Roger, please look at my blog, http://dougneeper.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/companies-that-offer-to-get-you-a-job-for-a-fee/. I think this will address your question re the recruiter.
I ‘hear’ you as being on the verge of asking another question though, and that’s should someone spend $X, to create a personal marketing campaign. You have to weigh the costs / benefits, and just like your observation regarding the recruiter really doing something that you could / should be doing yourself, paying someone to help you create your ‘personal brand’, could be worth the $ and clearly help you jumpstart your search.
The concept of ‘personal branding’, according to my mentor Walt Feigenson, is getting a consistent message out ‘there’ about yourself, then becoming viewed as a ‘thought leader’. At this point, people will literally be coming to you, rather than you trying to find them, and they’ll be coming to you with offers / business proposals in hand. FYI, I’m in the FP&A business and have no intentions of becoming a personal brander.
Personal branding could entail creating a website, working on your resume, insuring that your resume was consistent with your linkedin profile, ‘claiming’ your identity on the Internet, and replying to blogs, blogging yourself. This is all something you can most likely do yourself (I do), but the cost is that you’ll make mistakes and it will take time.
If you want to talk, call me at 925.938.8261, or email me (doug.neeper or comment on my blog to continue a dialog.