What is Headhunting in Recruitment? | How Headhunting Works?

Sep 9, 2021 5 min read
What is Headhunting in Recruitment? | How Headhunting Works?

"If you're doing well, you're a target, nobody's interested in you except how you can be of use to them." - Richard Grant

This is the way headhunting works. You may have heard a lot about recruiting agencies and Β may be familiar with how an agency works. But what is headhunting? Let’s take a look into the plan of action of headhunting.

About Headhunting
What Do Headhunting Agency Do?
How Headhunting is Different From Recruiting?
How Does Headhunting Work?
Types of Headhunting Agencies
Who Are The Clients of Headhunting Agency?
How do They Choose Employee?

Headhunting Tips and Tricks

About Headhunting

Headhunting is the process of finding potential candidate for a specific job profile. It is done mainly by a group or a company or an individual, commonly called headhunters.

What Do Headhunting Agency Do?

They headhunt the perfect candidate for a particular position, that may be an executive post in a company such as CEO or MD. These candidates may be happy with their current position and may not be looking for a job change. But that’s where a headhunter starts his job. They get paid by their clients to hire the most experienced and valuable and coveted candidate.

How Headhunting is Different From Recruiting?

What does a recruitment agency do? They post job offers, receive thousands of resumes for that 1 vacancy they have posted, shortlist the resumes to find the best ones, call for interviews, finalize the ideal candidate for their vacancy. This actually works while looking for employees or workforce who are responsible for the production or providing services that the company offers to the public. While in the case of headhunting, they select candidates without posting offers or letting them know they are Β being hunted. If someone is found apt for a position, they are directly contacted, offered the top positions they are capable of, without adhering to the antiquary.

After successfully headhunting the quintessential, they are directly contacted and offered the job they might have not thought about yet. Headhunters are given the complete authority to find the perfect candidate by their clients.

How Does Headhunting Work?


Head hunters may concentrate on a particular area of interest. They gather the details and connections among that particular area and maintain a good relationship with the clients by constant communication. They attain success by choosing the right candidate for the right position. For that, they have to ,maintain a proper course of action for the hiring process.

They must have the data of most talented professionals in their area of interest or for whom they are working for.

They must have the ability to match the perfect person with the clients requirements.

Matching doesn't mean matching the resume which fulfills clients requirements, they must be proven talents, else which can make a black mark in a headhunters profile. For that, these candidates must go through thorough assessment before letting know about the new opportunity.

Although the whole process is completely different from recruitment, both target in matching the job with the ideal candidate. Headhunters focus on the job and select the ideal one whereas recruiters select the one from a batch of qualified candidates.

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Types of Headhunting Agencies

  • Contingency basis headhunting agency
  • Retained headhunting agency

Both are headhunters with different mode of operation, with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Contingency Headhunting Agency

They focus on completing the work of hiring first and then getting paid. They are cheap compared to retained headhunters, but gives more assurance as they have to get paid for what they do. They are forced to complete the whole process within a time limit to keep up a good position in this field.

They would be completely prepared about the candidates and the job offers they get to be filled. So they will be ready any time to fill the vacancies notified the client companies with the available data in their hands. Presenting the best candidate in front of their clients make them win in this field and they work hard to ensure the same.

Retained Headhunting Agency

Retained headhunters, on the other hand, are paid at first before finishing the hiring process and after the whole process is done, they get complete payment from the clients. They assure more possibilities of getting the ideal person for the vacancy reported.

Both these agencies work on a global basis to stand out from the crowd. Choosing the best available person according to Β their client’s requirement is not a simple task. For that, they have to check globally and pick the perfect one and communicate with them.

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Who Are The Clients of Headhunting Agency?

Their clients are the companies who are in search of exemplary talented professionals for their company. They can't go through a heavy recruitment process for filling the position of a CEO or MD. So they go to the headhunters to get the perfect employee for their firm.

Next is their responsibility to find the best match for the particular job. They are already connected with a large circle of employees and firms based on their experience in this field. So that makes it easier for them to choose the correct one for each assignment.

How do They Choose Employee?

In this contemporary world, everyone is living or working digitally, which makes the job easier for headhunters. Digital life exposes the work, industry, skills, and professional experiences and many more details a headhunter would look for while headhunting the candidates. Direct Communication and giving value to everyone’s time makes one a good headhunter. Choosing a high level employee to a low profile job and an employee to a high job profile are the mistakes headhunters can make if they are not completely prepared about the candidate and the job profile.

Headhunters research about the candidate's profile available or with whom they are connected with and choose the perfect one. Candidates or top level employees who update and showcase their skills are more likely to be shortlisted by the headhunters. Also, active network and good communication skills are add-ons to get captivated by the headhunters.


Thus headhunting is not about hunting fresh or new faces. It's all about selecting the expertise for a top level vacancy and convincing them to join the new company through genuine and clear cut communication.


What does headhunting mean in recruitment?

Headhunting is a specialist recruitment service which attracts candidates with relevant work experience for a particular job profile.

Is a headhunter the same as a recruiter?

Headhunter searches and finds the potential candidate and recruiter is involved in the the hiring process of the candidate.

What does a headhunter do?

Headhunter hunts for candidates to find exclusive or highly skilled candidates for top-level positions.

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