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Why a Staffing Agency Is Better Than the Gig Economy for Finding Work

gig economy

Most people value independence and flexibility in the workplace. That’s especially true of workers in today’s “gig economy.”

Who are gig workers? Anyone who works outside the traditional employer-employee relationship, often connecting to their clients and customers through an online platform. This includes a range of work, from rideshares to freelance graphic design. Most gig workers are looking to supplement their income. But what about those who want variety and flexibility <— but don't want to sacrifice traditional employee benefits?

With digital platforms like Upwork and services like Uber connecting more independent workers directly to jobs, a 2018 Gallup study estimates that 36% of the American workforce — that’s 57 million people — are gig workers. While gig work has grown significantly in popularity, so have the challenges and uncertainty for those who depend on it. According to the Federal Reserve, nearly three in five full-time gig workers said they’d have a hard time covering an emergency expense. In contrast, only two in five non-gig workers would say the same.

Low and inconsistent wages, few if any benefits and a lack of employee protections have left many workers struggling.

Given this fast-evolving — and even chaotic — landscape, working with a staffing agency can be an appealing option for many workers.

Here are six reasons why.

1. You work with a person, not an app

Sure, apps are cool and convenient, and you don’t have to talk to them (unless you want to). But sometimes your situation is more complex, requiring more insight than an algorithm can offer.


You'll build a relationship with a good recruiter; you’ll share your goals with a professional who can identify opportunities that fits your skills, experience and temperament. You’ll also have a supportive partner who can coach you through the hiring process, from initial screening to interview prep and job placement.

2. Recruiters can help you avoid the downsides of the gig economy

Sure, we all want flexibility and independence. It’s great to be your own boss ... until it isn’t.

Research reveals major challenges for gig workers:

  • A sense of isolation — you miss the feedback and connection of a “regular” work environment
  • The hassle of being your own accountant, especially with taxes
  • The ongoing stress of finding your next gig

Connecting with a professional recruiter can help you address these concerns. Isolation? Not with support from application to placement to completion. Taxes? Get paid with a W-2 (meaning your employer sends your payroll taxes to state and local governments). The stress of wondering what’s next? Collaborate with your recruiting partner.

3. Staffing agencies understand the marketplace

It’s a recruiter’s job to know trends in the marketplace and to share them with you. Many national staffing agencies have broad geographic coverage, and Aerotek takes it one step further, aligning recruiters to skill sets within a specific location. It means you can tap into the expertise of someone who has the inside scoop on the exact types of jobs you’re interested in locally.

Your recruiter can also help you understand the going rate for candidates with your experience and skill set, so you won’t be left wondering if you’ve sold yourself short.

4. You’ll know what you’re getting into

Because recruiters work with applicants and employers, they're familiar with the work environment that comes with a potential opportunity. Factors like workplace culture, the physical workspace and the type of work — collaborative or solo, self-starting or step-by-step direction — can make or break a successful assignment.

Your recruiter will know those variables upfront, so you can decide whether to take a new position with the best information possible.

5. You’ll have dedicated human support

With the better recruiting agencies, your partnership with your recruiter doesn't end when you land a placement. A good recruiter will stay in touch, so you have a point of contact for resolving any issues that arise, whether it's a mistake in your paycheck or a misunderstanding with your boss.

Moreover, a great recruiter will solicit performance feedback from your supervisor, helping you develop in your career.

Reputable staffing firms offer other forms of support as well, including contributory medical, dental and vision insurance.

A major advantage of working with a staffing agency like Aerotek: You’re paid with W2s, which means the staffing agency who employs you withholds taxes automatically, sending and reporting them to the government. They also pay half your social security and FICA taxes. In comparison, freelancers have to pay lump sums to the government and pay their full social security and FICA taxes. It's a lot more work to track, and for many, it can mean unexpectedly large payouts instead of steady withholdings.

6. You’ll have continuity

Once you’ve connected with a great recruiter, landed your first job and are crushing the assignment, at some point you’ll start to wonder: What’s next?

Well, you’re not alone. A great recruiter will already be scanning the horizon for opportunities, and because you’ve proven yourself, you’ll be a go-to person when the next, great-fit opportunity comes along.

Beyond just the next job, you can also develop a career strategy in collaboration with your recruiter. They can help you understand how to build a portfolio of work, which certifications employers like to see and how an assignment will impact your career. That’s a huge help as you build your resume and land more challenging, rewarding and higher-level placements.

The buzz around the gig economy is loud — and it’s only getting louder. It's waking people up the possibilities of taking control of their own careers — and that's a good thing. But many workers are finding that contract work can offer similar variety, flexibility and ownership — while retaining the benefits of being an employee.