Staffing vs Recruiting

I think it’s safe to say many people assume staffing and recruiting are the same thing. I mean, they’re both words which describe the action of hiring someone so they must be the same, right?

Not exactly.

While they both refer to filling a job vacancy, the two otherwise couldn’t be more different. Both in terms of who is doing the hiring, and the type of candidates being sought out.

Let’s take a deeper look at the difference between staffing and recruiting.


What is Staffing?


So, what is the difference between staffing and recruitment? Staffing refers to the process of hiring temporary workers to fill short term roles. This could be a large company needing wait staff for an outdoor barbecue, or a small office trying to cover a permanent employee’s maternity leave. 

Staffing is typically done using a staffing agency (surprise, surprise) and focuses on potential candidates who are actively looking for work. Staffing is best used for:

  • Filling short term, temporary jobs
  • Filling many temporary jobs with qualified candidates in a short amount of time
  • Filling roles which don’t require specific skills or extensive training

Staffing agencies often work within limited budgets, as they hire for a lot of lower level and unskilled labor roles that don’t have as high requirements.

A good agency will have a large selection of candidates to fill various types of jobs, who are ready and willing to work on short notice. This is a huge benefit for companies because it eliminates most of the time and guesswork associated with finding suitable workers.

A staffing agency can also help a company achieve cost savings. Temporary workers don’t always require things like health benefits or 401k plans, and the worker’s pay is almost always handled by the agency.

When it comes to staffing vs recruiting in the construction industry, staffing agencies are more prominent than recruitment firms since construction work is often contract or project-based. 

What is Recruiting?


Recruiting, sometimes known as headhunting, differs from staffing in that it usually takes a candidate-first approach. 

Instead of posting a job and having active job seekers apply, a recruiter will often listen to what a company needs and then reach out to a shortlist of qualified professionals. Many of whom are passive candidates, meaning candidates who are already employed or aren’t actively looking for work.



staffing vs recruiting

Due to the nature of recruiting, it’s useful for finding upper management and other high-level employees. Education and experience aside, candidates who are recruited are often brought in to improve a company’s culture and are given the power to do so. Their management style and vision are equally as important as their skills and training.

Recruitment is best used for:

  • Injecting unique talent into your team to help direct a new project 
  • Finding professionals to improve upper management
  • Garnering exceptional talent from your competitors or other industries
  • When you’re more focused on leadership and culture, rather than compensation and filling a gap

Recruiting can be done in-house, although it usually only happens in medium to large-sized organizations that have the resources to do so. Many companies prefer to outsource this to a dedicated recruiter agency, as it can be difficult and time-consuming trying to lure passive candidates.

As with staffing, agency recruiters usually have a large pool of talent to choose from. However, it’s a longer, more delicate hiring process than staffing as it requires feeling out potential candidates and ensuring a mutual fit.

Who Provides These Services?


Now that you understand the difference between recruitment and staffing, we’ll discuss some of the major players. Here are 3 of the largest firms:

  1. Randstad. Founded in the Netherlands in 1960, Randstad is a multinational human resources consulting firm. They specialize in services for temporary and permanent jobs, contract staffing, and senior manager searches. Randstad currently operates more than 4800 branches in 39 countries.
  2. Adecco. The Adecco group was founded in 1996 in Switzerland. Along with providing temporary and permanent placement, Adecco provides services for career transition, talent development, and business process consulting. They currently operate 5200 locations in over 60 countries.
  3. Robert Half. Robert Half International was founded in 1948 in New York City but is now headquartered in Menlo Park, California. They are the world’s first and largest accounting and finance staffing firm, operating 324 branches worldwide. They specialize in staffing admin, IT, marketing, and law workers.

Other than being known as the top firms in the world, these three share another common trait: none of them focus specifically on construction staffing


Why You Need an Industry-Specific Staffing Service


Now, you might be asking yourself: “Why does it matter if a staffing service is industry-specific?”

While this may not be as much of an issue if you’re looking for office workers or marketing specialists, construction is a whole different ball game. 

It’s critical that an agency understands your needs in order to avoid disastrous mistakes.

For example, commercial electricians typically follow a three-phase approach to wiring. Sending in a residential electrician, who is accustomed to using single-phase power supplies, could end up being costly for you -- in terms of time, money, and human safety.

Elite Force is hyper-focused on the construction industry and will ensure that you receive qualified talent for your projects, including electricians, mechanical conveyor installers, millwrights, welders, concrete workers, and more.


With Elite Force, you get:

  • Account managers who understand your industry, and are OSHA 30 certified
  • 50+ years of experience in construction staffing/recruiting
  • Two OSHA authorized construction trainers on staff, ensuring the safety of your workers on your job site
  • A large pool of qualified candidates

Your success is something we take seriously, and we’re focused on achieving excellence in every single placement.

Partnering quality companies with quality tradespeople is what we do.

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