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Help Wanted: How to Work With Headhunters

Working with headhunters is a mutually beneficial experience. The job seeker receives the opportunity to get a great new career. The headhunter makes the client happy by making the connection. Everyone wins. But, there is still a lot of questions regarding headhunters. What exactly do they do? Who do they work for? How does one become a headhunter?


Headhunting is the process of hiring talent who fit a specific skill set the client seeks. At times, they are already employed. However, that is not a deterrent. Headhunting has a reputation for being the most effective way to recruit new prospects that may or may not be actively seeking new employment. Recruiters employ headhunters for three main reasons.

  1. They have had the position open for a long time. No one is applying for the job, or the applicants are not qualified for the position.

  2. They are looking for specific skills within a niche. Trying to sift through hundreds of applicants (many unqualified) would be too time-consuming. So, they go to the headhunter to find someone who has the specialized qualifications they need for the role.

  3. A company does not want to publicly advertise that open position.They want the search to be kept confidential for several reasons. Companies use this strategy when they need to terminate an employee and find a replacement fast. They may have had bad luck in the past with prospects calling the company excessively. Now, they only let serious prospects know their identity.

How do they contact you?

  • Directly – First, the recruiter or headhunter does a thorough search of your background, education, skills, and qualifications. Then the recruiter or headhunter will call or email you directly.

  • Indirectly – a hiring manager may ask the recruiter or headhunter to contact a specific person. If the person is willing they will start the interviewing process.

  • Staffing firm – The search firm contacts prospects on the behalf of the company.

What’s the difference between a headhunter, recruiter, and hiring manager?

These three roles are different. However, they share some of the same skills required for the role. The main difference is who they work for.

  • Headhunter – The headhunter works for a third-party staffing company. The company hires the agency to look for talent to fill a typically urgent role. The agency has a list of contacts they can call to try to fill the role quickly. They are paid when a prospect is hired. Working with a headhunter can be great. But, like with any other job, you want to do your due diligence before accepting a position. The headhunter works on the behalf of the client paying them.

  • Recruiter – Recruiters share many of the same tasks and responsibilities as headhunters. There is one big difference though. Recruiters are employees of the company itself, not a third-party agency.

  • Hiring manager – the hiring manager is also an internal employee of the company. They are decision makers in the hiring process and work at a supervisory level. They do not actively recruit prospects, but they are heavily involved in the process.

Qualities of a great headhunter:

Headhunting can be a challenging and rewarding profession. There are many soft skills required to be effective in the role.

  1. You need to be thick-skinned. Like with a sales role, you will be receiving your fair share of rejection. But, it’s a numbers game so keep on going.

  2. When it comes to contacting a prospect, sometimes you must get creative. If their contact information isn’t available online, do you have a friend who can help you out? Do you have a contact with one of their former co-workers who can give you an email address? Your prospect may not be putting themselves out there because they are not actively looking for a new role. So, you must go the extra mile. Just remember, all that work pays off when you pair your client up with a great employee. That’s repeat business for you.

  3. You have got to act fast. There are tons of competition for qualified candidates and you want to snag them first.

Headhunting can be a lucrative career choice, and good ones are quite valuable to clients and job seekers. Are you looking to fill a role in your company? Struggling to find qualified applicants, and up to your ears in applications? Let the experts at Proficient Staffing help. We scour our diverse pool of candidates to find the right person for you. Contact us today.

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