Recruitment is crucial to a company’s success and to employee job satisfaction. Staffing agencies play an important role in this process, matching companies with candidates who have the skills and experience required to meet their specific needs.
In this article, we offer you a comprehensive guide to the role and operation of employment agencies. First, we’ll define the field, then describe the recruitment process and the advantages of employment agencies. Then we’ll guide you through choosing an agency, preparing to work with one, and discussing industry challenges, regulations and trends. Finally, we’ll look at working with an overseas staffing agency and the key success factors for professionals.
Are you ready to discover how employment agencies can transform your career (or your need for manpower)? Read on to find out more!
Defining the domain and key aspects
It’s essential to understand the definition of an employment agency, as well as the different types of agencies and their specialties. We also need to identify the various players involved in the field, in order to gain a better understanding of the operational and strategic environment in which these organizations operate.
What is an employment agency?
According to the Grand dictionnaire terminologique of the Office Québécois de la Langue françaiseAn employment agency is a public or private organization that distributes job offers and requests, providing job seekers with a referral service to potential employers, and employers with a recruitment and selection service for the manpower they need.
Agencies manage the entire recruitment cycle, from identifying the employer’s needs to the final selection of the most suitable candidate.
It’s important to distinguish between a “placement” and a “job”. A “placement” refers to the process of successfully matching a candidate with a job position, orchestrated by an employment agency. The “job”, on the other hand, is the specific position for which an individual is finally hired, and is the result of the placement process.
Staffing agencies offer a range of services tailored to the specific needs of employers and candidates. Indeed, depending on their specialization, they may focus on specific areas, such as specialized recruitment in a given sector or profession, or temporary placement to fill short-term positions. More on this in a few paragraphs. For the moment, let’s try to understand the different types of employment agencies.
What types of employment agencies are there?
Various categories of employment agencies exist, offering a range of services and specializations to meet the varied needs of employers and candidates in the job market. Here’s a table showing the main types of agency.
|General staffing agency||Offers recruitment, selection and placement services in all sectors.|
|Specialized staffing agency||Offers specialized recruitment, placement and consulting services in specific fields.|
|Temporary employment agency||Focuses on recruiting and placing temporary workers.|
|Long-term staffing agency||Specializes in long-term recruitment and placement.|
|Executive staffing agency||Provides executive search, selection and consulting services.|
|Online staffing agency||Offers recruitment, selection and placement services using digital technologies.|
|Cross-sector staffing agency||Offers recruitment, selection and placement services in a variety of fields.|
|International staffing agency||Offers recruitment, selection, placement and international relocation services.|
|Student staffing agency||Focuses on student-specific recruitment, selection and placement.|
|Remote staffing agency||Specializes in recruiting and placing teleworkers.|
To know which one to choose, it’s essential to understand the different types of staffing agency.
In the complex and constantly evolving field of recruitment, it’s essential for employers and candidates alike to be well informed about these different options, in order to choose the agency best suited to their specific needs.
By gaining a better understanding of these different types of agency, we can better grasp the role they play in the overall recruitment process, and identify the different players involved in the field.
the various players involved and their responsibilities
To better navigate the employment agency landscape, it’s crucial to identify and understand the different players involved in this field.
- Placement Consultants / Recruiters
- Identify job vacancies and understand job requirements.
- Search for and identify potential candidates.
- Assess candidates’ skills and experience through interviews and evaluations.
- Introduce qualified candidates to client companies.
- Manage communication between candidates and client companies throughout the recruitment process.
- Account Managers / Sales Representatives
- Establish and maintain relationships with corporate customers.
- Understand customers’ recruitment needs.
- Present and sell the agency’s services to potential customers.
- Coordinate with recruiters to meet customers’ recruitment needs.
- Apply for jobs through the employment agency.
- Participate in interviews and assessments.
- Communicate their employment needs and preferences to the agency.
- Accept or refuse job offers proposed by the agency.
- Customers / Companies
- Provide information on vacancies and their requirements to the agency.
- Participate in the candidate selection process.
- Communicate their candidacy preferences to the agency.
- Accept or reject candidates proposed by the agency.
