Job hunting is exhausting. That’s true even in the best of times, when the economy is growing and positions are plentiful. When the economy is middling to poor, searching for a job is even more disheartening. It takes hours to put together or edit a resume, then write a cover letter for each posting, then fill out another series of forms online, many of which feel redundant. Then there’s the waiting and the interviews. A hiring manager can tell you that you’ll hear back in three days, but then never contact you again. You might thank you nailed an interview, only to be told that the company is having budget problems and has decided to institute a hiring freeze. It can seem like there are too many obstacles to surmount.

For people who are tired of all the uncertainty, signing up with a local staffing agency can improve both their outlook and their job prospects.

How It Works

First, you’ll be asked to fill out some forms. A few of those can be done online, but it’s likely a representative from the staffing agency will also ask you to come in and take some tests. The tests typically measure things like your typing speed or proficiency with Microsoft Office. They want to get a good idea of how well you can perform basic office tasks. You may also be required to submit to a drug test.

After you take some tests, you may meet privately with an employee of the staffing agency. It’s their job to talk to you about your strengths and weaknesses, as well as likes and dislikes. So if you can’t swim, they need to cross “lifeguarding” off the list of potential jobs. On the other hand, if you worked as a data entry specialist during college, they’ll make a note indicating you have experience in the field.

Job hunting can wear you down emotionally to the point where you think that you’re terrible at everything and don’t deserve to be a contributing member of society, but that’s just not true. Everyone can do something, and the job consultant is there to help you figure out what your “something” might look like.

Once your meeting with the consultant is over, it’s time to head home and rest up a bit, because things can start happening pretty quickly after that first visit.

When a potential job match opens up, you’ll get a phone call or email describing the position. It could be anything from clerical work at a car dealership to assembly line work at a factory. If you’re interested in the job, then a few things can happen. The company might want to bring you in right away to start working. This is more common if there’s an urgent need for staffing. In other cases, the staffing agency will forward your name and qualifications along to the company, and they’ll get in touch if they want you to come work for them. If you aren’t interested, you can decline the offer and wait for something more suitable to come along.

Once you start working, you may just be a temporary worker assigned to fill in for someone for a week or two. In other cases, you’ll be “temp-to-hire,” which means you’ll work for a few weeks while the company and the staffing agency decide if you should be hired on permanently. There are also companies who hire permanent employees directly from the staffing agency, although those situations are less common than the first two scenarios.

The staffing agency will probably take a percentage of your earnings for a set amount of time, but such deductions are worth it to people who are sick and tired of doing all the job-hunting on their own. At worst, you can use a staffing agency to find a temporary source of income. At best, you can find an entirely new career path.