What is the Difference Between a Headhunter and a Recruiter

What is the Difference Between a Headhunter and a Recruiter

The terms headhunter and recruiter are terms that are often interchangeable. However, each term has somewhat of a general consensus about their meaning. This article covers some of the most commonly held beliefs about what a headhunter and a recruiter is and does.

A Headhunter – Seeking Very Specific Talent

Companies hire a headhunter when they have specific positions that need filling, and said positions are often highly skilled positions. In many cases, the staff required for the job need to be poached from other companies.

A headhunter’s job is to help find the right people for the job, which includes finding people with the right temperament, qualifications and experience. Where a recruiter may employ a number of tools made to attract new employees, a headhunter searches people out rather than trying to attract them.

Though headhunters are tasked with finding talent, they are only involved in the beginning part of the hiring process. A headhunter is not expected to actually hire an employee, though the recruiter may do preliminary interviews.

A Recruiter – Seeking and Attracting New Employees

Though a recruiter may be tasked with finding highly skilled people with very specific skills, a recruiter may also be tasked with filling many roles. In situations where a company needs lots of employees very quickly, they may have a hard time finding enough people and so will employ recruiters.

A recruiter employs a number of tools to help find the right people, from posting adverts and hosting booths at job fairs, to scouring the Internet for people who would fit the role. A headhunter often deals with a smaller number of highly skilled positions, whereas a recruiter may fill several positions with tens of people. Plus, a recruiter may hire people with a varying range of skills, education and experience.

Recruiters may also have more involvement with the hiring process. They may also interview and hire people. Usually they hire people on temporary contracts, or on trial periods. The decision as to if the new hire should become a full-time employee, or stay on after the trial period, is often left up to higher management.

Proactive and Reactive

Though each situation is different, in general a recruiter is reactive whereas a headhunter is proactive. A recruiter may have to source a great many new employees to cover the holiday rush and may have to quickly hire people to fill a new department or business.

A headhunter may also be tasked with finding people quickly because of a change of business circumstances. However, a headhunter may also find employees to replace current employees. A headhunter may be asked to fill roles that are otherwise confidential, perhaps because of an upcoming department change or merger. Headhunters may also work to make a team better by routinely looking for alternative staff members to replace the current staff members.

Conclusion – Is One Better Than the Other?

It all depends on circumstances as to which is better. If you are opening a new store and need lots of low-skilled staff members, then a team of recruiters can probably get the job done fairly quickly. If you are looking for key staff members, or for higher quality talent, then a headhunter is probably your best option. A headhunter searches out higher quality and more senior staff members, which often takes a little longer.

However, if you are in a rush, companies like Eagle Headhunters maintain a database full of potential workers, so they may be able to offer a wide range of talented staff members right away, which is handy if a company has an urgent need for some highly skilled staff.

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