- Administrative Staff
- Manage the administrative and logistical aspects of the recruitment process.
- Prepare contracts and other documents related to hiring.
- Ensure coordination between all the players involved in the placement process.
It is therefore essential for anyone wishing to use the services of an employment agency to fully understand these players, in order to understand their responsibilities and what to expect from others. That way, we can make the most of it when it comes to understanding the recruitment process.
Understanding the recruitment process
To better understand the recruitment process, it’s essential to examine the services offered by employment agencies, the internal workings of these agencies and the different types of candidates they handle.
The services offered may vary from one agency to another, but generally include the search and selection of qualified candidates for temporary or permanent positions.
In addition, an in-depth analysis of agency operations will identify the strategies and methods employed to meet the specific needs of clients and candidates in various professional sectors.
What services do employment agencies offer?
Staffing agencies offer a multitude of services designed to facilitate the recruitment and hiring process for both companies and candidates.
Here is a concise list of the services offered by employment agencies:
- Recruitment and selection of candidates
- Skills assessment
- Background checks
- Human resources management
- Recruitment strategy consulting
- Career advice
- Preparing for an interview
- CV writing
- Training and skills development
- Search for job opportunities
Read our article on the services offered by staffing agencies for more details!
Using placement services not only eases the burden of the hiring process, but also of the job search itself.
To fully understand how to make the most of these services, it’s important to take a closer look at how employment agencies work as a whole.
Understanding how employment agencies work
Understanding how employment agencies operate is essential to optimizing their use and taking full advantage of the benefits they offer in the recruitment process. Recruitment firms work closely with their customers to identify their specific needs, then source and shortlist candidates who match these requirements.
They can use a variety of methods, such as online recruitment, professional social networks and internal databases, to find suitable candidates. Once this selection has been made, the agency generally organizes interviews between the client company and the selected candidates to assess their suitability for the position.
Finally, a placement offer will be made. This is a formal proposal made by an employment agency to a candidate for a specific position. If the candidate accepts, the agency receives a commission based on the new employee’s annual salary, or a fixed amount agreed with the customer. This in-depth understanding enables companies to choose the right recruitment agency to meet their needs, while ensuring an effective partnership with them.
Read our article on the recruitment process, step by step, to learn about all the essential and optional actions.
The collaboration between the company and the agency then continues to meet the specific needs of different types of candidate.
The different types of candidates
Having understood how employment agencies work, it’s essential to examine the different types of candidates they work with.
Staffing agencies work with a variety of profiles, including jobseekers looking for permanent contracts, temporary workers looking for one-off assignments, and consultants and experts in their field offering their services for a fixed period. There are also various types of contract depending on the nature of the applicant, as you can see in our article on types of employment contract.
By studying these different categories of candidates, we can better understand how these agencies tailor their services to the specific needs of each.
So we can finally explore the advantages these agencies offer in terms of recruitment and career coaching.
What are the advantages of employment agencies in Canada?
Employment agencies offer a number of advantages for both employers and job seekers. Below are simplified lists of the benefits of doing business with them.
- Save time by pre-selecting qualified candidates
- Lower recruitment costs
- Access to a large pool of qualified talent
- Management of administrative procedures related to recruitment
- Help in finding suitable candidates for specific positions
For Job Seekers
- Personalized support throughout the job search process
- Access to a wide range of employment opportunities
- Help with CV writing and interview preparation
- Access to exclusive job offers
- Flexibility with temporary or part-time positions
The list of benefits is long, for both employer and employee. See our article on the essential benefits of working with an employment agency for a more detailed portrait.
In short, whether you’re an employer looking to recruit or an individual looking for work, working with an employment agency can be a beneficial and effective option to meet your specific needs. It’s a solution that facilitates and optimizes the matching of supply and demand on the job market. Let’s take a look at how you can choose which agency to work with.
How do I choose a staffing agency?
When selecting an employment agency, it’s crucial to consider a number of factors. We take a quick look at some tips for making an effective choice.
It’s also important to understand how these agencies are remunerated, and how much an employer should expect to pay for their services.
