How Do Staffing Agencies Make Money?

Updated October 5, 2023
11 min read
How Do Staffing Agencies Make Money?


Are you curious about how do staffing companies make money? Maybe you're an aspiring entrepreneur thinking about establishing your own staffing business, or perhaps you're a business owner pondering on the value proposition of staffing companies. Whatever your circumstances may be, understanding the business model of these firms can be enlightening. So, let's dive into the intricacies of this question.

What Is a Staffing Agency?

A staffing agency, as the name implies, is a firm whose core operation is centered around filling vacant roles for businesses and finding suitable positions for job seekers. Looking specifically at how do staffing companies make money, they offer a variety of recruitment services, each with its unique pricing model. As such, the revenue of staffing companies comes from the sum of these individual income streams.

Role of a Staffing Agency in the Labor Market

Staffing agencies fill a critical gap in the labor market. They connect job seekers with companies looking to hire. At the same time, you might wonder, how do staffing companies make money doing this? Well, it’s all about finding the right person for the right job. They have a large pool of candidates to choose from and charge companies a fee based on the employee's annual salary. It’s their vast reach and ability to quickly match job seekers with companies that make them a valuable part of the labor market.

How Do Staffing Agencies Make Money?

Looking at the mechanics of the question, "How do recruitment agencies make money?" it can be broken down into various segments based on the types of employees offered for hire and the specific staffing models adopted. Let's delve further into the details of this issue.

Types of employees they hire

Staffing agencies deal with a variety of job sectors and categories when it comes to recruitment. It's their expertise in these various sectors that forms the backbone of how do staffing companies make money. Let's look at the types of employees they typically hire.

  1. Permanent employees: These are full-time employees who are hired directly by the company. When a staffing agency assists in the placement of a permanent employee, they usually get paid a percentage of the candidate's first-year salary. It forms a significant chunk of how staffing companies make money.

  2. Temporary employees: Temp employees are hired for short-term contracts. Staffing agencies often mark up the hourly wage paid by the company to the temp worker, contributing to their revenue flow. Consequently, temporary placements form a consistent and integral part of how staffing companies make money.

  3. Contract-to-hire employees: These are candidates who start as temporary employees but have the potential to become permanent if they meet certain criteria. Staffing agencies might receive a commission if the temporary position transitions into a permanent one, adding another dimension to how staffing companies make money.

  4. Specialized staff: Staffing agencies also fill positions requiring specialized skills or experience. Businesses typically pay a premium for these services, fueling the agency's income. This approach to niche roles is yet another component of how staffing companies make money.

When it comes to understanding how do staffing companies make money, it's essential to recognize that the hiring model adopted relies heavily on the type of employee being sourced. For in-depth information or legal help regarding staffing agencies’ methods of operation, feel free to explore Lawrina.

Flat fee staffing

A rather simple solution to the question of how do staffing companies make money is provided by flat fee staffing. Unlike percentage-based models that hinge on the hired candidate's salary, this strategy takes a simpler route. Here, the staffing agency and the client company agree on a predetermined flat fee for each placement. Independent of the candidate's salary, this fee is paid to the agency when a successful hire is made.

Engaging in a flat fee arrangement often warrants a staffing agency contract. These legal agreements provide clarity and assurance, detailing terms such as the agreed flat fee and obligations of each party, ensuring a smooth collaboration between the agency and the client company. In essence, the flat fee model adds a layer of certainty and simplicity to the process, contributing significantly to how do staffing companies make money.

Actual updates
2 pages
26.4K created templates

Create a staffing agency contract in a few clicks

Create & Download

Retainer model

In the retainer model, the client company pays an upfront fee to the staffing agency to conduct a thorough search for candidates. This initial payment acts as a 'retainer,' securing the services of the agency. We often see this method in operation when companies are searching for high-profile positions. Indeed, in such scenarios, this model might form the core answer to how do recruitment agencies make money.

Charging for recruitment services

Lastly, staffing agencies generate income by offering additional recruitment services. These could be in the form of background checks, candidate assessments, training, or even HR consultancy services. How do staffing agencies make money here? Simply by charging a fee for these value-added services.

How To Choose the Right Staffing Agency?

Understanding how do staffing companies make money can inform you about the value they bring to your business. But it's equally important to choose the right staffing agency for your unique needs. So, how can you make an informed decision?

  • Transparency: Companies should ensure that the staffing agency is completely transparent about their pricing model. An understanding of how staffing companies make money through their fee structure can help you evaluate whether their service would provide good value for your business.

  • Expertise: Choose a staffing company that specializes in your industry. For example, if you're in the U.S. law sector, you would benefit greatly from an agency that has a vast network and understanding of legal staffing.

  • Reputation: Review the agency’s history of placements, particularly within your industry, as this can give you an insight into how effectively the staffing agency meets clients' needs and, thus, how staffing companies make money by providing quality service.

  • Customized services: Some staffing agencies offer additional services like training or background checks that can add value to their placement. Understanding such services can help you appreciate how staffing companies make money by offering end-to-end recruitment solutions.

For instance, in the U.S. law industry, some agencies specialize in finding accounting professionals for law firms. While considering such specialized agencies, understanding how do staffing companies make money would help determine the quality and extent of their services.

Moreover, expert assistance from professionals like business lawyers can provide you with invaluable insights and help mitigate potential legal challenges. 


In summary, we've seen how staffing companies make money while offering an essential service to the labor market. They profit from a range of income sources, primarily connected to the type of employment they provide and the particular recruitment model they implement. Whether it's through the placement of permanent, temporary, or contract-to-hire employees or by utilizing pricing models such as a flat fee or a retainer, the question of "how do staffing companies make money" is answered by their diverse income generation strategies.

Crucial to understanding how do staffing companies make money is being aware of the nature of agreements they enter with client companies. Whether you're a business owner considering partnering with such an agency or an aspiring staffing agency entrepreneur yourself, comprehending the fine print of these contracts is fundamental. Lawrina offers business contract templates, which can be an excellent resource to aid your understanding of standard contract formats and clauses within this industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do staffing companies make their profit from temporary employees?

Temporary employees are an integral part of how do staffing companies make money. When a company needs to fill in a position for a short term or on a project basis, they often turn to staffing agencies specializing in temporary placements.


But how do staffing companies make money from this? Staffing agencies, in such cases, usually mark up the hourly wage of these employees. For example, a staffing agency may pay a temporary worker $15 per hour while they charge the client company $25 per hour for the worker's services. The difference is the agency's fee for providing the temporary employee and managing all HR-related tasks for them. 


What percentage do staffing agencies take for a permanent placement?

For permanent positions, answering the question of how do staffing companies make money typically involves a percentage of the placed candidate's first-year salary. This percentage can vary depending on factors such as the industry, the role’s seniority, and the agency's policy.


On average, staffing agencies may charge anywhere from 15% to 25% of the annual salary for most roles. This percentage could rise for high-level or hard-to-fill positions, again contributing to how do staffing companies make money. It's essential to remember that this is a one-time fee paid by the hiring company, not the candidate, and it includes the strategic, time-consuming process of pinpointing the right person for the job.


Can a staffing agency charge a candidate?

In the standard business model of how do staffing companies make money, it's unheard of for reputable staffing agencies to charge candidates for the service of finding them jobs. The fees for a staffing agency's services are almost always paid by the client companies seeking the talent.


This is because staffing agencies make money by offering valuable services to companies, helping them save significant time and resources in the recruitment process, not from the candidates. It's this client-centric focus that truly underscores how do staffing companies make money while remaining committed to connecting job seekers with suitable employment opportunities.