staffing

Time Hop: The Evolution of the Staffing Industry

By Kristen Harris

A relatively new industry, the current concept of “staffing” has only been around for several decades. Even so, it’s evolved over that time.

Let’s jump in the way back machine…

The first temporary staffing firms started just after World War II, tapping into a growing market for part-time help. These early firms mostly focused on filling part-time or intermittent needs, especially in offices and secretarial pools. A combination of a few national firms and lots of local firms providing these services continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 60s. This type of work was especially appealing to women, allowing them to work outside of the home on their terms. In 1959, of the 150,000 people per year who found work through the top five firms, 85% were women

By the late 1960s and into the 70s “temporary help firms” were placing people with a broader range of talents and skills beyond the traditional office or clerical roles. Engineers, executives, financial controllers, and other professionals liked having more control over their work opportunities and schedule. This became especially attractive to people who were retiring but wanted to continue to work in some capacity.

In response to attempts at regulation of this new and growing industry, The Institute of Temporary Services was formed in 1966 to defend and advance the interests of their members. Now called The American Staffing Association, this industry organization continues to be the leader in support and advocacy for the staffing and recruiting industry.

Today American staffing companies employ more than three million people in an average week, adding up to nearly 17 million people per year. No longer just focused on office or clerical roles, there are staffing and recruiting firms to serve virtually any occupation and fill roles at any level. While there are plenty of firms that accept requests for any type of role, there are many firms (like ours) that have expertise in a niche. Instead of all jobs for all people, niche firms focus on specific jobs for specialized people.

Candidates who work with a staffing or recruiting firm gain access to more short-term, long-term, or full-time opportunities, based on their career interests and personal needs. Schedule flexibility is still a top reason people choose to work with staffing firms. However, half of the staffing employees see it as a route to a permanent position, with 9 out of 10 saying they felt their staffing assignment made them more employable.

As the needs of business and employees evolve, the staffing industry continues to evolve as well. Acting as hiring experts and consultants, firms partner with their clients to solve workforce needs and are often seen as a critical piece of a company’s hiring strategy. 

Want to know more about the staffing industry? Check out the American Staffing Association’s online timeline and historical archive.


Want to know more about the creative hiring specialists at Portfolio Creative? Connect with our team at portfoliocreative.com/contactus

People Like Us

Why We Started a Business

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Two graphic designers start a business, but it’s not a graphic design business. That is, we don’t design anything. The people we work with are the creatives and we just decided to help everyone find each other.

People like us, in the creative industry, know the challenges of finding great help. We also know the challenges of finding a place where we are happy to do our craft. Speaking for myself, I started out in a production role. Then did graphic design, then I designed gift wrap, then I worked at an ad agency, then another one, then I got into two retail marketing departments after freelancing for them and freelancing for a few other companies in between all of that. Creative roles needed to keep me interested and I moved around often. I am guessing that the majority of the people in creative roles operate in a very similar way.

People like us struggle where our creativity can’t be free, be challenged, be made to blossom. We know that we might be the misfits of an organization because we think differently and do our work with the opposite side of our brain than everyone else. We think in color. If we are lucky, we also can fire up the entire brain and think logically. People like us were told to write with our right hands, pay attention and stop doodling, and quite often were discouraged to be good at math.

That is why we wanted to help people like us. We understand what it is like to be the client looking for a candidate that will come in and “get it.” One that won’t have to be trained on the software and can bring a specialized talent to the table. We also understand what it is like to be a talented person just wanting to be a part of the creative process and really want to “wow” the team. We help them by knowing them. We help them by connecting them. We help them by being a part of their career and their creative process by finding the people that we would want to work on our projects. 

In order to do all of this properly, we needed to make this a business. It was a full-time job. Sure, it might look like a staffing company but it really is about connecting people like us. It is about understanding our clients' projects and understanding who is the best person for the task. It’s about partnership and pride and making creative things, and we love that we have created a business that brings together people like us.

Let’s all be creative together.


#SheMeansBusiness Presents: Women at Work

Recently, Facebook stopped by our office to learn more about our Co-Creators, Kristen and Catherine, for their #shemeansbusiness series.

Watch the full video below!