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Counseling and Staffing Services

Two woman talking over papersPersonnel staffing services and contract firms can be excellent job search resources. Organized as private or nonprofit public entities, they specialize in service to specific groups of companies and employment clients. For example, a common field such as information technology will be the focus of dozens of contract firms in a large metropolitan area. A smaller number of staffing firms may work specifically to assist people with disabilities in finding jobs.

Each firm is unique and may provide a combination of blended services. The type of services offered may be influenced by whom they represent: you or the employer. Generally, their focus is on matching your skills with the job openings of employers or companies. Depending on your circumstances and needs, these outsourcing companies benefit you in securing employment. They fall into several categories.

Staffing/Recruiting: Employers use staffing services to assist them in filling their job openings. Staffing agencies recruit, perform extensive interviewing, check references and submit only the most qualified applicants to the employer. Some staffing services offer a bulletin board service where job orders and/or resumes are posted and job seekers and employers interact without any agency interference.

Job Search Training: CareerForce locations and other job centers around the country, as well as staffing services, offer specific training in job search skills to enable you to successfully find your own job. To locate a facility near you, try CareerOneStop. This training may include individual workshops and materials on a variety of job search topics. Classes, which usually are free, focus on skills identification, resume writing and interviewing. If offered by private companies a fee will be charged.

Career Counseling and Planning: If you're looking for a job or entering the labor market for the first time, consider talking with a career counselor to help you with self-assessment, knowledge of the labor market, employment trends and training opportunities. These companies offer aptitude, interest, personality and skills testing to help you with career changes and to fulfill your potential by matching you to employment opportunities.

Outplacement or Career Transition: When companies downsize their workforces, some firms provide laid-off employees with outplacement assistance such as job search workshops and materials, phone rooms, job leads, resume design, a job club and employment counseling. Ask your employer if these services will be provided.

Temporary and Contract Employment: These firms refer you to temporary employment opportunities as requested by an employer who specifies the job requirements and time period of the work assignment. You work for the temporary or contract firm during this time and they pay you. By performing well you may get a full-time offer after your contract ends. Some positions, however, fill only short-term or seasonal needs, such as during the holiday rush or in summer.

Benefits of Being a Contract Worker

Of the personnel service arrangements available, being a contract or temporary employee is the most advantageous. By working in contract jobs you can build skills and meet financial needs while continuing to look for permanent work. It's easier to get a job when you have a job. You might get more flexible hours or working conditions to accommodate your personal situation as well as help with transportation, testing, training, child care and health care.

This type of employment can also be useful for those who need to gain work experience, develop skills, get training or increase networking contacts. It's also a good way to check out an employer or an occupation before making a commitment to training, a career path or a particular employer. Personnel staffing services that offer temporary or contract employment provide a variety of services and options for the job seeker, but keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Check into the firm's reputation. Determine if any fees will be charged for services before accepting or signing anything.

  • These type of firms work with the job market daily and can provide valuable information that's helpful in your job search. Treat them as you'd treat a potential employer because they can expose you to many opportunities that are otherwise not available.

  • If you're working with a contract or temporary staffing service, don't assume you can sit back and wait for jobs. Continue your search.

  • Temporary firms are your employers when you're on assignment for them. Ask about items you need to know before you agree to accept employment. You need to know the pay rate, benefits, estimated length of assignment, the chance of becoming an employee of the company and what's expected of you. Also, let them know the hours and days you're available, your overtime availability, and your transportation and salary needs.

  • Consider the secondary objectives of the service. An example might be career counseling provided by training or educational institutions. They may have a primary interest in enrolling you in their training program for funding reasons.

  • Check out their placement rates and services with the Department of Education, Better Business Bureau or with former students.

  • If you're receiving unemployment insurance benefits, you should realize short-term wages may affect eligibility and benefit amounts.

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