6 Tips for choosing a staffing agency
Here are some important points to consider when choosing to work with an agency:
- Agency specialization: Choosing an agency that specializes in your sector of activity or the type of position you’re looking for can be very advantageous. These agencies have a deeper understanding of the roles and skills required, and generally have a stronger network in these specific areas.
- Reputation and references: How do you know if an agency is legitimate? Research their reputation. Online reviews, recommendations and references can all give an insight into the experience you can expect with an agency.
- Preliminary interview: During your first contact with the agency, take note of whether they take the time to understand your needs and objectives. A good staffing agency should seek to understand your career aspirations or business needs.
- Communication: Communication is an essential part of the relationship with a staffing agency. Agencies should provide regular updates on the search process, and be readily available to answer your questions.
- Terms of service: Before signing up with an agency, it’s important to understand their terms of service. For example, what are their costs? What is their recruitment process? Understanding these details from the outset can help avoid misunderstandings in the future.
- Existence of a permit: To validate the legitimacy of an employment agency, you can always ask them to show you their permit issued by the CNESST to operate in Quebec.
Taking these factors into account will not only help you narrow down your choice, but also give you a better understanding of which staffing agency will work best for you. Let’s take a look at how these agencies are remunerated.
How are employment agencies paid?
Understanding how employment agencies are remunerated is essential to managing your expectations and optimizing your investment in the search for jobs or candidates.
If you’re a candidate, you’re probably wondering whether recruitment agencies take a cut of your salary. In fact, in Canada, employers generally pay recruitment agencies for their services, not candidates. So working with a recruitment agency shouldn’t affect your potential salary.
Specifically, agencies are paid by client companies for each successful placement, based on a certain percentage of the placed candidate’s annual salary. Here are some key points to note about staffing agency remuneration:
- Fees generally range from 15% to 25% of the candidate’s gross annual salary.
- Some agencies charge a flat fee rather than a percentage.
- Most agencies offer a replacement guarantee or a refund if the candidate is not suitable for the client company within an agreed timeframe.
- Corporate clients can negotiate fees with the agency according to the volume of business or placements planned.
- For temporary positions, the agency generally charges an hourly rate that includes the temporary worker’s remuneration, as well as its own expenses.
With this information in mind, it will be easier to assess how much you should pay an employment agency when it comes to establishing a win-win relationship between all parties involved.
What is the staffing fee?
A placement fee is a sum of money charged by a recruitment or staffing agency to a company for the services of searching for, selecting and placing qualified candidates for a vacant position.
These fees generally cover the time and resources spent by the agency on advertising the position, shortlisting candidates, arranging interviews, checking references and other aspects of the recruitment process.
In Canada, the average cost of using a recruitment agency can vary considerably depending on the type of position to be filled and the skill level required. However, it is common for agencies to charge between 15% and 25% of the recruited candidate’s first annual salary.
For example, if a company hires a candidate for a position with an annual salary of $100,000 and the recruitment agency charges a 20% placement fee, the company will have to pay the recruitment agency $20,000. This may seem an impressive sum, but the advantages mentioned above are worth considering. Saving time can sometimes make up for it!
In addition, you should carefully consider whether it is worth using these agencies in view of the costs involved, and possibly compare them with other, more cost-effective methods such as in-house recruitment or via professional social networks. Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to get ready!
Preparing to work with an employment agency
When preparing to work with an employment agency, it’s essential to consider several crucial aspects, depending on whether you’re a job seeker or a worker. Let’s take a quick look at a few essential steps for each.
For the Job Seeker
As a job seeker, working with an employment agency requires careful preparation and a structured approach. Here are some key points to consider:
- Preparing your job search with an employment agency:
- Analysis of skills and experience
- Active search for job opportunities
- Building a solid professional network
- Preparing your CV for an employment agency:
- Tailoring CV content to sector-specific requirements
- Clear structure and relevant information
- Inclusion of sector- or job-related keywords
- Presenting your profile to employment agencies:
- Customized approach for each agency
- Clear, regular communication
- Solid professional references
- Preparing for the recruitment interview:
- Company and position research
- Preparing for potential questions and developing convincing answers
- Mastering body language
- Tips for working with an employment agency:
- Clear communication of professional goals and expectations
- Proactivity and regular updates
- Honesty about specific needs
- Maintaining a cordial and constructive relationship with recruitment consultants
By following these key steps, you’ll be well prepared to work effectively with an employment agency, increasing your chances of success in your job search. Let’s take a look at the key steps for the employer.
