Staffing Agencies and Third-Party Recruiters

Posted: October 2, 2018

Adapted from a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) resource titled “Student’s Guide to Working with Staffing Agencies and other Third-Party Recruiters.”

NACE defines third-party recruiters as “agencies, organizations, or individuals recruiting candidates for temporary, part-time, or full-time employment opportunities other than for their own needs.” There are several different categories of third-party recruiters, including employment/ staffing agencies, contract recruiters, and resume referral firms. Ohio State career services offices work with third-party recruiters but require that these firms adhere to our policies before posting positions.

Employment/Staffing Agencies

Employment agencies list positions for a number of organizations and receive payment from the hiring organization when a referred candidate is hired. They often do not have an exclusive contract to place an individual in a role with a client organization. Campus and online job boards may include job postings from employment agencies or staffing firms, along with postings directly from employers.

Contract Recruiters

Employers hire contract recruiters to represent them in the recruiting and hiring functions. An employer may hire a third-party organization to do on-campus recruiting, represent the organization at a job fair, screen job candidates who apply through an Internet website, or undertake any other aspect of the hiring process.

Resume Referral Firms

A resume referral firm collects information on job seekers—typically in the form of resumes or LinkedIn profiles—and forwards it to prospective employers. The employer, job seeker, or both may pay fees for this service.

In order for the firm to pass your resume on to employers, the firm must have your written permission to do so. If you wish to give permission, your permission should include a statement that expressly states to whom and for what purpose the resume referral firm can use the information.


A third-party recruiter may be helpful to you in your job search, but be a wise consumer. Read all materials carefully and ask questions—including those provided below.

1. How is this information being used?

A third-party recruiter is allowed legally to share your resume with the contract employer for positions that you are actually seeking. The recruiter must tell you, in clear terms, that your materials and information will not be shared outside the organization or used for any purpose other than with the company they represent at the time they interview you. The third-party recruiter cannot sell your information to anyone else unless authorized to do so by you pursuant to a written agreement.

2. Who pays the fee?

Be aware of how the third-party organization is being paid for its services and approach any situation where you are asked to pay a fee with caution. Before you accept a position or sign a contract, confirm how you will be paid (by the third party or by the employer) and be sure that the written offer/contract matches up with what you were told by the recruiter.

3. Are candidates treated equally and fairly?

If you are qualified for the job opportunity, the third-party recruiter must pass your information to employers without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local law. (Note: Your state’s laws may extend that protection to include other considerations.) 

Contact ECS if you have additional questions about working with third-party recruiters and staffing agencies.  

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