether they're a good fit for longer-term employment. During this time, the initial period is like a trial, and employers evaluate the skills the candidate shows, whether their personality fits the workplace, and if their needs align with the candidate's availability. If they decide to hire the staff member permanently, the company may pay an additional buyout fee to the agency.

Direct hire

In this instance, an agency works as a recruiter to assign a staff member in a permanent position. Agencies can use their portfolio of potential candidates to find employees, usually who are actively seeking permanent employment. These positions are usually more specialized than those which are more temporary.

The hiring process

Here is the process that employers and agencies use to hire prospective employees:

1. Employer contacts agency

The process begins when an employer with an open position contacts and agency for their service. Many agencies specialize in particular industries and are able to understand the needs of companies in their field more comprehensively. The company communicates the key job responsibilities, how many employees they need, the hiring timeline, and wages or salaries they'll pay.

2. Agency creates job description

The agency uses the information gained from the company to create a job description for the role before advertizing it on the business's behalf. On some occasions, hiring firms may approach individual candidates if they already know that they could be a good fit and that the role is what they're looking for. Some agencies hold a portfolio of candidates to whom they can advertize the offer, while some agencies seek new ones through traditional channels such as job sites or public job boards.

Related: Interview Preparation Tips

3. The agency vets candidates

Once the agency has a collection of potential candidates, they begin reviewing each one's experience and qualifications. This is to narrow the selection down to only those who may progress to the interview stage. When the hiring firm has their shortlist of the most qualified people for the role, they present these candidates to the company to arrange interviews.

4. Employer makes the hiring decision

Whomever is responsible for the making the hiring decisions, whether that be a hiring manager, the business owner, or department manager, then interviews the candidates. They finally decide which candidate gets the job, and offer the candidate the job. Through this process, the company in question has spent far less time finding and vetting potential candidates that it would have if they hadn't used an agency.

5. Agency handles the paperwork

Finally, the agency tends to handle the necessary paperwork involved in hiring new employees. These include contracts, payroll information, and tax forms. This is another way in which agencies relieve the company of tasks that take time, effort, and resources.

Tips for working with an agency

Here are a few tips for finding work by signing up with an agency:

Be clear about your needs

Agencies aren't just for finding the best people to match a company's needs, but also for finding roles that suit a candidate's requirements. Communicate with the agency about your preferred wage or salary range, the hours who want to work, or the type of work you want to do. The more you tell the agency about the work you want, the better they can help you find positions that are suitable.

Diversify your transferrable skills

Even though you may fill positions temporarily, a few key transferrable skills can mean that you get hired more often for a greater range of roles. Transferrable skills such as proficiency with professional office software suites, customer service skills, or typing can all help in a wide range of positions and give you an advantage finding work. Gaining as many of these skills as you can either on the job, or through training portals can be helpful to those finding work with agencies.

Maintain a positive relationship with the agency

If you're an employee in an agency's portfolio, maintaining a proactive personal relationship with the agency can mean they consider and recommended you more often. Regularly communicating with an agency and signing up for updates can help with this. Try to make it known that if an agency tries to contact you, you're quick to respond.

Find the right agency for you

There are many types of agency. Some specialize in temporary assignments, while others tend to operate more like recruiters. Agencies can specialize in different industries too, which means there might be a hiring firm better for getting you the positions you want if you target specific types of work such as communications, labouring, or customer service. Make sure you research a few agencies before approaching one to find the best fit for your requirements.

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions commonly posed about hiring agencies:

Who pays the agency?

Companies that hire candidates through agencies usually pay the firm between 25% and 100% of your wage. That means that if the company pays you $12 an hour, and the agency has a 50% markup on your service, the company pays the firm $18 an hour for every hour you work in addition to paying your wages. Agencies may also charge companies a buyout fee if they wish to keep an employee permanently.

Are agency employees lower value?

A common misconception is that employees who find work through an agency only do so because they couldn't secure employment themselves. This isn't true, and there are many reasons why someone might want to find employment though a staffing firm. Those who like flexibility or variety often enjoy finding temporary work through agencies. Employees who find many positions through agencies can even pick up a greater variety of skills than those who stay in one role for a long time.

Do you need to have many skills to get work through an agency?

Agencies find work for all skill levels. If you don't hold many advanced skills, you can still find assignments with more basic responsibilities while you upskill on the job. Try to choose an agency that specializes in assignments that suit your level of skill.

Do agencies take a cut of your wage?

Agencies do not take a cut of the money you earn by working for a business. Hiring firms earn money directly from the company they assign employees to as a service they offer. The wage or salary that companies pay employees goes to them for the work they do.

For how long do companies hire temporary employees?

A hiring agency can assign candidates to fill positions from as short as a few hours to as long as permanent employment. In some cases, businesses may need someone to complete remedial tasks or help out with one-off events. Otherwise, a company commonly fills positions for a few weeks or months at a time. Occasionally, the length of time a company hires an employee for is undefined and continues indefinitely.

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