With the unemployment rate's literally 7-year low combined with a plethora of seemingly never-ending government benefits afforded to the underemployed and those who, not included in the figures, have given up looking for work entirely, it's no stinking wonder recruiting is hard!

And it's not like most of us are hiring for Disney or Southwest Airlines either, right? The positions we place for aren't all bad, of course, but applicants aren't lining up out the door and around the building to work a hot assembly line for $9 per hour either, at least not from what I've seen. (Just so we're clear, by hot I mean sweat dripping down your chin and down your drawers like you're in a Japanese POW Camp hot, not fashionably in vogue.)

If you think you can just put your feet on your desk and watch the applicants roll in like its 2009, you've got another thing coming. Unless you get out there and actively recruit, chances are your lobby will be about as full as the waiting room of the dentist who killed Cecil the lion.

So, recruit well we must. After all, isn't that ultimately why our clients utilize our services? More than ever, we've got to work hard, work smart, and think outside the box to point job seekers in our direction.

Here are a few recruiting ideas, in no particular order, to help you and your team get an edge on the competition. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please add your own ideas to the comment section!

Job Fairs - Sure, you're always hiring, but job fairs are a great way to highlight this and put an event spin on it. Aim for a job fair every couple of months and try multiple locations, from your own office to client facilities to libraries to the local unemployment office. Give out free doughnuts & promo items (free advertising, right?) and let applicants sign up for a nice door prize or two. If you get the word out even pretty well, you'll likely have decent traffic flow and some good applicants to put to work.

Employee Referrals - No matter what methods you use to recruit, referrals will likely always be your largest applicant source. Consequently, anything you can do to encourage referrals will help, up to and especially asking each and every person you come in contact with for a name and phone number of someone they know might need work. In many cases, paying a referral bonus of $25, $50, or even $100 (even more for professional direct-hire positions) for a referral who works at least a set amount of hours is one of the most targeted, strategic investments you can make. We always set the prerequisite that the employee referring must be either working with us or our client facility (they may have gone full time by then) when the referral reaches the required hours and the bonus is paid.

Client Referrals - Ultimately, people come to us so they can eventually end up at our clients, and that's a good thing! If you have a solid, exclusive relationship with a client who is willing to refer applicants to your agency to screen you may be able to leave signs, business cards, and/or sign-up materials in their lobby. This can be a rich source of candidate referrals. Even if the person isn't a good fit for that particular client, you might have somewhere else that's just perfect.

Hand-Distributed Print Material - Whether it's flyers, handouts, or brochures, getting print materials into the hands of the general public in your area costs no more than printing and the time it takes for your staff to hand them out. For distribution, the possibilities are as endless as your creativity.

Direct Mail - Design a catchy postcard describing what you do, purchase or obtain a list of likely job seekers in your area, get familiar with Microsoft Access, buy some postcard stamps, and unleash the legions of direct mail on your unwitting future-associates. It may even be a good idea, given how transient many of our people seem to be these days, to forgo the list entirely and just send the postcards to current residents of targeted neighborhoods.

Google+ - Google+ is the Yellow Pages of the Internet, and we all know the Internet is a lot bigger than the Yellow Pages ever were. Even if you haven't signed up, you are likely already on there by virtue of Google being Big Brother's older, scarier, much bigger Brother. If that's the case, all you need to do is go on there and claim the page. From that point you can upload photos, customize it, and add posts (a.k.a. job postings) like you would do on a Facebook page. The cool thing is, these posts are searchable.

Internet Marketing - From Job Boards to websites to social media to AdWords and SEO, these days if internet marketing doesn't comprise a significant chunk of your recruiting budget you aren't putting your money in the right place. I've already written a column dedicated to exactly this, so I won't repeat all of it here except to reiterate just how vital it is to a successful recruiting strategy.

I'm going to stop here, not because these are all the ways to recruit, but because I'd love for this article to include great comments from seasoned staffing pros who know a little about recruiting.

So, how do you get great people in the door? Please share!