Staffing and Human Resources

The staffing and personnel management industry locates temporary, contract, and permanent workers to meet the hiring needs of corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and other employers. These workers range from secretaries and office clerks; to doctors, engineers, and accountants; to CEOs, CFOs, and corporate board members.

The industry has three main sectors: staffing agencies; recruiting firms (which include general recruiting firms and executive recruiting firms); and personnel consulting companies.

The U.S. staffing industry generated approximately $110 billion in sales in 2013, according to the American Staffing Association (ASA)—$98.3 billion from temporary and contract staffing and $11.5 billion in search and permanent-placement services. Approximately three million temporary and contract workers are employed by staffing companies every business day.

In 2011, the 100 largest staffing firms generated $61.8 billion in U.S. staffing revenues and comprised 52.7 percent of the total U.S. market, according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a global adviser on temporary work. The global staffing market was worth an estimated $406 billion in 2011. More than 100 staffing companies had annual revenue that exceeded $300 million.

General recruiting firms, also known as contingency recruiters, often focus on providing workers in a particular industry such as technology or health care. They are paid by a company only if the candidate they recommend is hired. Contingency recruiters typically focus on recruiting entry-level to mid-level workers.

Executive recruiting firms (also known as headhunters, retained recruiters, and retained search firms) focus on recruiting for high-level positions such as CEOs. They are paid whether the candidate is hired or not. In 2011, revenue in the U.S. executive search and leadership industry was $9.74 billion, according to the Association of Executive Search Consultants. In 2012, the North American market generated approximately 45 percent of global executive search industry revenue.

Personnel consulting companies provide human resources solutions (consulting and management, wage and salary administration, employee benefits planning and administration, etc.) to companies. Professional employer organizations make up a large segment of this industry. According to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), a professional employer organization (PEO) relationship “involves a contractual allocation and sharing of employer responsibilities between the PEO and the client.” These firms typically provide services to small- and mid-sized businesses, although the number of large firms entering PEO relationships is growing. Gross revenue in the PEO industry was $92 billion in 2012, according to NAPEO.

A wide variety of permanent employees work in the staffing and personnel management industry, including recruitment, placement, and employment specialists and consultants; sales workers; job analysts, employer liaisons, and managers; and support staff such as secretaries, office clerks, researchers, Information Technology specialists, and accountants.

In 2012, there were more than 2.5 million contract and temporary workers in the United States. The staffing industry provides great opportunities for people who are seeking flexible work arrangements and schedules. It also provides them with the opportunity to “try out” various employers and get a “foot in the door” before eventually landing a full-time job. In fact, 77 percent of staffing employees surveyed by the ASA report that they decided to work for staffing firms in order to find permanent jobs.

The staffing and personnel management industry will continue to grow as demand for temporary and contract workers increases and more companies and other organizations utilize the services of recruiters to help them find the most qualified candidates.

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