To summarize in a cliche, I'd like to think that what you get out
of a relation with a recruiter is what you put in. If you find a
recruiter you can trust, cultivate the relation and everyone will
benefit. Otherwise, it will be hit and miss whether a recruiter
helps you or is simply a source of funny stories.
I'm was having trouble with your conclusion (that you get out what you put in) until I read the big "If" of the second sentence... IF you "find a recruiter you can trust" is great in theory, but much tougher in practice. In thirteen years of contracting and dealing with many agencies (well over 20, anyway) I've found only one agency that I can count on to deal honestly with me and the client at the same time.
Of course I cultivate a relationship with that agency... but there was no point in trying to cultivate a relationship with any agency until I found this one. If an agency demonstrates that they'll lie, misrepresent, manipulate, and take advantage, you won't "get out... what you put in." They'll take you for what they can get, and toss you aside when they're done.
Find the one honest recruiter in thirty, and cultivate a relationship with *that* recruiter. That's my advice.
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