Staffing agencies help businesses hire individuals ranging from temporary seasonal employees and skilled professionals to top executives. By drawing on a pool of skilled candidates in a variety of industries, agencies help employers find the right employees faster than any job board.
The best staffing firms partner closely with businesses to understand their hiring needs and offer custom searches, screenings, assessments, and hiring support. Some can also provide businesses with hiring trends to help them plan for the future and create strategies for retaining and attracting employees.
We reviewed over a dozen staffing agencies and chose the best based on reputation, industry expertise, candidate pool, additional staffing support, and more. Here are our top picks.
The 6 Best Staffing Agencies of 2021
Best Overall: Randstad
Randstad was founded in 1960 by Dutch economics students Frits Goldschmeding and Ger Daleboudt to provide temporary personnel for the insurance industry, banks, and health care. As the company grew, it acquired other staffing agencies and moved its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1993. We chose it as the best overall because of its massive global reach of more than 4,800 offices in 38 countries and the successful placement of 650,000 workers worldwide.
Randstad provides outsourcing, staffing, consulting, and HR workforce solutions for temporary and permanent jobs, including contract staffing of professionals and senior managers. It is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has a B- ranking with the organization due to its failure to respond to four complaints filed against it.
Randstad offers a data-driven approach to staffing, including monitoring metrics like the ratio of interviews to new hires and connecting clients to local recruiters. The company’s website walks businesses through its process of talent acquisition, staffing strategy, employee retention, and employee engagement. Clients also get access to an extensive learning library with salary and workplace trends and a salary calculator.
Randstad also offers a thorough screening and vetting process that can be tailored to the needs of each client. This can include performing background checks, validating credentials and certifications, checking references, testing candidates on specific skills, and/or conducting video interviews.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Robert and Maxine Half pioneered the idea of professional staffing services. Since then, the company has received numerous accolades and awards, including being No. 1 on Forbes’ annual ranking of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms. We chose it as our runner-up due to its extensive network of over 325 locations and its wide range of staffing services, which includes remote, flexible, and full-time placements.
Robert Half specializes in matching employers to skilled professionals in the accounting, finance, technology, creative, marketing, legal, and administrative fields. The company is not accredited with the BBB but does enjoy an A+ rating with the organization.
In addition to offering temp and temp-to-hire staffing solutions, Robert Half also makes it easy for businesses to access the company’s network of professional-level talent with Robert Half Direct. Employers just upload their job description and AI-based matching technology automatically pulls up a shortlist of candidates. Employers can use their own internal hiring process and only pay when they hire a candidate.
Robert Half is also at the forefront of remote hiring, offering a secure virtual workspace to get candidates up and running. The company can also provide remote workers with laptops and tablets backed by Robert Half’s security center, along with mobile hotspots and 4G data sticks to ensure they have reliable WiFi.
Best for Executive Hiring: Korn Ferry
Korn Ferry was founded in 1969 by entrepreneurs Lester Korn and Richard Ferry, and, by 1981, had become the largest executive search firm in the world. It currently operates in 104 offices in 52 countries and employs 8,678 people worldwide. We chose it as the best for executive hiring since it offers a range of executive search services including assessment, c-suite and board team coaching, succession planning, and more.
Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm specializing in executive search and leadership training. The company is not accredited with the BBB but enjoys an A+ rating from the organization.
Korn Ferry helps businesses find executives by drawing on a database of 7 million candidate profiles and 69 million assessment records spanning industry, job function, and organizational level. The company also employs an executive assessment method that takes into account a candidate’s competencies, traits, motivators, and experiences that align with the role.
Korn Ferry also provides a full range of services to help companies create an effective board of directors. The company works closely with boards to understand strategy, culture, and composition, and partners with colleagues with deep industry expertise to find the ideal candidates.
Best for Temp or Hourly Workers: Adecco
Adecco was formed in 1996 as a result of the merger of two European personnel firms, Ecco and Adia Interim. In 2000, the company acquired Olsten Staffing to become the No. 1 staffing agency in the United States. We chose it as the best for temp or hourly workers because it has the largest network of pre-screened candidates and offers affordable benefits and free training before and during assignments.
As a Fortune Global 500 company, Adecco has offices in over 450 locations in 60 countries and connects an average of 70,000 workers to job opportunities daily. The company is not accredited with the BBB but enjoys high ratings with the organization that vary depending on location.
Adecco specializes in creating custom staffing plans for its clients, whether they’re looking to hire five employees or 5,000. Every candidate in Adecco’s talent pool is pre-screened and can also be run through background and skills checks as requested. All Adecco temporary associates are eligible for a group benefits plan, which includes preventative medical coverage, dental insurance, and a 401(k) program.
Best for IT & Tech: TEKsystems
Founded in 1983, TEKsystems is a leading government, health care, communications, and government staffing provider with over 100 locations and seven solution centers worldwide. We chose it as the best for IT and tech because its network covers 81% of the domestic IT workforce and provides 80,000 IT professionals to more than 6,000 clients, including 80% of the Fortune 500.
