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What are Personnel?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Personnel are people who are employed by a company or organization to perform some kind of work. Personnel can vary from unskilled laborers hired to do daily contract work to highly skilled professionals such as doctors who staff a hospital. A number of nations have laws which are designed to protect the workforce by mandating minimum wages, working environments, and standards of behavior.

In a large company, there may be an entire personnel office which is dedicated to managing the company's staff. This office is responsible for hiring new personnel to fill job openings, providing training to new staff members, and monitoring the performance of staff members. The office also provides information about benefits, responds to complaints from employees, and handles a variety of other situations, ranging from obtaining security clearances for people working in sensitive areas to providing the accounting department with information about new employees so that they can be paid.

Personnel can provide a variety of services to their employers, and they may be hired under a variety of terms. Some are full time workers, while others are part timers, and companies can also hire temporary personnel or independent contractors to supplement their work force. When people are hired by a company or contracted to perform a task, they have an opportunity to negotiate the terms of their employment, discussing issues like compensation, working hours, and benefits.

Some companies source their employees through personnel agencies. At an agency, people looking for work sign up and provide information about their skills and qualifications. The agency provides placements, responding to needs for employees from clients by sending out the most qualified candidates from the agency. Some agencies send a group of candidates, allowing a company to select the employee they want, while others provide direct placement, sending a single person to fill a job opening.

Smaller companies and agencies handle their personnel needs on a case by case basis, with employees being interviewed personally by the owners or a staff member working in the area where there is a job opening. A candidate may need to go through several interviews, or just one, depending on the job and the size of the company. One advantage to meeting directly with employers rather than a personnel office is that job candidates get an opportunity to talk directly with company decisionmakers about company policies, the company's business ethics, and other topics which may be of interest or concern.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By BrickBack — On Jul 27, 2010

Bhutan- I agree with you that many agency recruiters often look to human resource jobs because they want to feel apart of one companies’ team and continue develop ideas to assist its workforce.

The main difference between personnel management and human resource management is that human resource management views the potential employee as an integral part of the company, thus offering benefits, while in personnel management the focus is just getting that project or assignment done and hiring temporary workers or independent contractors who are not a part of the company are often used especially when the workload is too great for the standard employee.

By Bhutan — On Jul 27, 2010

I just wanted to add that many recruiters that work for an agency that work in personnel management usually seek human resources jobs at a single company.

Many times the experience that these recruiters have received hiring and interviewing candidates serves them well in a new human resource position.

Often recruiters for an agency get tired of the fast paced nature of agency work and seek a different working environment when pursing human resource jobs.

This time when a previous agency recruiter decides to work for one company as their recruiter they often call on the same agency that they used to work for and offer them the business.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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