A long post, but a good real world perspective straight from a recruiter.
Not sure how many people land from submitting resumes to those sites, but it’s easy for us to post there and it gets more candidates. I’m sure we’ve probably placed candidates who’ve applied through websites but it’s not the norm. We have a fixed price contract with Exec-u-net so there’s no marginal cost to post. It’s pretty easy to sift through a large number of resumes, so even if we got a couple of hundred resumes from a site like that, it would probably only take someone an hour or so to go through them. From a recruiter’s perspective, the marginal cost is zero and if you get one candidate from posting it’s worth it. We’re more likely to find candidates directly or through referrals though.
I will say, we used to use The Ladders, but I think they’ve changed their policy to where they charge now for posting positions and I think they charge by the position. So we’ve cut back on using them a lot.
You’re odds of landing by posting for a position on one of those sites is low, but you’re odds of landing for positions you don’t know about and don’t apply for are zero.
The advice I give everyone I meet with is: Get a list of recruiters from a source like Kennedy Publications “Directory of Executive Recruiters” (http://www.kennedyinfo.com/directory/executiverecruiters?C=cBkYD0RHysVecxvy) and create an e-mailing list of 200-300 RETAINED recruiters who look for people like you (unless you want people blasting your resume out on a fishing trip … then add contingency ones). I think Kennedy has something where you can create a mailing list and pay them some price for it. Make sure you GET the mailing list and it’s not just one that’s on their website where you have to pay them each time you use it. Use a program like Worldcast (http://www.fairlogic.com/worldcast/), which is free for private use, to EMAIL (not call) your list of recruiters (makes it automated and looks like you’re writing each recruiter individually)
Have a VERY short email … basically just your industry, function, etc. preferably in bullet points (think “flash cards” … recruiters don’t like narratives … too hard to scan quickly … we’re usually looking for something like a half dozen key things, the faster we can see if you’re in the ballpark on those the better)
Have your resume attached in a Word document (not a bio and not a link to your resume on the internet)
Don’t ask for or expect a phone call or email back (if you’re anywhere in the ballpark for a search a recruiter is working on they will call you)
Send an e-mail about once a month to your recruiter list.
Some people have suggested having an attachment that may be of interest to the recruiters … nice, but not necessary, it’s timing that counts
The reality is, recruiters really do spend only a few seconds looking at a resume so its really easy to scan a resume to see if it’s a match for something you’re working on. If it’s a match, you’ll call the person or have someone else call the person pretty quickly. If it’s not a match, you move on. Opening a resume and viewing it is very quick and easy … it’s calling that’s time consuming and if you’re not a match, it doesn’t really help you much anyway.
As a candidate, your best bet of getting a job from a recruiter is having them see your resume when they have a search you might be a match for. The easiest way to do that is “ping” them on a regular basis without expecting a call or e-mail back. Monthly is good. It’s not so rapid that it’s pestering (an investment banker told me one time “there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest”), but it’s not so long that a whole search has gone by you might have been a match for.
You can subscribe to websites like NetShare and Exec-u-net and you might get some leads there. But whether you do or not, make sure you’re pinging recruiters en masse on a regular basis so you’re visible when they have a search you could be a match for.