What is a Headhunter and What Does a Headhunter do?


Have you ever wondered why companies are relying so much on headhunters? What does a headhunter do? In the fast-moving tech industry, Headhunters are a blessing in disguise, bridging the long-standing staffing gap of companies.

The challenge of finding the right person for a specific job prevails due to the bumper vacancies, high salary requirements, difficulty in luring passive candidates, etc. The most sought-after way of overcoming this obstacle is by hiring headhunters with a vast talent pool network.

But before jumping right to onboarding headhunters, you must know everything that is there to know about headhunters. Know everything from who headhunters are to how headhunters work. Read on to find out once and for all!

What is Headhunting or Headhunters?

Headhunting is the process of finding the right candidate with the best skill set for a position. The process of headhunting requires an expert team of headhunters and recruiters.

Headhunters are the individuals who execute this hiring process step by step and fill the vacant positions before the prescribed deadline.

The headhunters usually work for a headhunting firm or agency. However, organizations also hire them individually when there is a hiring requirement in a company. 

They are commonly known as headhunter recruiters, but not all headhunting recruiters come under corporate headhunters.

Who are Corporate Headhunters?

Corporate headhunters work the same way as headhunters, but they usually serve the big corporate companies whose urgent hirings are difficult to fill.

Corporate headhunters are also associated with other headhunters in the market to fill the demanding position as early as possible.

What Does a Headhunter Do

It’s a frequently asked question by companies as they wonder, “how do headhunters work.”  The job of a headhunter is more than just finding the right candidate.

The prime focus of the headhunter is filling out head-level positions with the best suitable candidate. Their work requires them to provide bespoke hiring solutions to employers that match well with their requirements.

All headhunters can access industry-specific prospective candidates looking for a job or being employed elsewhere.

The detailed job description of a headhunter is mentioned below!

How Does a Headhunter Work?

The job responsibilities of the headhunter begin with analyzing the demanded role and ends with shortlisting the candidate or simply placing them in the company.

The common work responsibilities of a headhunter are discussed below:

Step 1 – Role Analysis

Role Analysis is an inherent part of the job of a headhunter. A headhunter must be able to grasp the requirements of the employer with every small detail like a contract or permanent hire, the company’s background, culture, policies, and everything.

They must also possess a good knowledge of the job roles in different industries and the specification it beholds. With the right blend of information, a headhunter is able to run an accurate and fair analysis of the job.

Step 2 – Sourcing Prospective Candidates

Once the headhunter has access to all the relevant information, they will begin the next step of finding suitable candidates. This process involves checking out the referrals, running searches, showing up for industry networking events, extracting candidates’ data and private databases, and other methods of luring leads for the role.

Step 3 – Running Screening Tests

The process of screen testing begins once the headhunter has a list of prospective candidates ready to match the requirements. This process is highly personalized considering a lot of factors, from qualifications to skill set.

However, the major factor here is the requirement of the company, on the basis of which the next step takes place.

Step 4 – Outreaching the Shortlisted Candidates

The outreach process is for the candidates who headhunters shortlist after reviewing the company’s requirements. Headhunters make calls and fix appointments with interested candidates and understand the requirements of the candidates.

Step 5 – Compiling Shortlist Data for Clients

After successful screening and background checks, the headhunter finally compiles the shortlist data of the candidates for the company. If specifically asked by the client, headhunters also assist the client in running interviews, negotiations, and onboarding processes wherever possible.

How do Headhunters Get Paid?

Another common question that is associated with the job of a headhunter is “Who pays headhunters”? and “are headhunters free” We all know that companies hire headhunters or headhunters agencies to place candidates for a certain position.

When do Headhunters Get Paid?

Therefore they are the ones who pay the headhunting recruiters for the successful completion of their job. It is important to know that headhunters work on a commission basis, and they are only paid after the successful placement of the candidate.

How much Does a Headhunter Cost?


As a third-party recruiter, headhunters charge 20%-30% of the selected candidate’s total first-year salary. The organization also hires individual headhunters for their company’s hiring instead of agencies.

The fees of a headhunter depend on a certain percentage of the salary of the candidate, but it is imperative to keep in mind that a higher percentage doesn’t mean better service and vice versa.

How to Hire a Headhunter?

The highly competitive job market poses a challenge to businesses looking to find the best talent for their team.

It has become an endless time taking process for organizations to meet their urgent hiring requirements. This is where Headhunters come as a savior for big corporations by giving them the right candidate at the right time.

Should I Hire a Headhunter?

If you are still questioning when to hire a headhunter, then it is suggested to review the goals of the organization and how a headhunter will make a difference to it.

Why Do Companies Hire Headhunters?

The number of companies relying on headhunters or headhunting agencies reflects the upsurging demand for third-party recruiters. Hiring the right headhunting agency requires you to run extensive research, join networking groups, take referrals, check message boards, and be as involved as you can.

There are many headhunting firms leading the industry; all you have to do is reach out to them, and voila, all staffing problems are gone!

What is a Headhunting Firm?

A Headhunting Firm or Agency is a recruitment company that works as a third-party recruiter on behalf of the employee to fill vacant positions.

The headhunting firm operates with a skilled team of headhunters with expertise in various fields, from marketing to IT. These firms are easy to onboard and save an organization tons of money, time, and effort.

What is an Executive Search Firm?

With the significant upward shift in the demand for the headhunting firm, finding the best headhunter company for a comprehensive hiring solution is easier today.

Just like headhunting firms, executive search firms are no different in hiring the best candidates for top-level positions. They are open to hiring for both public and private sectors, utilizing their industry contact to the fullest.

What is the Difference Between a Headhunter and a Recruiter?

When we think of the word headhunter, we instantly match it with that of a recruiter. With many functional similarities, both of them still stand different in many ways.

Here is the tabular differentiation on the ever-rising doubt of headhunters vs recruiter!





Role and Focus

Works for a company or agency to fill open positions

Work independently or for an agency to find top talent

Search Scope

Focuses on filling specific roles for a company

Focuses on finding passive candidates or top talent

Client Relationship

Represent the employer and their brand

Represents the candidate, and their interests


Paid by the employer or agency for their services

Paid by the candidate, employer or receives a % fee


Uses various sourcing methods to attract candidates

Approaches candidates directly or via referrals


Works on multiple roles simultaneously

Focuses on filling one or few key positions at a time

Key Takeaways

Headhunters are no foreign term when you are extensively looking out for people to take over your hiring process.

Headhunters are third-party recruitment experts that work on a commission basis to help the organization with their hiring. They either work for a headhunting agency or for a company to render comprehensive and seamless hiring solutions.

Not only do they save time and money for the business, but they also assist them in fulfilling their organizational goals.

Employers generally get confused between headhunters and recruiters. However, both are different and are hired by the organization to serve different purposes.

There is no denying the fact that headhunters are the best way to build a skilled and professional team that otherwise would have been a tough nut to crack.

Share this artiicle
Connect With Us
I am Candidate
I am Employer
Related Post
Skip to content