For the employer
For an employer, working with an employment agency can be an effective way of optimizing recruitment processes. Here are five key steps to prepare for this collaboration:
- Clearly define recruitment needs:
- Identify the positions to be filled and the skills required.
- Establish the ideal candidate profile in terms of experience, training and skills.
- Choosing the right staffing agency:
- Evaluate the agency’s specialization (business sector, job types, etc.).
- Examine the agency’s reputation and references.
- Prepare company and job information:
- Provide detailed information about the company (culture, values, etc.).
- Precise description of the role to be filled (responsibilities, working conditions, etc.).
- Establish effective communication with the agency:
- Ensure regular and open communication with the agency.
- Provide feedback on proposed candidates.
- Optimizing the interview and selection process:
- Determine the interview process (questions to ask, evaluation criteria, etc.).
- Work closely with the agency during the selection phase.
By following these steps, employers can take full advantage of working with an employment agency to find the best talent for their company.
By preparing yourself properly to work with an employment agency, whether you’re the candidate or the employer, you’ll be able to start the process with greater peace of mind. Let’s now look at how to manage the challenges and risks associated with employment agencies as you move forward in your career.
Managing the challenges and risks associated with employment agencies
The risks associated with employment agencies are varied and can include, among other things, poor selection of candidates or non-compliance with current regulations.
In order to prepare a discussion around these issues, it is important to identify the specific challenges faced by employers and workers when working with these agencies.
In addition, it will be essential to establish strategies for dealing with these difficulties, including determining what actions should be taken in the event of a problematic or conflictual situation with an employment agency.
What are the risks associated with employment agencies?
Despite the undeniable advantages of staffing agencies, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with them in order to make informed decisions and avoid unpleasant surprises.
These risks include the risk of not finding the right candidate or the right job, which can mean lost time and money for both employer and job seeker.
In addition, there is a risk of non-compliance with labor regulations, such as occupational health and safety legislation or laws on discrimination and harassment.
Finally, you also need to consider the potential cost to the company in terms of reputation if it chooses an unscrupulous agency or one with a bad reputation.
Faced with these challenges, it’s crucial to learn how to navigate wisely in this complex environment to take full advantage of the services offered by agencies while minimizing potential problems.
What should you do if you have problems with an employment agency?
Knowing how to deal effectively with problems encountered with an employment agency is essential to ensuring a fruitful collaboration and resolving any potential conflicts.
The first step is to communicate your concerns clearly and calmly to the agency, providing specific examples of the problems encountered.
If the situation doesn’t improve after this discussion, you can consider asking for a change of consultant or seeking the intervention of a line manager.
In some cases, it may be necessary to terminate the contract with the agency and look for another partner to meet your recruitment needs.
However, before doing so, it’s important to exhaust all other options in an attempt to resolve the problem amicably.
Once you’ve taken these first steps, it’s also a good idea to study the regulations and standards governing the operation of agencies, to make sure that your rights are respected and that you have the information you need to make an informed decision.
Understanding regulations and standards
Non-disclosure agreements are an essential element in the operation of an employment agency, to protect the confidential information of clients and candidates.
Reviewing regulations and standards enables agencies to ensure that they comply with legal requirements on hiring, remuneration and working conditions, while guaranteeing a fair experience for all concerned. In Quebec, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) is the body that regulates labor standards, including for workers in personnel staffing agencies.
Finally, the Importance of regulatory compliance for employment agencies cannot be underestimated, as it minimizes the legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance, while reinforcing the confidence of customers and candidates in the professionalism and ethics of the services provided.
In recruitment, non-disclosure agreements ensure the confidentiality of client and candidate information. They protect sensitive data such as business strategies and financial information. This preserves trust and guarantees the protection of candidates’ personal data.
