What’s the Difference Between a Staffing Agency and a Temp Agency?

woman holding pen over resume searching for difference between temp and staffing agency onlineStaffing and Temp agencies are both part of a fast growing industry that provides jobs to over 16 million people every year.

Both types of agencies offer work in all sectors –  from industrial, to clerical, to healthcare, and more. Their reach is large enough that many job seekers have likely come across a staffing or temp agency at some point during their employment search. 

But what are staffing and temp agencies, and what’s the difference between the two?

In a nutshell, both agencies help people find employment. Because of that, they can often seem interchangeable.

However, though the services temp and staffing agencies offer sometimes overlap, the opportunities they provide tend to be very different. 

We’ll help clarify what distinguishes them from each other.

Here are 2 main differences between staffing and temp agencies:

1: Temporary vs. Long Term Work

Temp Agencies: 

Temp agencies staff for exactly that – temporary work. They offer short-term projects, usually lasting one day to one week. And it’s not uncommon for people working with them to be sent out to different job sites every day. Candidates often fill roles doing special projects, seasonal assignments or same-day work.

Temp agencies usually attempt to fill an urgent need for a company. They mostly work with manufacturing or warehouse companies who need extra labor for a short period, such as during the holiday seasons. A majority of the positions temp agencies offer are entry-level and light industrial in nature. 

Staffing Agencies: 

A staffing agency also offers temporary work. But unlike a temp agency, they provide a much wider range of opportunities including longer placements. Positions can be temporary, temp-to-hire, contract, and direct-hire. 

    • Temporary: Temporary roles are usually very short-term. They tend to be entry-level and light industrial. 
    • Temp-to-hire: These positions include a trial period, usually lasting 90 days, during which employees and employers decide if the job is the right fit.
    • Contract: Contract positions are usually more specialized roles that last for a specific timeframe.It varies, but for the most part, they last less than a year. 
    • Direct-Hire: In these types of roles, the job seeker is hired straight away by the employer for a permanent position. 

Staffing agencies provide many different types of jobs. They work with a wide array of industries, including administrative, light industrial, engineering, technical, and management. Even their shorter assignments can get extended or turn into long-term careers.

2: Immediate Employment vs. Right Fit

Temp Agencies: 

Clients of temp agencies have urgent needs to fill open positions. For them, it’s less about the ‘right fit’ and more about ‘right now.’

Since they need to place people fast, a temp agency’s interview process tends to be short and fairly superficial. They want to make sure you can do the job, but their goal is not to place you in a position that’s a perfect match for your skills. 

While a temp agency will find you work quickly, it probably isn’t going to be the job of your dreams – and it more than likely won’t end up becoming a long-term career.

Staffing Agencies: 

Staffing agencies place more of a focus on the candidate’s qualifications. Jobs are not one-size-fits-all. 

Employers working with staffing agencies want not only qualified candidates in the job, but someone who also has the potential to stay and grow with the company.

As such, a staffing agency’s interview process is usually longer and more in-depth. They will ask specific questions related to your experience and make sure they have a good assessment of what you bring to the table.Their goal is to place you in a position that is a good match. 

Overall, staffing agencies care about making sure it’s a right fit for both the employer and candidate, to fulfill the long-term needs of both sides.

Which Option is Best for You?

It depends. 

Both staffing and temp agencies might be a good job search partner depending on your needs. The key is to be fully aware of what each of them offers. Then, make sure you choose the type of agency that aligns with what you are looking for. 

Work with a Temp Agency if: 

    • You need immediate work.
    • You need money fast and are open to doing any type of job. 
    • You’re wanting to “test-drive” an industry. 
    • You wish to get some experience fast. 
    • You’re trying to fill employment gaps.

If you want more information on working with a temp agency, we have a helpful article on The Pros and Cons of Temporary Work. 

Work with a Staffing Agency if you: 

    • Finding the right fit matters to you. 
    • You want access to a larger variety of roles. 
    • You’re trying to enter a new industry or want to take the next step in your career.
    • You’re looking for a stable opportunity.
    • You want chances to grow in one company. 

Wish to learn more about work with a staffing firm? We have many resources on our blog, such as How to Make your Staffing Agency Work for You or 5 Great Reasons to Work with a Staffing Agency 

No matter what you decide, make sure you partner with a credible agency that can appropriately support you in your job search. There are over 25,000 staffing and temp agencies in the US, and not all of them will be a good fit for you. 

A great resource to find the top-rated agencies is ClearlyRated’ Best of Staffing® list. It highlights reputable employment firms across the country to help find the perfect one for you.

How TERRA Can Help You

If you find yourself looking for work, we can help.

From professional and technical positions to manufacturing and warehouse roles to administrative support, TERRA Staffing Group provides a variety of job opportunities. 

With offices in the Seattle/Greater Puget Sound, Portland, Phoenix, and Denver metro areas, we can connect you to many employers currently hiring near you. We specialize in temp, temp-to-hire, contract, and permanent staffing and have many employment opportunities available. 

To see some of the jobs we offer, check out our current job openings.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Call us. New jobs become available daily and the sooner we know of your interests, the sooner we can work with you to find the right fit.

(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.)

2 Comments

  1. I didn’t realize that temp jobs could be as short as one day. My sister is trying to figure out what she would like to do until her career job begins in the summer. I wonder if she would be interested doing different temp jobs until then.

    Reply
  2. I could say, “Temp Agencies” look for immediate position fillings and offer only temporary work. Employees & clients should know that temporary assignments do not last forever. Where as “Staffing Agencies” focus on the long term needs of their clients. They offer recruitment of qualified individuals and the permanent placement of full-time employees.

    Reply

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