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10 tips for working with a staffing agency

Few things in life are as stressful as trying to find a new job. Sometimes you need to enlist the help of a staffing firm. Staffing firms work with companies to find the best candidates to fill open positions. For you, the job seeker, working with a staffing agency comes with its own unique benefits. Not only do the recruiters at staffing agencies help you learn about new opportunities that might not appear on job boards, they often coach you through the hiring process and provide helpful feedback and guidance. Working with a staffing agency also comes with its unique set of rules.

Follow these tips to enhance your experience of working with a staffing agency and make your next career move that much faster:

  1. Pick the right staffing agency. A good place to start when looking for a reputable staffing firm is the American Staffing Association’s online directory. Use it to find staffing firms in your area that specialize in the type of work you want and in your field of interest. If interested in representing you, a good staffing firm will set up an interview (via phone or in-person) to gain a better understanding of your background and what you’re looking for in your next position. A good staffing agency will also take the time to review your resume, offer feedback, and coach you through the hiring process. Whatever you do, never sign with a staffing agency that asks you to pay for placement. Reputable staffing firms don’t charge job seekers for their services - only employers.
  2. Ask questions. If you’ve never worked with a staffing agency, you’re probably a little confused by how the process works. In that case, just ask. Your recruiter should go over how the process works for submitting resumes, setting up interviews and following up, but if there are any lingering questions, don’t be shy. Remember: Your staffing agency wants you to succeed.
  3. Treat the interview seriously. Treat your interview with your recruiter as you would a real job interview. That means arriving on time, dressing appropriately and bringing copies of your resume and any other materials the recruiter asks for. Not only is it good practice, it also gives your recruiter a chance to provide useful feedback that can help you make an even better impression when it comes to the real thing.
  4. Be honest. Honesty is key to a fruitful relationship with your recruiter. The more candid you are about what you’re looking for, the better equipped your recruiter will be to find a job that meets your needs. It is also critical that you’re truthful about your employment history, including any previous employment problems, gaps in employment or potentially incriminating information that could show up in a background check. This gives you the opportunity to explain the circumstances, which the recruiter can explain (or help you explain) to hiring managers.
  5. Be open-minded. Even if you’re looking for a permanent, full-time job, be open to temporary or contract work. These positions could help you get experience in a new field, enhance your skills or get your foot in the door at a new company. Not to mention that temporary positions often get extended and sometimes turn into full-time positions. At the same time…
  6. Dig deeper. Maybe you interviewed with a company but still have doubts. That’s where your recruiter comes in. As the liaison between you and the company’s hiring manager, your recruiter may be able to answer any lingering questions you still have or clear up any confusion about the company or the role.
  7. Take advantage of free services. Many staffing firms offer courses and training to help you develop skills that will make you more marketable to employers. Ask about such benefits and take advantage of them, as well as any career counseling services the agency offers, such as resume writing or interview preparation.
  8. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Just as important as being open-minded is not taking a job you feel pressured into taking. If you truly feel something is not the right fit, say so and explain why. For example, perhaps the pay is below what you need or the location is less than ideal. Providing this information will help your recruiter find the right opportunities that are the right fit – and save both of you time in the long run.
  9. Keep your options open. A staffing agency can be a valuable resource when looking for a job, but don’t forget about your other job search resources. Keep searching job boards, networking and checking out social media. Just be sure to tell the recruiter if you’ve applied to any jobs directly and working with other staffing agenciess. This will help ensure your recruiter doesn’t submit you for a role you’ve already applied to, which can get you disqualified at some companies.
  10. Check in regularly. Make it a point to check in with your recruiter on a regular basis (say, twice a week), whether it’s to follow up on a job you applied to, update your status or simply stay top of mind. Just make sure you keep it professional and respect your recruiter’s boundaries. That means adhering to your recruiter’s preferred method of communication (phone, email or text) and not checking in more than once a week. Finally, keep in mind that your recruiter is probably juggling multiple candidates at once or waiting to hear back from employers, so be patient if he or she does not respond immediately.

Get smarter about your job search. Check out the glossary of recruiting terms every job seeker should know.