Are Employment Agencies Worth It?

Are Employment Agencies Worth It?

You submit job application after job application. You’ve read all the job-hunting books, you’ve carefully tailored your resume and cover letter to each position you’ve applied for, you’ve searched all the appropriate websites and maintained all the appropriate social media profiles, and…nothing has worked for you. There is no work. Then you ask yourself, “Are employment agencies worth it?”

There are many types of employment agencies that assist job seekers in obtaining employment opportunities. So, you can decide to use the services of an employment agency in order to find your next position in today’s intensely competitive labor market.

Now, it is time to shed more light on the question “Are employment agencies worth it?

What Are Employment Agencies?

Wikipedia defines an employment agency as an organization that matches employers to employees. In developed countries, there are multiple private businesses that act as employment agencies and publicly-funded employment agencies.

An employment agency is a business that connects businesses with job seekers. Multiple private firms and a government-funded employment agency exist in industrialized countries.

Employment agencies find people to fill all kinds of jobs, from temporary to full-time, in a number of career fields. Whether a company needs a nursemaid, an administrative assistant, a manager, or a carpenter, an employment agency can find a suitable employee.

Now that the question “Are employment agencies worth it?” has been treated let’s look at the different types.

Types of Employment Agencies

1. Public Employment Agencies

In 1650, Henry Robinson came up with the idea for a “Office of Addresses and Encounters,” which would connect employers and workers. The British Parliament didn’t like the idea, but he tried to start a business of his own. It didn’t last long. As time went on, the idea to set up public employment agencies as a way to fight unemployment became more common in developed countries.

Social reformer Alsager Hay Hill set up the first labor exchange in the United Kingdom in London in 1871, and it was the first one in the country. This was later bolstered by official exchanges that were set up by the Labour Bureau (London) Act 1902, which then spread across the country thanks to the Labour Exchanges Act 1909, which was passed by the Liberal government. Jobcentre Plus is the name of the government agency that helps people find jobs now.

In the New Deal in the United States, a government program to help people find jobs was set up. The Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 was the first piece of legislation. Since 1998, job services have been provided through one-stop centers set up by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

When the Commonwealth Employment Service was set up in 1946, it was the first Public Employment Agency that was set up by the government.

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2. Private Employment Agencies

After Robinson, Gabbitas & Thring, the first known private employment agency was set up in 1873 by John Gabbitas. He hired teachers for public schools in England. People in the United States first started a private job agency in 1893. Fred Winslow, who lived in the US at the time, started an Engineering Agency.

As time went on, it became part of General Employment Enterprises, which also owned Businessmen’s Clearing House (est. 1902). It was started by Katharine Felton in response to the problems caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Another of the oldest agencies was started by Felton.

3. Traditional Employment Agency

A traditional employment agency helps job seekers find work, as well as businesses when they need to hire new employees. Even though this is becoming rarer and rarer, some companies still charge job seekers for their help. As soon as possible, let them know that you’re going to have to pay for their service.

The employer pays for other traditional job boards. Many agencies specialize in a single field, like sales and marketing, accounting, human resources management, sports, or IT job searches. Most of the time, we don’t think it’s a good idea to use an agency that charges the job seeker.

Considering how many agencies are hired by employers to find the best job candidates, most people will do just as well to send their resumes to these agencies for free.

READ ALSO: Why Do I need Executive Headhunters for My Company’s Recruitment

4. Contingency Employment Agency

A contingency agency only gets paid if their candidate is hired by the company they work for. You should be sure to find out who pays the fee for the contingency agency before you sign up. Most of the time, these types of firms are used for jobs at the low and middle levels. They send a lot of resumes to the company.

When you apply for a job through a contingency agency, you’ll likely be competing with people who found the job through the company’s HR department, job boards, and even other recruiters.

4. Search Firms that are hired to look for people

A retained search firm has a one-on-one relationship with the company. Executive and senior-level searches are usually done by search firms. They are usually hired for a set amount of time to find someone to do a job. These companies specialize in finding and contacting the best candidates they can find for a company.

They often even try to get executives who aren’t looking for a new job to leave their current company to see if they can get them to work for them. Retained search firms pay for their own expenses and a percentage of the salary of the person they find, even if the person doesn’t get hired. This is called “headhunting.”

Retained agencies will be very careful when they send the candidate’s qualifications to the hiring manager because their agreement with the company is to show only the best candidates for the job.

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5. Temporary or Temp Agency

Temporary agencies are companies that help people find jobs that last for a short amount of time. There are times when businesses hire temps, such as during tax season, when harvest time comes around, or when people are sick or on vacation, to help out. People who work for temp agencies also often help to find jobs for professional consultants to do for a short time.

Many temporary agencies have expanded their roles in the job market to fill “temp to perm” jobs, which are jobs that start out as temporary but could become permanent if the employer hires the candidate.

You might be put on a “retainer” by a temporary staffing agency, like Spherion. This means they keep you on file and send you temp jobs as they come up. The staffing agency is the employee’s official “employer.” They are the ones who pay them.

They might also offer things like health insurance, child care allowances, or vacation pay. Their new employer pays people who work for a staffing agency when their job turns into a long-term one.

Pros and Cons of Employment Agencies

Are employment agencies worth it? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages associated with them.

Pros of Employment Agencies

The advantage of employment agencies is that you’re paying for the help of someone who knows what they’re talking about. Often, employment agencies work directly with employers and have a better idea of what they want in a worker. They may also know about jobs that you wouldn’t know about on your own.

People who work for agencies can also help you be a better candidate for the job. That’s how they get paid. So, they’ll often (but not always) help you out, whether it’s giving you advice on your resume or preparing you for your big interview, but it’s not always the case.

SEE ALSO: What if Candidate Fails Background Check After Job Offer?

Cons of Employment Agencies

The chance for fees or commissions is at the top of the list of disadvantages of employment agencies. If you pay a fee for a job and then don’t like your new job, quitting may end up costing you money in the long run. Other problems can happen if you don’t communicate well with your company.

Because, if they send applications on your behalf without telling you first, they could send their own application to the same business, which would be unprofessional. If you show that you’re desperate for work, the agency may not work as hard to find the best job for you or get you the best pay.


When looking for a job, you can use employment agencies to help you find a job. However, make sure not to fall into the trap of relying too much on recruiters. Many employers now use job boards like Indeed or Monster to find new employees, while others get staff recommendations from inside the company and use them to find new employees.

FAQs On Employment Agencies

Why do companies use agencies?

Using a recruitment agency gives businesses the benefit of increasing or decreasing their employee levels as needed.

Can an agency help you find a job?

At a staffing agency, companies pay the agency to find employees for them.

Do I have to pay a fee to an employment agency?

Sometimes—it depends on how they’re structured. The employer pays some employment agencies. The job-seeker pays other agencies. This could involve an upfront fee or (more likely) a percentage of the salary you land in your new job.


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