OK - ill put this example to you then, for comment - from both industry colleagues and recruiters alike.
I was in the process of changing jobs 6 months ago - spoke to a few consultants that mentioned 2 positions, both in strategy, that really appealed to me.
They sent my CV over, and alas - a negative response returned. I didnt have the 'right' experience, or, 'enough' experience, or whatever. Fine.
But being my stubborn self, I contacted the HR department for both jobs direct - and left my CV. 4 weeks later, what do you know - not only was I called from both firms - I recieved offers from BOTH!
Now, the way I see it there are only two options:
1) The recruiters never sent my details through in the first place
2) The recruiters lie about roles: they offer you specs that they still have not been assigned, for companies they probably dont work for. When thier deals fall through the floor, they just inform us we have been 'rejected'.
3) They misrepresent our application. You see, I am strongly convinced 95% of recruiters do not know what they are talking about. They see 'performance improvement across all stages of the value chain' and well, match it to a spec that says you need 'performance improvement experience.' Thats as far as thier understanding goes. THATS the real problem. I sometimes feel like jumping down the handset when the 24 year old on the other side of the phone says he can absolutely understand my 18 years experience in business turnaraound and exit strategy formulation...
There are exceptions, mind you. I have spoken to some recruiters, generally ex consultants, who are SUPERB and have a fantastic network of connections. I usually find these to be the smaller, more personal companies.
I think the moral of my midnight ramble is to preach the strength of our power! By networking and connecting, such as with this site, we can easily bypass the system - and cash on handsome referral schemes.