Headhunter vs. Recruiter: What Exactly Is the Difference?

Do you have a good eye for talent?

A lot of people like to think they do, but it takes a special person to weed through all the possible candidates for a job and pick the one with the best skills and the best work ethic.

A lot of companies struggle to hire the best person for the job. If you have what it takes to find that person, you just might be the perfect candidate for a position as a headhunter or recruiter.

So, what is a headhunter vs. a recruiter?

Definitions: Headhunter vs. Recruiter

A headhunter is a person or company that finds the perfect candidates for a position a company is looking to fill. The headhunter then recommends the candidates they find to the company looking to hire.

A recruiter, on the other hand, posts job listings and acts as the point of contact between the job candidate and the company. The recruiter pre-screens candidates and begins the hiring process.


Though recruiters have similar jobs to headhunters, their approaches to finding candidates are very different.

A headhunter contacts candidates who are qualified for a certain position. A recruiter receives and sorts through job applications.

Headhunters are looking for high quality candidates. They specialize in one field and narrow down several possible employees to just a few.

Headhunters are qualified to fill positions on all levels of a company, not just the top. Headhunters do what it sounds like: they find the one person who is most qualified for a position, no matter the job level.

Recruiters are better for hiring several employees at once. A recruiter doesn’t often specialize and works with several different industries. If there is more than one position available, a recruiter finds the job most suitable for the candidates who apply.

Hirer for Hire: Payment

Recruiters and headhunters can work on contingency, contract, or retainer.

Working on contingency is like agreeing to work on a contract. If you find the right person for the job and the company hires them, then you get paid.

Look for the going rate for headhunting vs. recruiting in your area to help you decide between the two. Pay range can vary for both recruiters and headhunters.

Recruiters and headhunters who work on contracts are paid an amount they agree to in a contract.

Working on retainer is like hiring a lawyer on retainer. The headhunter or recruiter agrees to work for a certain amount of money to find the right candidate for the job whenever needed.

Which to Choose?

Headhunters specialize in finding quality candidates for every position. Recruiters can help hire those who apply.

Either a headhunter or a recruiter could suit the needs of a company depending on the volume of jobs to fill and number of candidates for those jobs.

Whether you are looking to hire a headhunter vs. a recruiter, or want to become one of the two, Kerry Consulting is a good place to start.

Kerry Consulting can help you find the right people to suit the needs of your company, and if you have an eye for talent, they might be looking for you!

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