I always wondered how finding a job as a programmer was always so employer-centered. Sourcers find resumes and dump them on recruiters who dump the programmers on employers; yet no one is looking out for the programmer's needs. It seems so one-sided.
Athletes have agents. Movie, stage and screen people have agents. Musicians often have agents. Even house buyers can use a buyers agent if the local real estate people haven't put them out of business (real estate agents act like they are helping you, but they really are representing the seller).
There are millions of web sites that post jobs (some of them real, some of them not) and you can search all over the internet. If you find something interesting however you are on your own dealing with a recruiter (who acts like a friend but is really only interested in dumping you on the nearest employer) or HR person or whoever.
Sure, it doesn't cost the prospective employee anything but that's the rub, you don't get anything for the nothing you are paying. The employer pays everything and gets all the cards. If we were willing to pay 10% or whatever agents usually get, then they would be more motivated to find you something you wanted and get the best deal.
Sure agents can seem as unseemly as, well, recruiters; but if you maintain a relationship with them over time it is in their best monetary interest to find you long paying work that you are happy with, and also to understand your needs and abilities and make a good sale on your behalf.
In the long run an agent makes the most money if they can make their customers happy and employed long term; and thus will take the time to network and find the best opportunities. Rather than the employee having to hunt all over the country , trying to interpret stupid job ads, fight off nasty recruiters and sourcers, fill out myriads of forms and web sites (what is it with job sites that require 20 pages of forms just to look at a job), a programmer's agent would market your talents and find the best job for you.
I want someone on my side, the percentage I have to pay means I get real service, assuming the agent has a clue and a real network. In the end, the whole idea is to get the right person for the right job at the right price.
A nice dream but the industry seems to be set on having the employers pay for fishing and hope a good programmer falls in the net.