there are many threads on the subject of using or not using recruiters. Always bear in mind that they should be representing the client. If you are a genuinely good fit for the client and the recruiter has a strong relationship/the ability to influence, the recruiter can be a great help in guiding you through the process and getting you access to opportunities you might not find yourself. If a role is advertised directly by the client and with a recruiter, it is very unlikely that the recruiter has a formal mandate. This does not necessarily mean you should not consider the recruiter route, however. A good/reputable recruiter with a good hit rate will have an advantage over you. If the client needs to fill slots for an interview day and knows that the recruiter will supply relevant CV's, it may be that your application is read before the direct applicants when the client is short on time. Imagine you are the recruitment co-ordinator, you have an hour to tee up 3 more candidates for next week's interview day. You have 1000 candidates but you know that 60% of Joe Bloggs Recruitment's candidates get through to final stage interview. You sort your emails find 5 from Joe, choose the best three and away you go. job done.
1. send CV with a short email bullet pointing key relevant info (tangible/numbers/project sizes/sectors etc not I am a people person...). send as a PDF if you do not know the recruiter. No recruiter will forward on a PDF without speaking to you as they cannot edit out your contact details and put their logo on it.
2. if no response send 1 more short email. If still no response, let it go.
3. assuming you and the recruiter are now talking, ask a lot of questions regarding the recruiter's success in dealing with the client, roles filled, level of interaction etc. if in doubt try to trip up the recruiter somehow by throwing in a bogus name and asking if the recruiter knows the person. alternatively, get the recruiter talking about the industry/company etc. Ask about the interview process if selected. This is not because you need to know all this stuff at this stage but you need to know that recruiter knows it all and will be able to support you down the line. If you are convinced that the recruiter actually has some real traction, you will be better off going through the recruiter. The confident recruiter will say "I do not know" rather than try to blag.