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Definitions of Staffing Services



Direct Placement Services

A staffing firm finds qualified job candidates and brings them together with potential employers for the purpose of establishing a “direct hire” or “permanent” employment relationship. “Contingency” fees are paid by the client when the employee is hired.

Human Resource Consulting

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

Long-Term and Contract Help

A staffing firm recruits workers and assigns them to support or supplement a client’s work force on longer-term assignments. Workers may be employed by the staffing firm or assigned as independent contractors.

Managed Service Provider

An MSP is an on-site supplier engaged to manage all aspects of a client’s temporary and contract staffing services, including recommending or selecting staffing firms and vendor management systems. An MSP may or may not provide its own staffing services, and may use one or more or no VMS providers.

Managed Services

A staffing firm assumes full responsibility for operating a specific client function for which the staffing firm has operational expertise (e.g., call center, mailroom, data processing center, cafeteria, landscaping, guards, maintenance, janitorial services) on a continuing basis. This is often performed under a “statement of work” arrangement rather than in terms of hourly labor.


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 PEO arrangements in that the employees generally are on temporary assignments and make up a small proportion of the client’s work force.

Professional Employer Organization (PEO or Employee Leasing)

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

Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Recruitment process outsourcing is a form of business process outsourcing where a client transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider, such as a staffing firm. An RPO firm may supply its own or assume the client’s staff, technology, methodologies, and reporting. RPO providers manage the entire recruitment process, from design through results.

Retained Search Services

Retained search services are typically for management or executive positions in which the staffing firm charges a retainer (upfront fee) to perform the search for a client. Because a retained search is done on a contract basis, the client pays the fees for the search services regardless of whether a hire results.

Temporary Help

A staffing firm recruits and screens workers and assigns them to support or supplement a client’s work force to keep fully staffed during busy times, gain special expertise or staff special projects, or fill temporary vacancies. Workers may be employed by the staffing firm or assigned as independent contractors.

Temporary to Hire

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.

Vendor Management Systems

A VMS is a Web-based software tool that clients use to purchase and manage goods and services, including temporary and contract staff. These tools are provided by third-party VMS providers as well as staffing firms that have their own technology platform.

Occupational Categories

Finance and Accounting

Accountants, bookkeepers, controllers, credit managers, credit analysts, auditors, financial analysts, purchasing agents, etc.

Health Care

Physicians, dentists, nurses, hygienists, medical technicians, therapists, nursing aides, etc.


Guards, assemblers, laborers, cleaners, packers, food handlers, drivers, machine operators, skilled tradesmen, maintenance workers, mechanics, etc.

Information Technology

Analysts, programmers, designers, operators, installers, and other occupations involving computer sciences (hardware or software) or communications technology (Internet, telephony, etc.).


Attorneys, paralegals, contract administrators, document review specialists, legal support, etc.


Managers, executives, officers, administrators, management analysts, etc.


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

Sales and Marketing

Sales (retail, inside, outside), marketing, advertising, promotion, public relations, and sales occupations, including market research, strategy, design, copywriting, product development, and demonstrations, at all levels, including assistants, representatives, managers, directors, etc.


Chemists, biological and life scientists, pharmaceutical researchers, medical scientists, environmental scientists, science technicians, and other occupations engaged in developing or applying systemized knowledge


Engineers, architects, draftsmen, technical writers and illustrators, and other individuals educated in math or science as applied to engineering or technical fields (except information technology).

Other Professions

Human resource professionals, teachers, social workers, and other occupations (not otherwise classified herein) that require higher skill or education levels.

ASA Workforce MonitorNearly half of employed U.S. job seekers (49%) believe AI tools used in job recruiting are more biased than their human counterparts. View the results & download the infographics »
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