For employers, an employment agency can take the grunt work out of human resources. Filling an open position takes time and money. The American Staffing Association estimates that hiring a worker can cost 7 to 20 percent of that position's salary and take 30 to 45 days to fill [source: American Staffing Association]. That can be pretty taxing to some companies, so it's worth their while to farm out the hiring process to a recruiter at an employment agency.
When a business needs a specific person for a job, it'll contract with a personnel placement services firm, also called a recruiter. The recruiter handles the search process and matches up an employee with the job in question, lining up potential candidates who interview with the company.
For senior-level management positions, a company may choose to hire an executive search firm, also known as a headhunter. An executive search firm works under a retainer agreement from the hiring company and uses a set code of standards to identify and place workers in these highly visible positions.
When a company just needs a vacation fill-in or someone to work for a few months, it uses a staffing agency. Staffing agencies provide skilled employees to work on a temporary or contract basis. Some employers also use staffing agencies as recruiters in positions known as "temp to perm," meaning the position is temporary, but it could lead to a permanent position if the worker and company are a good fit.
For job seekers, an employment agency can be the ticket to getting that full-time job. The public employment service is free and offers a lot of tools. Recruiters can open doors to positions that may not be easy to find on your own. Staffing companies allow you to try out different companies and industries, and they're also great for those looking for short-term or part-time work.
Another bonus of using an employment agency is access to training. Many employment agencies offer free training in a variety of skill-building tools, such as software programs and computer skills. Those who take advantage of these skills can build up their resumes, making them more marketable for the employment agency.