TEKsystems’ deep knowledge of over 400 metropolitan markets and proprietary market trend research to help businesses determine what talent they need. The company offers full placement support from start to finish and boasts over 3,500 direct placements with small- to medium-sized clients. Finally, TEKsystems helps with talent retention by providing over 100,000 check-ins with IT professionals every week.
As a tech specialist, in addition to IT talent placement, TEKsystems also helps businesses with digital transformation, including risk and security, enterprise integrations, data analytics and insights, and more.
Best for Health Care: FlexCare Medical Staffing
FlexCare Medical Staffing was founded in 2006 with the idea of giving travel nurses a better and more transparent experience. Since then it has grown to become a leader in travel nursing, therapy, and allied staffing services for health care providers throughout the U.S. We chose it as the best for health care because the company provides transparent salary offers a designated point of contact, and the ability to place health care professionals at facilities within 72 hours.
FlexCare has contracts with most U.S. hospitals and other health care facilities and offers a way for nurses, therapists, and clinicians to find short-term assignments. Ninety-four percent of FlexCare’s clinicians stay with the company for each new travel assignment they work at.
All FlexCare clients get a single point of contact to help guide them through the job search process, help them create a profile, and offer career coaching as needed. The company also works to get maximum compensation at competitive rates, so its clients get the best pay right from the start. Finally, FlexCare’s Premier Traveler Access lets clients search for jobs, save locations, unlock pay ranges, and sign up for job alerts right from their phones.
What Are Staffing Agencies?
Staffing agencies help businesses hire anyone from quick, short-term hires to highly skilled career professionals and executives. Instead of posting a position on a job board and hoping for the best, employers who use agencies can draw from a pool of qualified candidates. This not only helps them find the right employees, but also increases the chance of those employees sticking around and contributing to the business.
Employees who use staffing agencies can better align their skills and goals with the business who want to hire them. Because staffing agencies stake their reputation on finding the best hires for their clients, employees who use them can often find the positions they want faster.
What Does a Staffing Agency Do?
First and foremost, staffing agencies offer a database of carefully assessed candidates that employees can choose from. By partnering with their clients, agencies can better align a business’ needs with the skills of a candidate and fill their positions faster.
Staffing agencies can also fill gaps in the hiring process by providing background screenings, skills assessments, validating credentials and certifications, conducting video interviews, and more. Some even offer employee training, benefits for temp workers, and market trend analysis to help businesses create effective and cost-efficient hiring programs.
What Is the Cost of Using a Staffing Agency?
Pricing among staffing agencies is highly individualized. Very little pricing information is publicly available. Instead, agencies create custom solutions based on the needs of specific clients.
Generally speaking, however, staffing agencies don’t charge an ongoing fee for their services. Instead, they typically charge anywhere from 15% to 20% of a permanent hire’s first-year salary. Agencies who place temporary employees charge a markup of 20% on the employee’s hourly wage to cover direct expenses, like taxes and workman’s comp.
Agencies also typically charge fees to run background checks, validate credentials, test candidates, and conduct video interviews. Since staffing agencies make money by successfully placing candidates, it can be worth paying their fees in order to get employees who can quickly satisfy either the long- or short-terms needs of a business.
What Kinds of Jobs Do Staffing Agencies Offer?
Staffing agencies cover just about any type of hiring situation in every industry imaginable. Most focus on placing temp or temp-to-hire staff in big industries like finance, marketing, creative, technology, and administration. These agencies often offer perks and benefits to attract qualified candidates who are serious about building their careers to help businesses with employee retention.
Other staffing agencies focus more narrowly on certain industries, with technology and medical being the most popular. Because there tends to be more credentials needed for those positions, these agencies focus on building expertise in their fields and following market trends to build a strong pool of skilled candidates for permanent, professional-level positions.
How We Chose the Best Staffing Agencies
To find the best staffing agencies, we looked at over a dozen available providers. We searched for established agencies with good reputations and solid track records of success. Firms with global reach were important too, since they could fulfill needs for businesses in just about any location.
We also focused on agencies that served specific types of employees—temp and hourly workers vs. executives, for example. While many agencies try to cover a wide range of employment types, we found that those that specialized typically offer better short- and long-term support and expertise.
Finally, we made sure to cover agencies that specialized in two large industries with specific hiring requirements, IT and medical. The agencies we reviewed had each accumulated decades of expertise in their field ensuring that they could find the best candidates for their clients’ short- and long-term needs.
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Better Business Bureau. "Adecco Group." Accessed Decenber 3, 2020.
Agency Central. "How do Recruitment Agencies Get Paid (and How Much)?" Accessed June 12, 2020.
PACE Staffing Network. "Understanding Your Temporary Staffing Agency Bill Rate!" Accessed June 12, 2020.