7 questions job seekers should ask to find the right staffing agency

Job seekers asking questions of a staffing agency
Job seekers asking questions of a staffing agency

Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for your first professional job or a more seasoned worker seeking a career change, a staffing agency could be the way to go. As more and more people enter the Great Resignation, hoping to find a better-paying job or a career with more advancement opportunities, competition is fierce.

On average, a job post receives 250 resumes, minimizing the chances a business will view your resume, let alone that you’d receive an interview request. This is where staffing agencies can change the game. But how do you know which staffing firm is right for you? Ask these seven questions before working with a staffing agency to find the right fit.

1. What do you offer a job seeker like me?

With dozens of companies like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed and even more job boards, applying for a job has never been simpler. So, if you’re going to work with a staffing agency, make sure you ask them what they offer. This ensures they provide the guidance, services, and connections you need–far beyond the simple ability to apply for a job.

Are you looking for an agency to help you update your resume and do mock interviews to best prepare you? Or do you want access to their job board? Either way, there should be alignment between what they provide and what you need. Great staffing companies offer:

  • A dedicated recruiter who takes the time to thoughtfully answer your questions and guide you through the recruiting and hiring process.
  • Connections to new opportunities (some that aren’t listed publicly) with top companies. They go above and beyond to ensure your experience with your new company is exceptional too!
  • A recruiter to represent you when presenting your resume and application to their clients (the companies that would hire you).
  • Services or workshops help you build professional skills, write impactful cover letters, or have career coaches conduct mock interviews. If they offer these services, take advantage of them–they can separate you from the competition.

2. What benefits do you offer?

It’s not uncommon for staffing agencies to connect you with contract roles–some are six-month contracts while others can be years long. Contract roles are a great way to get your foot in the door and can often transition into full-time roles. But contract roles don’t include benefits like health, 401(k), or vacation time, so you’ll want to ask the staffing agency if they offer any benefits.

Staffing agencies may offer some basic benefits, including:

  • Sick or vacation pay/PTO
  • Health, vision, and dental insurance

3. What fees do I have to pay to work with your staffing company?

You shouldn’t have to pay to work with a staffing agency. Period. Agencies work with companies that need to hire talent; those companies pay the agency, not job seekers like you. Make sure you get a clear answer about whether you have to pay an upfront fee or if they will take a cut of your paycheck. And if you take advantage of their health or other benefits, ask about the cost for those benefits too.

4. What industries do you work in (and which companies), and what jobs do you typically fill? 

Are you a creative marketer looking for a director-level role? If you work with a staffing firm that mostly fills large tech companies’ technical roles, you may be waiting a while to find your next role. There are agencies dedicated to creative roles and others dedicated to engineering and technical roles–you just need to find the ones that fill the roles you’re looking for.

Karrie Harris, an executive leadership coach, explains the different staffing agencies, including those that “focus on finance, tech, or marketing jobs, and some that focus on a little bit of everything. Who you work with will determine the contracts they have with different, large corporations.” You should do a little digging before committing to a specific staffing company.

Ask the staffing firm which companies they work with. If you want to work for a big tech company—like Google or Apple—you can send them your resume directly and compete with hundreds of other applicants. Or you can go with a staffing agency that works with Google or Apple and can get your resume in front of the hiring manager directly.

5. How long will it take me to get a job?

If you’re looking for a job, you probably don’t want to wait months to find the perfect role. Ask the agency how long it typically takes to fill roles like the one you’re looking for and set expectations on how long you’re willing to wait to find the right role. This is also a great time to ask about the interview process, whom you’ll meet with, and how long it takes from start to finish.

6. Are there full-time roles, or is there a potential for a contract role to go full-time/permanent?

Are you okay with a contract role, or are you looking for a full-time job? While many agencies offer contract roles, these often transition to full-time based on your performance. Ask the staffing company if their contract roles can go to full-time permanent, what that timeline looks like, and why the company (that would hire you) is hiring for a contract and not a full-time role.

The answers to these questions will help the agency set expectations and allow you to decide if you’re comfortable with a contract-only role or a contract-to-hire opportunity.

7. If I get hired (contract or full-time), will I be working for you or the hiring company?

LinkedIn suggests asking your potential staffing firm who you’ll be working for if hired. Will you be working for the staffing agency or the company that posted the job? Will your paycheck come from the agency or the hiring company? Who provides the benefits?

This provides clarity into how the staffing company operates and what a potential transition to full-time could look like.

Looking for your next staffing agency?

If you’re in the market for a new job, we can help. At SSI, we’re all about people and helping you find your dream job with a great company. We go above and beyond to ensure you have an exceptional experience, from our first meeting to after you land your first, second, or fifth role. And we’re happy to answer any of the seven questions above.

Interested in working with us? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find your next role, who we work with, and existing opportunities.


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