Review regulations and standards
Employment agencies must comply with all applicable regulations, including personal data protection, equal employment opportunity, fair pay and the rights of temporary workers. Respecting these standards strengthens the agency’s credibility and avoids legal or reputational risks. Here is a small table of central laws and regulations affecting employment agencies.
|Act respecting labour standards (LSA)||R.S.Q., chapter N-1.1||This law governs several aspects of work, including working hours, pay, vacations and public holidays. It also applies to employees of employment agencies.|
|Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)||R.S.Q., chapter S-2.1||The OHSA aims to eliminate hazards at source. It applies to all Quebec workers, regardless of their status (including those working through employment agencies).|
|Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (LATMP)||R.S.Q., chapter A-3.001||This law offers workers protection in the event of an accident or occupational illness, including those employed by employment agencies.|
|Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector||R.S.Q., chapter P-39.1||This law governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of a company’s activities. This includes employment agencies that process the personal data of candidates and employers.|
|Regulation respecting personnel staffing agencies and temporary foreign worker agencies||R.S.Q., c. N-1.1, r. 3||This CNESST regulation specifies the obligations of employment agencies and temporary foreign worker agencies, including the obligation to hold a permit issued by the CNESST.|
|Pay Equity Act||R.S.Q., chapter E-12.001||This law aims to correct the wage gap caused by systemic discrimination against people working in predominantly female job categories. It also applies to employees of employment agencies.|
|Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms||R.S.Q., chapter C-12||The Charter provides a framework for people’s fundamental rights. In particular, it prohibits discrimination in hiring on grounds such as age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, language, social condition or disability.|
It is advisable to consult a legal professional for precise and up-to-date information, as this table does not necessarily cover all applicable laws and regulations.
regulatory compliance for employment agencies
Compliance with regulations ensures the long-term success of an employment agency. Important aspects of compliance include checking candidates’ backgrounds and qualifications, complying with employment and contract law, and protecting personal data. Mastering these elements contributes greatly to the success of an employment agency.
In short, the successful management of an employment agency depends on effective confidentiality agreements, scrupulous respect for current regulations and standards, and the crucial importance of regulatory compliance. These three aspects play an essential role in establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust with customers and candidates, while ensuring ethical and legal practice.
In the next section, we’ll look at an equally important aspect of the recruitment industry: working with an international staffing agency.
Working with an international staffing agency
An international staffing agency offers many advantages for those looking to work abroad, from local labor market expertise to administrative assistance. Here’s how it can help:
- Understanding the local job market: The agency has in-depth knowledge of the job opportunities available and can direct jobseekers to offers that match their skills and career aspirations.
- Administrative assistance: Candidates receive support with the administrative procedures involved in working abroad, such as obtaining a visa or recognition of qualifications.
- Preparing for employment abroad: The agency helps you understand the cultural challenges, administrative procedures and professional qualifications needed to work abroad. It can also provide information on working conditions, cost of living and social benefits in the target country.
- Logistical support: Some agencies offer support to make settling in easier, especially when it comes to finding accommodation or registering with local organizations.
Consequently, working with an employment agency can greatly facilitate and optimize your job search abroad. If you’re thinking of broadening your horizons, take the time to read our dedicated article on the role of an agency in international placement!
Nevertheless, it’s important to keep abreast of trends and developments in the job market to better anticipate employment prospects abroad.
Examine future trends and developments
In order to examine future trends and developments in employment agencies, it is essential to analyze emerging trends in the field, as well as understanding the labor market. For more in-depth research, it is essential to consider the reports and resources provided by world-renowned organizations such as theInternational Labour Organization.
Professionals also need to anticipate the future challenges these agencies may face, in order to put in place appropriate strategies to ensure their continued success.
This analysis will enable companies to adapt quickly to changes in the labor market and remain competitive in a constantly evolving environment.
For a more in-depth analysis, please refer to our article on the influence of placement agencies on the job market.
emerging trends in the employment agency sector
By analyzing emerging trends in the employment agency sector, we can better understand the challenges and opportunities facing these companies, and anticipate future needs in terms of recruitment and talent management.
These trends include :
- Automated recruitment
- Growing use of chatbots to interact with candidates
- Use of an Application Tracking System (ATS) to manage the entire hiring and recruitment process.
