Recruiting is my second least favourite part of HR – terminations being the least favourite, in case you were wondering. When it is working and candidates are clicking with the hiring party, it is awesome but this does not happen without a lot of leg work (and luck). Leg work I would rather not do and the hiring managers I am working with certainly do not have the capability or time to be doing. Having someone reliable and who truly understands my hiring needs and challenges is invaluable.
I am not suggesting you start picking up the phone and talking to each and every one of those recruiters that are simply speed dialing you without knowing a thing about your organization, but I am suggesting you start talking to other people in your industry, find out who they are using to help them recruit. Get an introduction and have the recruiter in for further discussion. This will be no different than any other interview you have conducted throughout your career. You are looking for an addition to your strategic team, so treat the meeting as such. Educate the recruiter about your needs, the challenges, the joys etc, and let them sell you on how they will assist you. You are not looking for a quick fix here; you are looking for a long term, mutually beneficial relationship. Your recruiter can be part of your strategic team, but they need to truly understand the hiring needs and the culture of the organization.
A good recruiter understands that exclusive relationships seldom work, and the truly excellent ones will welcome the competition because they know that their candidates are better, and are happy to put that to the test. Recruiters should be doing the legwork for you, you should not be seeing resumes until the recruiter has ensured that the candidate has met all the qualifications, is comfortable with the compensation, ready to make a change for the right opportunity AND fits with the culture. Recruiters who have not made an effort to gain organizational knowledge simply cannot do this for you.