In the world of construction there are generally three levels of recruitment firms including labor, staffing and search. When it comes to investing and finding the best talent possible, not all of these options will produce the same results. Let’s look at the differences between these three types and what makes the most sense for your recruitment and search needs. 

Temporary or Labor Staffing.

In construction there are thousands of agencies out there that tout themselves as “staffing firms.” In reality – these temporary or labor agencies focus on staffing for day labor on the job site, providing a wide network and access to labor and skilled trade workers. Typically construction firms and projects will leverage this type of “staffing” when a project needs to scale up their labor force at any point during a project. These labor staffing agencies can be hit or miss when it comes to finding reliable labor or contractors and are relatively an inexpensive option for finding on-demand labor in a specific market or location. 

Staffing Agencies

Staffing agencies are a great option for finding reliable office / field talent for more permanent positions and roles. These staffing agencies often source talent for more junior level positions and roles where a candidate can learn the industry and easily grow and learn within the role. Typically staffing agencies specialize recruiting for entry level positions at a high volume, screening resumes quickly and passing candidates off to the hiring manager at the construction firm. They serve primarily as a receptacle to capture resumes and have little involvement with the recruitment process after they hand over a stack of resumes. Since their fee model is based strictly upon the successful hiring or placement of a candidate they refer, they primarily specialize and focus on producing a higher quantity rather than a higher quality of candidates.

Search Firms

Recruiting firms or Search firms are the seasoned experts and specialists in hiring. These search firms typically specialize in a niche industry or area and are the best option for finding highly qualified talent and candidates for hard to fill positions. These include Estimators, Project Managers, Superintendents all the way up to Vice President and senior level executives. These positions require a methodical approach to finding, engaging and interviewing the right kind of talent for these positions. Search firms, unlike staffing firms, will work closely and collaboratively with a hiring manager and a candidate to guide and manage the entire recruitment process from start to finish. 

Most search firms spend years building and nurturing authentic relationships with passive talent and candidates to build trust. Usually, a search firm will operate on a retainer basis since they essentially conduct all of the research, outreach, screening and facilitate the search process for a construction firm. Their fees may be a bit higher than the other options listed above but the premium is really attributed to the quality and level of talent they have access to and can deliver. 

The Difference Between Staffing and Search

As we mentioned above, staffing agencies are an effective option for hiring at volume or for entry level positions where skills and experience can be learned on the job and a mis-hire will have minimal impact across the organization. Search firms, on the other hand, specialize in finding and delivering highly qualified and skilled candidates that most construction firms or staffing agencies don’t have access to. At this level, a construction firm cannot afford to make a mis-hire and a search firm takes this responsibility very seriously. 

Search firms guide and manage the entire search process serving as an advisor to both client and candidates, while staffing agencies pass along pre-screened resumes. In some cases, a staffing agency will claim to also specialize in higher level and key placements like a search firm, but their practice is very similar to the way they approach their traditional staffing efforts, with a high volume of talent and offering little guidance. This approach creates a poor candidate experience, does not produce the right type of talent for a strategic hire and can have devastating effects across an organization if the wrong candidate is hired. 

To learn more about our search firm, get in touch with us

About The Author.

Jeff Raymond (, President and Founder of Raymond Search Group (, is an industry-leading recruiter specializing in Construction and Real Estate, Engineering, Architecture, HVACR/R, Building Automation Systems, MEPF, and Manufacturing. Jeff is known for delivering the top 5% of industry talent to his clients with unrivaled efficiency and network. Clients and candidates alike rely on Jeff as a trusted advisor through his recruiting expertise and industry insight.

Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Management, and Operations from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is experienced in the construction industry and is Procore certified in multiple areas. He is an active member of the Urban Land Institute, ASHRAE, the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR), and The OSHA Education Center Association.