Staffing Agencies, Outplacement Firms, Headhunters, In-house Recruiters, and Career Coaches, Oh My!

Making Sense of Recruiting Agencies and Job Search Services

--Five Must Know Distinctions for Deciphering the Employment Market

It's a fact of life that looking for a job is time intensive and exhausting.

Today's job seeker will come across a variety of resources that provide overlapping services.

Don't go down the wrong rabbit hole!

Differentiating between service providers will help you spend your time with the right people. 

Understanding the Staffing and Recruiting Landscape

One of the first things you'll notice is there are different types of service providers: 

  • Staffing agencies

  • Outplacement firms

  • Search firms

  • In-house recruiters

  • Career coaches

Let’s try and make sense of it all so you can understand in a nanosecond who you’re dealing with.  

#1 --So what’s a staffing agency anyway?

Traditional staffing agencies are larger organizations. They tend to  work with clients and job seekers in the local market.

Most have hundreds of offices across the country. The primary revenue source for these companies is supplying clients with temporary labor. 

Agencies work with both large and small companies in the local market. Temporary assignment length can vary depending on the reason for the opening.

Reasons for openings include:

  • Maternity coverage

  • Sick leave

  • Job vacancy

  • Labor shortages due to periods of increased workloads

  • Ability to quickly fill critical positions

Staffing agencies focus on positions delineated by functional expertise.

For example, there are a number of staffing firms in these functional areas:

  • Accounting

  • IT

  • Legal work

  • Office administration

  • Healthcare, Nursing

  • Marketing and Creative

  • High-level financial consulting

Well-known and regarded staffing firms include: 

  • Kelly Services

  • Aerotek

  • Robert Half

  • Manpower

  • Randstad

  • Adecco

How do staffing agencies work?

Staffing agencies test applicants on specific skills, check references, and conduct interviews.

The staffing agency sends registered applicants out on assignments to their client companies.

Assignment lengths and frequency can vary as do the nature of the assignments.

The staffing agency is the employer of record. Contract employees report to the staffing agency as well as the line manager at the job site. The agency takes their direction from their clients. 

Believe it or not, if the client is unhappy with the temp's job performance, they may fire the staffing agency, or ask them to replace the contract worker.

#2--What is and outplacement company?

Outplacement firms work with employees who are exiting an employer. Employers procure outplacement services during times of separation.

Outplacement firms help job seekers get back to work faster by providing an array of services. 

Well-known and regarded outplacement firms include:

  • Challenger Gray & Christmas

  • Get Five

  • Lee Hecht Harrison

Outplacement firms may provide the following services:

  • Resume writing

  • Career coaching

  • Job skill development

  • Interview coaching

  • Job search services

#3--What about executive recruiting firms, search firms, and headhunters?

Recruiting firms go by many names:

  • Headhunters

  • Direct placement firms

  • Executive search firms

  • Agency recruiters

  • Independent Recruiters

Headhunters work for a variety of clients at once. They help clients find talent for specific openings on a direct-hire basis.

They are usually engaged on many searches at once, with multiple clients. Most of the positions they fill are a high-priority for their client companies.

The recruiter works on behalf of the employer to identify potential candidates. Recruiters fill positions based on parameters and requirements set by their clients. 

Keep in mind that headhunters are agency recruiters who work for their clients.

They are not employees of their clients.

There is no fee charged to the candidates they represent.

They act as intermediaries between employers and job seekers. 

Most executive recruiting firms take on mid, senior, and executive level searches. Very few recruiters in this category work on positions with base salaries of less than 50K. 

Most of the ‘job seekers’ they recruit, are not in active job search mode.

#4—In-house Recruiters also known as Talent Acquisition Managers

In-house recruiters are working on a variety of positions for their sole employer. They recruit for roles assigned by hiring managers, department heads, or functional groups. 

Because in-house recruiters work alongside hiring managers, they have first-hand knowledge of the employer.  

New hires become colleagues and life-long friends of the in-house recruiter.

They collaborate with current and past employees to drive internal referrals, network, and source new recruits. 

If you apply for a position through a company’s website, you will work with an in-house recruiter.

Many in-house recruiters are generalists with some sub-specialties.

Although they may not know every detail about a particular role, they are experts on the inner-workings of the organization and should never be under-estimated.

#5--Career Coaches

Individuals hire career coaches. A career coach provides services to individual job seekers and career changers.

Unlike outplacement firms and headhunters, career coaches work directly for the job seeker.

Career coaches may provide the following services:

  • Resume Writing

  • Interview Coaching

  • Job Placement Services

  • Career Transition Assistance

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The Takeaway---Pick Resources that are Useful for You and Your Situation

Next time you find yourself knee deep in a job search, use this information to understand who may help you and what you can expect.

Which of these resources can you use to enhance your job search?

Which ones are a waste of time for you? 


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