An employment agency is an organization which matches employers to employees. In all developed countries, there is a publicly funded employment agency and multiple private businesses which act as employment agencies. An executive-search firm specializes in recruiting executive personnel for companies in various industries. This term may apply to job-search-consulting firms who charge job candidates a fee and who specialize in mid-to-upper-level executives. In the United States, some states require job-search-consulting firms to be licensed as employment agencies.
Some third-party recruiters work on their own, while others operate through an agency, acting as direct contacts between client companies and the job candidates they recruit. They can specialize in client relationships only (sales or business development), in finding candidates (recruiting or sourcing), or in both areas. Most recruiters tend to specialize in either permanent, full-time, direct-hire positions or in contract positions, but occasionally in more than one. In an executive-search assignment, the employee-gaining client company – not the person being hired – pays the search firm its fee.