Contract Recruiting is hot again, as companies look for recruiters who can come in, hit the phones, place some candidates, and, uh, the companies get to try before they buy (otherwise known as the worst recruiting spiel of all time).
Doug Franklin, who writes the Contract Recruiting blog for ERE, says they see rates from $45-$75 in most places, with rates up to $100 in the big cities.
In St Louis - experience will get you up to $45 an hour, if that experience is a good track record, but expect most staffing firms to pay you $25-35 an hour if they are placing you.
Why should you consider contract staffing?
1) You left your staffing firm job, and your non-compete prevents you from recruiting for another firm.
2) You left your job and have no clear idea what you want to do.
3) You left your job because you weren't making any money.
Contract recruiting fixes all of those problems, but you should be prepared for a different kind of world.
1) You're not working for a fee anymore, which means more work for less pay (but guaranteed pay).
2) You get paid by the hour, so you have to produce by the hour, which means less time for experimentation.
3) Payed by the hour = "heavy phone work." If you can't make 60-80 calls a day, you may want to reconsider.
4) Managers don't have to play nice with you - you're a temp. Better brush up on your corporate politics!
All said, contract recruiting is great work if you can get it. It is true that you get to sample companies before you decide to stick around, and if you decide to take a permanent job with that same company, chances are you're going to know whether or not you like it.
About that noncompete. I'll write more about it later, but before you sign any non-compete or non-solicit, you should have your lawyer look at it. If you don't have a lawyer, I'd suggest having Tim Willoughby look at it. He'll charge you a consultation fee, but if you're signing documents without thinking, you're restricting your future employment.
Tim has some great advice about employment law in Missouri on his website, but he can't get you out of a non-compete just because you want out. This isn't California.