Searching for a new job can be one of the most daunting tasks that any of us ever faces. Even if you are gainfully employed while conducting your search it is still a frustrating and time consuming endeavor. Some people feel that looking for a new position is a job in and of itself.
Many of us remember the days of newspaper ads and hand delivering a paper resume directly to a hiring company. In most cases this approach is no longer advised as most companies now use an ATS (applicant tracking systems) which require that resumes be submitted electronically. While this makes sending your resume into a company easier, it also makes it more difficult to follow-up with the hiring company because you are unable to find out to whom you should be speaking. This is where using a recruiter can be helpful.
In most instances recruiters are in direct contact with the hiring manager and are able to provide feedback on your resume once it has been submitted and reviewed. However, it is your job to follow-up with the recruiter or else you may fall by the wayside if the feedback was not positive. Here's a note of caution. If a recruiter calls and informs you of an open position currently available but refuses to tell you who the client is, you should think long and hard before allowing them to submit your resume. Think about it. Would you send your confidential information into a blind address? In most cases companies that are in search of qualified applicants do not make the position confidential (in some cases they do, especially if the incumbent is about to be terminated) however recruiters typically use this "confidential posting" ploy in order to guarantee that the candidate doesn't tell other people (thus allowing that other person to apply on their own without going through the recruiter) or other recruiters (thus informing the competition of an open position). There is nothing wrong with telling a recruiter that you won't give your consent to submit your resume without knowing who the client company is (if the recruiter believes you to be a strong candidate for the position, they'll tell you who the client is in order to make sure that they are the ones who get your resume in).
Utilizing recruiters can be one of the easiest ways to conduct your job search. A good recruiter will do all of the leg work for you. They'll call you whenever a job is available that looks to be a good match for skill set, and they'll have inside information on some jobs that aren't even posted on the job boards yet. Most importantly, most recruiters get paid on commission (by the hiring company of course, using a recruiter doesn't cost you a dime.) What does this mean for you the job seeker? It means that the recruiter is going to work hard to make sure that you find a job in a timely fashion, and that you get paid a salary that is in your best interest (and the recruiters best interest, because the more money you make, the more money he/she makes).
Moral of the story? Use a recruiter when possible, because a good one will make the job search seem a little less daunting.