- Use predictive analysis to identify profiles with the best potential
- Artificial intelligence (AI) in candidate pre-selection:
- Development of algorithms capable of assessing the match between a job and a profile
- Use data on skills, experience and personality to refine the selection process
- Automated evaluation processes based on machine learning
- Demographic changes and their implications for the job market
- Ageing populations in some countries, leading to a potential shortage of skilled workers
- Increase in the number of self-employed workers, requiring adaptation of traditional recruitment methods
- Growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion in hiring policies.
In light of these emerging trends, it is essential for employment agencies to adapt their strategies and prepare for future challenges, such as increased competition, changing customer and candidate expectations, and data protection regulations.
It is also necessary to have a good understanding of the job market, particularly the sectors in demand and the sought-after skills, as well as technologies driving the digitalization of recruitment, which are valuable information for both companies and candidates.
sectors in demand and skills sought
The job market is constantly evolving in response to economic, technological and societal changes. Staffing agencies have unique access to a multitude of sectors and can identify trends in terms of in-demand skills.
Sectors in demand
There are a multitude of sectors currently in high demand. This may vary by region, but here are some general examples:
- Information technology (IT): Software development, cybersecurity and data analysis are particularly in demand.
- Healthcare: With an aging population, healthcare positions such as nurses and home support workers are in high demand.
- Industry and construction: jobs for engineers, technicians and skilled workers remain in constant demand.
- Teaching: Demand for education professionals, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, is high.
- Finance and accounting: The roles of financial management, financial analysis and accounting are essential for all businesses.
The skills sought depend largely on the sector, but certain skills are universally appreciated:
- IT skills: Mastery of digital tools and specific software is increasingly important in most sectors.
- Communication skills: Being able to express your ideas clearly, both orally and in writing, is essential in all fields.
- Critical thinking: The ability to solve problems and make informed decisions is highly valued.
- Teamwork: The ability to collaborate effectively with people from different backgrounds is a key skill.
- Adaptability: In a fast-changing world, the ability to adapt to new situations and learn quickly is a highly sought-after skill.
In this ever-changing context, staffing agencies can help companies find the right talent to meet their specific needs, while helping candidates manage the constant transformations in the job market. There are, however, future challenges, which will be discussed below.
Anticipating future challenges facing employment agencies
Having studied the emerging trends in the employment agency sector, it’s crucial to anticipate the future challenges these companies may face.
One of the key challenges will be adapting to new technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation, which are rapidly transforming the job market and the way candidates are selected and recruited.
In addition, increased competition between employment agencies will require a more innovative and strategic approach to attracting and retaining customers and candidates.
Agencies will also need to keep abreast of ever-changing regulations, particularly in terms of data confidentiality, social protection and equal pay, to avoid any legal or financial risks.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges to date is the potential slowdown in economic growth. In fact, the Canadian Staffing Index reached 96 in March 2023, down 12.7% on March 2022, despite the same number of working days. This value suggests a slowdown from the positive growth rates observed in the second half of 2022. In other words, the volume of work supplied by temporary employment agencies in Canada has fallen, which could indicate a slowdown in economic growth, as demonstrated by data from a resource ofACSESS (the Association nationale des entreprises en recrutement et placement de personnel).
Anticipating these challenges will enable employment agencies to be better prepared to face an ever-changing professional environment.
If you are curious to learn more about the economic impact of placement agencies, please check out our article for an analysis of it!
In this guide, we’ve explored the different facets of working successfully with an employment agency. From examining the roles and responsibilities of such an agency, to complying with standards and regulations, to understanding the importance of confidentiality agreements, we covered a wide range of relevant topics.
We also highlighted the immense potential that a staffing agency can represent for employers and candidates, particularly in the context of international work. Whether you’re looking for opportunities that match your skills and career aspirations, or want to simplify the administrative procedures involved in working abroad, an employment agency can be a valuable ally.
Finally, we discussed the importance of staying up to date with labor market trends, both in terms of sectors in demand and skills in demand, so as to be able to anticipate and respond effectively to future challenges.
However, to really take advantage of these benefits, it’s essential to choose the right staffing agency, one that understands your needs and responds optimally.