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Job Search 101, Part 2

by Bill Sherman


Job Search 101 is a two-part series by Director of Career and Advising Services Bill Sherman. The series touches on the advice and information Bill frequently shares with Econ majors as they begin their job searches. 
In Part 1,  Bill discussed how to begin your job search, and both the reactive and proactive approach to finding your first job out of college. In Part 2, he describes other resources, such as employment agencies, and the best way to use them as part of a successful job search.

Part 2: Other Job Search Tools

I shared the two-fold strategy that has been proven the best way to methodically approach the job search with the greatest return on time invested in the process.  If you’ve not read that message, pause briefly and give it a good going over, as it is foundational to your job search success.  Now, let’s talk about employment agencies.

Q. Employment agencies….don’t you mean temp agencies?

Staffing firms are sometimes pejoratively referred to as “temp agencies” because historically they have been used to source hires for short-term jobs, such as entry-level clerical or construction work. However, the staffing industry has evolved quite a bit since the dot-com era at the turn of the millennium. There are agencies that are now tailored exclusively towards white collar (professional) clientele that are seeking employees with very specialized skills.

Q. What do these firms do?

In short, their job is to help you find a job by matching your skills, knowledge, and experience with appropriate opportunities that their corporate, government, and non-profit clients contract with them to hire for.  By the way, most of the jobs you’ll discover with employment agencies are not available to the general public, or if they are the company and contact information is left out until one registers with that particular agency.

Q.  How much does it cost to procure the services of an employment agency?

Normally, these employment agencies will not charge you for their services, unless they offer you something above-and-beyond basic job matching (e.g. resume development, software training, etc.).  Their business model involved receiving a fee from the employer for each successful placement they make. Public agencies, like the Oregon Employment Department, Washington Employment Security, etc. do not charge job seekers OR employers, since they are receiving state and federal funds to do the work as a public service. My first professional job was as a Business & Employment Specialist with the Oregon Employment Department and I helped everyone from teenagers looking for summer jobs, to laid-off loggers needing retraining, to corporate executives looking to find a comparable professional role.

Q. What makes Employment Agencies so special?

Normally, staffing services like Aerotek, Ajilon, Kelly Services, and Accountemps have exclusive relationships with companies for individual recruiting projects.  It doesn’t mean that one employment agency or another is the only door into that company, but it usually means that they are the only means of getting a specific position with that company.

Q.  Is it better to apply for jobs posted on a company website or to work solely through employment agencies?

It’s not an “either/or” situation—it’s a “both/and.”  In other words, you should be applying in a timely manner for recently posted jobs on company websites, public forums, and UO Student Connect (aka UO JobLink), yet you should also be working through employment agencies to apply for positions they may have the edge in staffing.

Nike, for example, has utilized the services of Adecco in Portland (almost exclusively) for years to hire for hundreds  of entry-level corporate jobs of various kinds.  Usually these are temporary, one-year contracts, BUT they’re used to “try out” candidates for potential long-term, full-time jobs within the organization.  These temporary employees also get to apply for internal job postings before they are made available to the general job-seeking public.

Q.  Ok, I’m interested.  So who do you recommend I work with?

One employment agency that I’ve worked with quite a bit over my 10 years at the University of Oregon is CAMPUS POINT, based in Seattle & Portland.  Other agencies that have recruited UO students/graduates before include Boly/Welch and Ajilon.   I’m including the links to these and other  employment agencies (including state/county gov’t agencies that help the unemployed with a wide-variety of services) below for different labor markets.

*Please note that I have not had personal experience with all of these agencies (esp. outside of the Oregon), but from the feedback I’ve received and read, they have mainly good reviews.   Also, this is not an exhaustive list, but nonetheless you should find it a helpful one.



San Francisco

San Diego

Los Angeles

Q. How can I make the most out of my relationship with an employment agency?

Finally, a caveat: while services like Campus Point can bring new job leads to your attention, you will still need to compete at your best.  This means, prompt action on your part when new leads come your way, stellar application materials, and superior interviewing skills.