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Staffing Industry Overview

The Staffing Industry is made up of the following types of firms:

  • Temporary Help Services
  • Direct Placement Firms
  • Blended Services (Temporary Help Services/Direct Placement Firms)
  • Executive Search Firms
  • Professional Employer Organizations

These staffing organizations may be generalists or can specialize in a specific placement niche such as:

  • Office, Industrial, Trades, Legal, Technical, Medical, Home Care, Specialized Executive Search

Within those specific placement niches, firms may handle many types of placements or be highly specialized.

In the USA, the first employment agencies were founded in the late 1800’s.

They include: The Employment Exchange 1880 and Engineering Agency (now General Employment Enterprises/Triad Personnel) 1893.

While years back, employment agency (direct) placement fees were primarily paid for by the applicant (candidate). Today, the client companies pay most all employment agencies fees.

(Average direct placement fee: 25% of candidate’s annual salary)

The temporary help service industry has the majority of customers.

In 2001, revenues in temporary help were: $66 billion; direct placement: $10 billion.

According to the American Staffing Association, over 90% of USA companies utilize temporary help.

While several came before (including Nugent and Stivers Personnel), Kelly Services (founded in 1946 as Kelly Girls) is considered to be the founder of the “modern day temporary help service”.

Office workers and industrial/laborers made up most of the temporary workers through the 1990’s.

Today, name the job and there is most likely a temporary employee performing it!

  • Lawyers, teachers, scientists, physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, medical assistants, graphic designers, computer software engineers, fashion designers, and even ministers!

And while the staffing really developed early on in North America, it is now a global industry.

There are three and one-half times more temporaries working in Europe than in the USA today.


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