Working with a staffing firm or a recruiter is an added advantage for a job seeker in ANY market. There will always be those who choose to apply directly to a company’s careers page, and those that leverage their internal network to find a new job.
However, there shouldn’t be any hesitancy to also using a staffing firm or executive recruiter in your job search.
Staffing firms all operate pretty much the same way, and cover nearly every possible job sector you can imagine (government, IT, marketing, accounting, defense, sales, law, etc). A firm will reach an agreement with a company to use them to fill all or some of their open positions. Typically this is because they are currently either too busy to work on a particular role, or struggling to fill on their own. The added advantage for a company is that they can make use of contractors this way, instead of hiring them directly.
A good agency will have a wide variety of clients within a certain city or market, giving them access to more jobs in which they are tasked to fill. For a candidate, this is exactly who you want to be working with to find a job.
Staffing firms typically have a relationship with the hiring manager– that is– the person who MAKES ALL THE HIRING DECISIONS. If you could work with someone who would get your resume in front of their face, wouldn’t you want that? That’s the advantage of working with a recruiter or a staffing firm. No longer does your resume have to sit in a huge dusty pile of LinkedIn or Indeed applicants and go overlooked. It goes right TO the manager.
At the same time, you are doing your own search and talking to your network to aid in the search. I always tell my candidates to cast a wide net for yourself when you are in the job hunt. An agency is just another tool to use so you aren’t alone in your job search.