Direct Hire vs. Staffing Company – My Crossroads


I am at a crossroads. 

In May 2012, I traveled 5,000 +  miles  from Atlanta, Georgia to Kenai, Alaska (details in a previous post).During my 12 day stay, I observed 3 different SLPs – 2 in schools and 1 in private practice. After this visit, I was hooked. Now I want to live and work in Alaska as an SLP. Here we go.

On a beach in the Kenai Peninsula

Since then, I’ve flipped-flopped between waiting to work in Alaska until I finish my CF or actually doing my CF in Alaska. At the moment, I want to complete my CF in Alaska; so I’ve been looking into positions and exploring my options as both a direct hire or via staffing companies. Below is my experience with both school districts and staffing companies so far.

School districts: 

If a school district hires you, then it is considered a direct hire position. I’ve posed the following questions and received these answers from some Alaska School Districts:

  1. When do I need to apply for a CF – SLP  position in a school?
    • Ans: Around January/February of the same year I will be applying (2013-2014)
  2. Do you provide a CF supervisor?
    • Ans: Yes, they will designate someone.
    • Heidi Kay at Pediastaff posed great questionsto ask employers regarding CFs:
      • “Find an employer who a) will need you for the entire nine months;
      • b) has the means and staff to supply you with supervision, and
      • c) needs you badly enough to pay for your supervision despite the fact that they will essentially be training you to leave after the year is up.”
  3. How do I apply for my license in the state of Alaska as an SLP- CF?
  4. Does my CF Supervisor need to fill out anything in the licensure application? 
    • Ans: Yes, in the application (above), the CF Supervisor must submit page 5 of the license with their information (i.e. ASHA #, address, phone number, relationship to CF). Without knowing who your CF supervisor is, you cannot complete the application.
  5. Will I know far ahead of time if I have a position?
    •  Ans: They try to give letters of intention to those who they plan to hire. This means, they may not know which exact school I will be in, but it guarantees that I will have a position come Fall 2013 (If they offer me one).

Moving from Atlanta to Alaska will be quite the move. The down-side to direct hire is they may not offer travel reimbursement, housing allowance, or other monetary help for my transition; it really depends on the district contract.

Staffing Companies: 

A staffing company serves to help therapists find positions across the country; the therapist is paid by the company instead of the institution where they work.  I have spoken with Pediastaff, a  staffing company that places SLPs in schools, clinics, and hospital settings that focus on pediatrics.  I have also spoken with other SLPs and staffing companies to get a wide variety of answers; here is a summary of the questions and answers:

  1. What are some benefits to using a staffing company over being a direct hire therapist? 
    • Ans:  Increased pay. While staffing companies may cannot offer the same insurance schools/hospitals can, the increased hourly pay offers therapists the opportunity to supplement.
    • Extras. A school therapist who works for a staffing company may not have to do the ‘extras’ that a direct hire therapist has to (i.e. bus duty, lunch room duty, etc).
    • Advocate: As companies look to the staffing agency to find therapists, having a staffing consultant who knows what you are looking for and your experience, can help you find job you want, without the headache of constantly looking.
    • Ability to relocate. Once your contract is over or up for renewal at a current placement, the staffing consultants can be searching positions for you based on your parameters.  While the positions may come available last minute, you can rely on the company, such as Pediastaff, to continue their services outlined in your contract.
    • Reimbursement: Since schools are publicly funded, they may not have the money to reimburse therapists to relocate or the cost of travel. Staffing companies usually pay per diem rates that can help off-set costs.
    • Heidi Kay from Pediastaff has written an excellent post regarding selection of settings: Part 1 and Part 2
  2. Why do many staffing companies have such a bad rap? 
    • Ans: Staffing company buy-out fees. If a therapists wants out of his or her contract to become a direct hire, the company can choose to “buy out” the contract from the company. Different companies charge different fees, and this can cause tension.
    • Non-compete clauses. If you are working for a staffing company(or other places too) and decide to leave, some contracts have non-compete clauses which say you cannot work within a certain radius for a certain amount of time once you leave. Depending on your situation, this can make finding work complicated.
    • Off-site supervision: As a CF, you will still need supervision.  If a staffing company finds/hires an off-site supervisor, this experience can bring complaints and impact the overall importance of the CF year. Thus, the company ends up with the “bad rap”. Having a supervisor nearby to bounce ideas off of or share stories creates a more positive experience. For instance, Pediastaff strives to find on-site supervisors so the experience is enhanced.
    • Middlemen mentality:  Staffing companies do profit from finding therapists for their client base; obviously, they are a business as well. Job seekers may not know what company or school they are applying for until things become more serious during the application process. This can take therapists by surprise if they are unaware beforehand. Being proactive during the entire process will always help!

Sheesh…this has been a process in just collecting the information and making it coherent; I hope I have succeeded.  So many people have helped me during my ‘crossroads’ in deciding which avenue I want to pursue. I am still contemplating which avenue to pursue because both have so many options. *sigh* So many choices – better than none I guess. :)

What has your experience been? What have you heard are some negatives/positives to being a direct hire vs. using a staffing company? I’m always interested in what’s out there!

Carry on wayward blogosophere!

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About SLP_Echo

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist completing my Clinical Fellowship in Alaska.

Posted on October 17, 2012, in #slp2b, ASHA 2012 Convention and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Don’t forget that pretty much everything is negotiable. This includes no-compete clauses with staffing companies. I’ve had them completely removed from some contracts, had them modified to “no-solicit” clauses in others, and had the time length shortened in still others. Good luck!

  2. Hi Echo – I read your post with interest because I always thought I’d like to try Alaska for the adventure, but have too many ties here in New England (parents, children, grandchild) and couldn’t be that far away for that long. I would definitely have gone for it if I had been a traditional student (I went back at age 42). Good luck to you and enjoy!! I have worked for both staffing and direct hire and there are pros and cons to both – you have to find them out beforehand – that’s the trick. I am currently a direct-hire because most of the school districts in my area prefer that avenue, to save money, and that’s how I got my job. Because I have such a large caseload and lots of administrative duties (two SLAs), I have no other “duties” – bus, playground, lunch, etc. which is a huge plus. I need every minute I have!! But it does differ with every employer and the trick is to know what to ask – I made up a list for the interviews so I wouldn’t forget.

    • Thank you so much for sharing!!! I fell in love with Alaska when I went, and just have such a desire to go back and work. Direct hire seems to have more of what I’m looking for at the moment, but only time will tell. :) Thanks for the read.

  3. As a second year OT student, I hope to make the move to AK too after graduation. My advisor cautioned me to be aware of non-compete clauses in an area such as AK with fewer career options, especially in a smaller town like Kenai. Thanks for the post and to the commenter ‘stonecold’ for the reminder that everything is negotiable!

  4. As soon as I detected this web site I went on reddit to share some of the love with them.

  5. For SLPs that are in remote areas like AK there is an incredible online courses (especially if your in the medical field) called Comprehensive Dementia by The Speech Team, Inc. It covers a ton of stuff, and the company has been providing cutting edge therapy tools and instruction for twenty years. The course is everything you’ll need for dementia populations, and fills the gap left by colleges and universities in regards to the various dementias.

  6. Great Post! I’ve found using good luck in the past using supremestaff.com. Hope that helps! Love to see more posts like this.

  7. Thanks for the information. After seven years working in the school districts, I’m strongly considering going the contracting / staffing company route. I do need health care and to work locally — any suggestions for a staffing company that offers major medical and looks for local positions? Thanks!!

  1. Pingback: How IT Staffing Companies Provide Employment | The Career Advisor

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