Staffing and Human Resources Consulting

Staffing and Human Resources Consulting


There are about 20,000 staffing and recruitment companies in the United States, operating approximately 39,000 offices, according to the American Staffing Association. These range from solo practitioners to multinational corporations. Opportunities are available throughout the United States and abroad.

Staffing and recruiting agencies provide temporary, contract, and permanent workers to companies, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations. They offer a wide array of employment services, including contract and temporary staffing, outsourcing and outplacement, recruiting and permanent placement, training, and human resources consulting.

There are several types of staffing and personnel management firms. Temporary staffing agencies, also known as temporary help services, comprise more than half of the staffing agencies in the United States, and these firms employ a large percentage of industry workers. These agencies hire employees and assign them to a client’s workforce to address situations such as temporary skill shortages, special projects, or employee absences.

Employment placement agencies list employer vacancies and place permanent employees with companies. These firms typically have small permanent staffs (usually 10 or fewer workers).

Niche recruiting agencies focus on finding skilled candidates in one or a few industries, such as health care or law, or they may specialize in providing recruiting services in a specific geographic area. Niche recruiting agencies are often members of professional associations such as the National Association for Healthcare Recruitment, National Association of Legal Search Consultants, National Insurance Recruiters Association, and the Georgia Association of Personnel Services.

Allegis Group is the largest staffing firm in the United States in terms of revenue, earning  more than $10.2 billion in 2018. Randstad Holding ranked second for U.S. staffing revenue (nearly $4.8 billion), followed by Adecco (nearly $4.6 billion), Robert Half International (nearly $3.7 billion), and Kelly Services (more than $3.5 billion). Other noteworthy firms include 22nd Century Technologies, CareerStaff Unlimited (Genesis HealthCare), CoreMedical Group, CSI (Consulting Solutions International), Full Steam Staffing, Green Key Resources, Tradesmen International, and Vdart, to name just a few.

The number of online staffing/recruiting agencies and employment Web sites and social media sites (such as LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and Simply Hired) has grown rapidly in the last decade. These firms often operate without employment counselors and have fewer administrative workers than traditional staffing/recruiting firms. Companies are finding that by using LinkedIn for recruitment, they can bypass recruiting agencies completely or at least to some extent—which allows them to significantly reduce recruiting costs.

Executive recruiting firms, which are also known as headhunters and retained search firms, are hired by businesses and other organizations to locate, research, and interview candidates for hard-to-fill employment positions, mainly at the junior and senior management levels. Executive recruiters at these firms are paid by clients on a commission or flat-fee basis. The executive recruiting industry is not known for employing a large number of workers. Industry leader Korn Ferry, for example, has more than 100 offices worldwide, but only 7,500 workers.

The market research group Statista reported that in 2019, the top five executive search firms in North America in terms of revenue were Korn Ferry ($1.9 billion), Spencer Stuart ($875 million), Egon Zehnder ($751 million), Russell Reynolds Associates ($718 million), and Heidrick & Struggles ($716 million). Other top firms include Diversified Search, Lucas Group, Boyden, N2GROWTH, and DHR International.

Personnel consulting firms provide advice and management to companies and other organizations regarding staffing needs; human resources and personnel policies, procedures, and practices; wage and salary administration; employee benefits planning and administration; and compensation systems planning. The professional employer organization (PEO) area of this industry is growing rapidly. The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations estimates that there more than 900 PEOs operating in the United States. About 175,000 small- and mid-sized businesses and approximately 3.7 million people are part of PEO arrangements.

Popular permanent staff positions in the staffing and personnel management industry include employment, recruitment, and placement specialists and consultants; sales workers; job analysts; employer liaisons; and managers. There were nearly 625,700 human resources specialists (categorized as those who screen, recruit, interview, and place employees) working in the employment services industry in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The number of human resources specialists is probably much higher because the DOL does not include the owners of small staffing and recruiting agencies when compiling these statistics.

The DOL reports that approximately 16 percent of human resources specialists work for employment services, 13 percent work for professional, scientific, and technical services, 12 percent work for government agencies, 10 percent work for health care and social assistance organizations, and 8 percent work for manufacturing companies.