Mark Henderson has developed an interesting system for using recruiters more effectively.
The “pull” model, where recruiters contact you, serves neither you nor the recruiters well: they contact you when you’re not looking, and they don’t hear from you when you are. Consider then the “push” model, an easy way to push updates to recruiters when your availability, skillset, and interests change.
When a recruiter contacts him, he asks them to sign up for his mailing list. When he’s ready to look for a new gig, he sends out an email to the mailing list announcing his availability.
I’m not sure how well this would work for a full-time employee who isn’t frequently looking for a job, but for a contractor or freelancer, it seems like a useful approach.