The interests don‘t really seem to be aligned. Recruiters get around 20% of the 1st year salary. I wonder if that makes them do some shady stuff to secure jobs for candidates that are not qualified. If I should avoid the recruiter route would you recommend another way around it?
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My experience is that they are good when you need to start recruiting specific roles (say graphic designer, or a Java programmers) but totally useless when you need a seek someone for a flexible role, which is what most early stage startups need.
The best I found is via your personal network, or otherwise via LinkedIn and similar. You can do the active search, find people you like and approach them directly.