Here's a very common scene...
I'm at a social gathering or some place where I have just met someone new. We exchange the typical pleasantries, which generally leads to the inevitable question, "What do you do?" I tell them that I'm a recruiter, and then they say, "Well, I need to tell my son/daughter/neighbor/cousin/friend about you and have them send you their resume. He/she is interested in making a job change." I typically smile, then say, "Well, that's not really what I do. I find people for jobs, but I don't find jobs for people." Then the person I'm talking to looks disappointed or maybe even a little embarrassed. A few people have even appeared to be insulted from my response because they think that they were doing me a favor and I rejected it outright. Believe me, I am not trying to be rude or insensitive, but there is no point in wasting someone's time or giving them an expectation that will not come to fruition.
I also get a lot of calls and emails from people who say, "You recruited my brother-in-law for a position at XYZ Company, and he loves it. Can you do the same for me?" Then I try to explain the same thing to these job seekers.
One of the biggest misconceptions about what recruiters do is that they find jobs for people. Candidates often think that all they need to do is send their resumes via email attachment to a recruiter and that recruiter will immediately get started on finding the ideal job for them.
It doesn't work that way.
Recruiters work solely for the organization that has given them the task of finding a person with specific skills and experience for a particular job in their organization. The companies / organizations pay the fees, so that is where the recruiter will spend his/her time. No recruiter is going to spend time and effort, uncompensated, searching for the ideal position for a job seeker.
In a typical week, I get 12 - 15 unsolicited resumes from people who ask me to keep their resume on file in case I have a client who can use their unique skill set and experience. I file them electronically, but in my 15 years in the recruiting industry, I have found exactly one resume that resulted in an interview out of the thousands that I have received. The reason is that most recruiters, including me, tend to specialize in industries that they know well and they do not try to be everything for everyone. The great percentage of unsolicited resumes I receive are from people who are in industries that I do not represent or they have specific skills and experience that are not part of what my clients need. So, statistically speaking, the chances that an unsolicited resume will come from someone who is in the field that I am searching for the ideal candidate for my client are remote at best.
If you are going to send your resume to a recruiter, take the time to be sure that the recruiter recruits in the field that you are pursuing. Most recruiters' websites will tell you what areas they work in, and in many cases they may list the jobs that they are trying to fill for their clients. I do not list those jobs on my website because it just encourages unqualified candidates to flood my inbox with resumes that are not even close to being a fit for the job...and it takes just as much time to evaluate a bad resume as it does to look at a good one.
Finally, if you send your resume to a recruiter or even directly to an organization that is trying to fill a position without using a recruiter, ask yourself if your resume actually contains the kind of information that will make someone want to talk to you. We are in a strong buyer's market now, and if your resume is just the typical "name, contact information, education, work history' format, it probably will not get past the 4 - 6 second review that most resumes get. We can help you with that if you don't know what those elements are that should be included.