Employment Agencies

Some companies make extensive use of staffing or employment agencies in order to recruit for temporary, large volume, or hard-to-fill roles. A contract or temporary role is a great way to get ‘a foot in the door’ at many organizations.

How Third Party Recruitment Works

  • A third-party recruiter or staffing agency is contracted and paid by a company to fill particular job vacancies
  • In other words, while they will form a relationship with you, their primary responsibility is to satisfy the employer
  • Their success is determined by finding a candidate for the employer, not by finding a job for every person who contacts them
  • A search firm can only recommend you to employers who have engaged their services. As such, they are a limited resource for someone who is exploring their career options
  • Many third-party recruiters favour individuals who are currently employed and looking for a change, over those who are unemployed
  • Third-party recruiters are usually seeking candidates with considerable experience or very specialized skills

When You Contact an Agency

  • Be clear about your employment goals and experience
  • Ask for the person that specializes in your preferred interest
  • Have an updated résumé that you can forward immediately
  • Be prepared to ask questions about how the organization works (please seethe What You Need to Knows section on this tip sheet)


Using staffing agencies can be a part of your comprehensive job search plan. Since advertised jobs only account for roughly 20-30% of available opportunities, you need to uncover positions that are not advertised. Be creative, resourceful, organized, and open to all possible options. Tell EVERYONE you know you are looking for work in particular areas. Attend AA&CC events like Networking Nights, Volunteer Fair, Industry Talks, and Company Information Sessions. Research specific organizations with employer directories available online through CLN under Resources. Use LinkedIn to research companies and potential opportunities. Attend on-campus and off-campus conferences and network.


  • Attend a Jobs for Grads Orientation or the Work Search Strategies seminar (sign up on CLN under Events and Workshops)
  • You can set-up an appointment to meet with a career counsellor or employment coach, who can help you develop a comprehensive job search plan

“Temp” Agencies – How the Industry Works

  • “Temp ” agencies are staffing agencies that specialize in helping companies to fill short term or entry - level vacancies
  • The types of skills needed will vary, but the worker’s skill set is typically matched to the organization’s needs
  • Most office jobs will require basic computing, keyboarding, and filing skills. Expect to be tested on the key skills by the agency during your initial interview.
  • The tests are usually straightforward, and take time (2-3 hours)
  • Rather than receiving a lump sum for each placement, the agency may garnish a portion of a position’s hourly wage for their fee

The Pros and Cons of Working with Temporary Agencies


  • Besides giving you the chance to earn some cash, temporary work may give you an opportunity to explore different work environments, gain experience and make contacts
  • “Temping” also offers flexible scheduling, and the ability to turn down assignments if you are too busy, but be careful — turning down too many assignments can decrease your chances of getting others in the future


  • The most frequently cited drawbacks of temping relate to the temporary nature of the placement
  • Workers often feel like they are treated as second-class employees, with little employment security. Also, the work itself is frequently tasks that other employees would rather not do, such as filing, copying, and telemarketing
  • While these may be true of some placements, keep in mind the main reasons you are temping in the first place: to make some money, develop skills and contacts, and explore the world of work

A Word of Caution

Most staffing and temporary agencies are very professional in their dealings with job seekers. There are, however, individuals out there who may try to take advantage of your job search anxiety, so…

What You Need to Know

  • Does the agency have a particular industry focus?
  • What is their preferred method of contact? Is there a specialist recruiter with whom you should speak?
  • How long they have been in business?
  • Are there any online reviews or testimonials from clients?
  • Do they charge clients for any of their services?
  • How will your personal information be circulated to employers? Will they let you know before they send out your resume?


The following are a list of some resources available to you. Please note that the AA&CC does not recommend or endorse any agency or organization.

Last update: September 2014