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Staffing Firms Can Provide Opportunities

Nov. 5, 2012

Skip Marsden


Close to 2.8 million people are employed by staffing companies every business day, according to the American Staffing Association (ASA) in Alexandria, Va.

But why would anyone want temporary work? How would you benefit working for a temp agency if you are looking for long-term work and need things like health benefits?

"We do all the legwork," replied Diane Lowman, owner/manager of Express Employment Professionals in Hickory. "Instead of using time, gas and money to search for a job, come to our office, go through our process, and apply to multiple companies with one stop," she adds.

Things have changed in the temp agency world. The term, for one: "staffing firms" instead of "temp agencies." And, many firms offer the full range of employee benefits, including major health, dental, vision and paid holidays. Of the local companies that responded to a request for information, Express Employment and AccuForce offer benefits from day one of employment, and Manpower, according to branch manager Amy Powell, after two weeks.

Working through a staffing agency gives you a foothold into a company. Demonstration of your skills and your quality of work can result in a permanent position with that client. The company is familiar with your work and how you fit in, and when a full-time position becomes available, you have the inside advantage over other applicants.

The "try it before you buy it" maxim works for the employee as well as the client company. You become familiar with the inner workings of a company -- its pluses as well as minuses. You are better able to determine if working permanently with that company is something that will fit your needs.

Flexibility is another benefit. You can fit work around family and other pursuits, such as school, for example. Another is that once an assignment is complete, you're not out of a job, but can move on to another assignment. If you've ever gone through a layoff, you know how traumatic cutbacks are.

Why do companies go through staffing firms?

"A lot of companies are afraid to hire directly for different reasons, but have chosen to outsource their needs to agencies," said Tonya Wilson, regional manager for AccuForce in Hickory.

"With all the uncertainty in the future for the economy due to various factors," said Lowman, "businesses do not want to hire core employees just to have to let them go after a few months."

As business demands fluctuate, a company can adjust its workforce accordingly. While an employee assignment through a staffing firm's client may be for a short period, but that employee continues to work for other companies on new assignments.

And business, for the staffing firms, has been good. "We currently have approximately 600 employees, and an additional 220 plus have been hired permanently through the Newton office," said Powell.

Local firms vary in the type clients they work with, which dictates whom they hire. Personnel Specialists focuses more in the manufacturing arena: light industrial, packaging, inspecting, warehouse, shipping and receiving jobs, according to Heather Carswell, office manager. They also place clerical staff. AccuForce fills clientele needs from industrial and clerical, to professional, information technology, and engineering. Express Employment fills the same plus medical and health-care needs. Manpower places from CEO levels to entry levels.

Qualifications of employees for most staffing firms start with a high school education or a GED. Depending on the position, more education and skills may be required. Some firms provide free training in clerical skills and some basic computer skills. That training helps to make the associate more employable.

Firms look at experience, job longevity, leadership qualities, and most standard qualifiers in hiring associates.

"'Attitude is everything' signs are all around our office, and plays a huge factor in placing people," said Lowman. "The candidate has to want to help themselves for us to even consider them."

Note: Several staffing agencies in the Hickory area were given the opportunity to respond to question regarding their services. Only AccuForce, Express Employment, Personnel Specialist and Manpower responded from those contacted.

Source: (c)2012 the Hickory Daily Record (Hickory, N.C.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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