If you've exhausted your personal network (and friends' networks), and now need to hire people who have skills that you don't have, would you try working with a staffing agency?
I've heard a lot of bad things about them, just from reading online, so wanted to get some opinons from those of you who have actually used them. What was your experience like?
If you wouldn't use a staffing agency, how would you go about hiring people who have skills you don't have?
Hiring is tricky, most standard recruitment agents are nothing more than order takers ... They just tick off skills which isn't helpful, I have found 2 Recruiters that understand our company and our culture and have the ability to find suitable fits.
That said it took working with 15-20 different agenecies in 14 years to get these 2.
One bit of advice though, the good ones usually run their own show or are principal players, they don't focus on skillset much, they write very creative job ads to hook the right candidate, they spend a long time talking to you about your business, goals, pain points etc and often suggest better alternatives to what you are asking for.
If all you have is an order taker then, most bad experiences come from bad upfront breifs. I wrote a page of dot points decribing personality traits, goals, interests etc as the brief to recruiters ... The ones that questioned me on this list I gave a chance to.
The good news, John, is that right now MANY people are looking for work. Place a Help Wanted ad in your local newspaper and/or post the job on any of the online job boards and you will receive many inquiries.
Then your only challenge will be to figure out which applicant best meets your needs and will most benefit your company.
Big staffing agencies are usually a dry well, especially for small organizations. You're going to end up sifting through a ton of mismatched resumes and unqualified candidates, and it's frequently going to be the same batch of resumes you'd get by hitting the major public job posting places in your area. Small staffing agencies, often single individuals, can be another deal, though. A good one will actually listen to what you're looking for, take the time to understand your needs and will work with a higher quality of candidate. You will probably be able to tell the good ones pretty rapidly by the quality of the first couple candidates they send you. Try and work your personal network for references on recruiters that others have used, either to hire someone or to be placed, and you might be able to do well.
Network by attending trade conferences (not your own, but theirs!), or via passive networking via LinkedIn, niche blogs and forums, and of course by participating in relevant Stack Exchange sites.
I found the premium they tacked onto the cost of the employee to place many of those employees out of reach of my startup. Our local unemployment office was more helpful in terms of potential employees and their fee was a nice $0. Plus the people I found that way actually wanted a job.