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Staffing Services Defined

There are a number of distinctions in types of staffing industry services and how they are supplied. This list of definitions covers the major terms used to describe them.


  • A staffing firm advises clients on a broad range of workforce solutions, including strategies and services for optimizing staff and skill levels, employee productivity, training, and recruitment and retention.

  • A staffing firm hires its own employees and assigns them to support or supplement a client’s workforce on longer-term assignments. Employees are recruited, screened, and assigned by the staffing firm.

  • A staffing firm assumes full responsibility for operating a specific client function (e.g., call center) on a continuing basis.

  • A staffing firm provides career transition services, including career counseling, testing, training, interview coaching, and referrals, to assist a client’s separating employees.

  • A staffing firm places on its payroll employees recruited or hired by the client. Payrolling is distinguished from professional employer organization (PEO) arrangements in that the employees generally are on temporary assignments and make up a small proportion of the client's work force.

  • A business places all or most of its workforce on the payroll of a staffing firm, and the staffing firm assumes responsibility for payroll, benefits, and other human resource functions.

  • A staffing firm finds qualified job candidates and connects them with potential employers for the purpose of establishing a permanent employment relationship.

  • A staffing firm hires its own employees and assigns them to support or supplement a client’s workforce to keep fully staffed during busy times, gain special expertise or staff special projects, or fill temporary vacancies. Employees are recruited, screened, and assigned by the staffing firm.

  • A staffing firm employee works for a client for a trial period during which both the employee and the client consider establishing a permanent employment relationship.

Occupational Categories

  • Physicians, dentists, nurses, hygienists, medical technicians, therapists, home health aides, custodial care workers, etc.

  • Manual laborers, food handlers, cleaners, assemblers, drivers, tradesmen, machine operators, maintenance workers, etc.

  • Consultants, analysts, programmers, designers, installers, and other occupations involving computer sciences or communications technology.

  • Secretaries, general office clerks, receptionists, administrative assistants, word-processing and data entry operators, cashiers, etc.

  • Accountants, bookkeepers, attorneys, paralegals, middle and senior managers, advertising and marketing executives, and other nontechnical occupations that require higher skill or education levels.

  • Engineers, scientists, laboratory technicians, architects, draftsmen, technical writers and illustrators, and other individuals with special skills or training in technical fields involving math or science (not including information technology).

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