Types of Employment Services
There are several types of employment services you may encounter in your job search. There are temporary employment agencies, contract services firms, and permanent employment agencies. Each one serves a different purpose, but all have the primary goal of finding qualified candidates to fill job openings. Most employment services work on behalf of the employer. Generally, it is the employer who will pay them, so beware of agencies that ask for a fee before they will place you.
Temporary Employment Agencies
Temporary, or “temp,” agencies can be a viable option. Often they specialize in clerical and support work, but it's becoming increasingly common to find temporary assignments in other areas, like accounting or computer programming. Working on temporary assignments will provide you with additional income during your job search and will add experience to your resume. It may also provide valuable business contacts or lead to permanent job opportunities.
Temporary work appeals to people for a variety of reasons. It can be a wonderful way for a recent college graduate to gain much needed experience. Those who like variety might find that temping is just what they need. Parents who want flexibility in work hours might also benefit from temporary jobs.
Temporary agencies often advertise in the help-wanted sections of newspapers. You can also find them listed in local telephone directories.
Contract Services Firms
Firms that place individuals on a contract basis commonly receive job orders from client companies for positions that can last anywhere from a month to over a year. Most often, contract services firms specialize in placing technical professionals, though some do specialize in other fields, including clerical and office support. Most contract services firms don't charge a fee to the candidate. For more information on contract services, visit Contract Employment Weekly at
Permanent Employment Agencies
Permanent employment agencies are commissioned by employers to find qualified candidates for job openings. The catch is that their main responsibility is to meet the employer's needs — not necessarily to find a suitable job for the candidate. This is not to say that permanent employment agencies should be ruled out altogether. Permanent employment agencies specializing in specific industries can be useful for experienced professionals. However, they're not always a good choice for entry-level job seekers. Some will try to steer inexperienced candidates in an unwanted direction or offer little more than clerical placement to experienced applicants. Others charge a fee for their services — a condition that job seekers should always ask about up front.
Some employment agencies are looking to simply fill positions as quickly as possible. These agencies are interested only in what work you can do, not what work you want to do. To them a job seeker is simply a commodity from which they hope to earn money, in the form of a commission or fee from an employer. As long as you stay at a job for a specified length of time, they will earn their money. If you are not interested in a particular job, speak up.
Some permanent employment agencies dispute the criticisms mentioned above. As one recruiter puts it, “Our responsibilities are to the applicant and the employer equally, because without one, we'll lose the other.” She also maintains that entry-level people are desirable, saying that “as they grow, we grow, too, so we aim to move them up the ranks.”