Headhunting vs. Recruiting


While recruiters and headhunters appear to be performing the same function, headhunters use a very different approach to find talent. All recruiters hunt for talent, but a headhunter uses a rifle instead of a shotgun.

The primary difference between headhunting and recruiting is that a headhunter doesn’t rely on a list of candidates that have already expressed interest in changing their career path. A headhunter operates as an advocate for their client and actively searches inside and outside of their network for a professional who is the ideal candidate for a role they thoroughly understand.

Finding the Right Candidate

A true headhunter asks the right questions so they can understand the exact requirements of the role. The information a headhunter gathers should include specific skill sets, experience working in the same or similar industry, experience working with a particular size of a company, understanding company culture, and many other areas that a typical recruiter may deem ancillary but a true headhunter knows will make a very big impact on the process.

The headhunter will actively pursue professionals currently in similar roles who match the experience and qualifications required for the position, as well as any potential candidates who may be on the hunt for a new position. Also, headhunter does not limit the search to the market the position is already in and many times finds candidates who are willing to relocate in order to pursue the opportunity.

Vetting the Candidate

A headhunter knows that hiring managers and company leaders do not have time to filter out candidates that are not a great fit. By thoroughly vetting the candidate before they are ever presented to the client, a headhunter ensures that the majority of time is spent interviewing and getting to know the candidate(s) and NOT interviewing professionals who ultimately have no chance of being hired. This is why it is so important for a headhunter to ask the client the right questions before hunting for the ideal candidate.

candidates waiting to speak with recruiter

Finding Top Talent. Fast.

A true headhunter understands that while quality comes first, speed makes a big difference for the client. Only the most connected, organized, and knowledgeable recruiters can get the job done with the speed and precision needed by top companies. Often times the average recruiter will try to meet aggressive deadlines by sending their client a plethora of resumes and potential candidates and asking the client to sift through them – this defeats the purpose of working with an agency. The difference between the shotgun approach and the rifle approach makes a big difference – at Search Solution Group we are snipers!


Continued Relationship Building

Of professionals who are not actively looking to change positions, 84% will show interest when you present them with a better opportunity. Roles evolve, company objectives change, professionals become less challenged, leadership retires, and companies grow. By being more in-tune with their networks, headhunters are able to understand these changes and find better candidates for roles.

So, what makes a Recruiter a true Headhunter?

A good headhunter not only understands thoroughly their clients, but can also hunt and find talent that will excel in the position and fit effortlessly into the company environment. A dedicated headhunter not only networks through technology, but face-to-face as well. Attending industry events and career fairs is a pertinent task to be a successful headhunter.

A successful headhunter has to be quick, intelligent, and have the ability to quickly read and understand people.

Acquiring new clients is not always an easy feat and requires a copious amount of tenacity and resilience. Moving with marksman-like precision and breakneck speeds is not for the faint of heart, but the thrill of results and truly satisfied clients is what motivates the true hunters out there.