What Is a Headhunter and What Do They Do?

what does a headhunter do

What is a headhunter

If you’re searching for a job, you may have encountered the term “headhunter” before. While this may sound a bit violent, it’s not.

To understand what a headhunter is, what they do, and why they might be your new best friend, read the information below.

Questions Answered:

  • What is a headhunter?
  • Other names for headhunters
  • Is it a good thing if a headhunter contacts me?
  • How do headhunters make money?

What Is a Headhunter?

A headhunter is a company employee or freelancer that works with the HR department or talent acquisition team to properly fill open jobs with quality applicants. They are often referred to as recruiters.

Large companies often have a retained recruiter or headhunter on payroll within their HR department. They actively maintain the applicant pool, whether there’s currently an open position or not. 

Some headhunters work for themselves, so they are hired directly by a company looking to fill a vacant position. These headhunters often work as independent contractors and may be hunting for multiple companies at once. 

Many businesses will also look to utilize a recruiting agency to fill their open positions. When this takes place, a headhunter (recruiter) will be assigned to them.

“50% of candidates say they would not work for a company with a bad reputation, even if the pay increase were substantial.”

— Harvard Business Review

Other Names For Headhunters

Headhunters can operate under many pseudonyms. If you hear any of the below titles, they are other names used to refer to headhunters.

  • Recruiter
  • Executive Recruiter
  • Corporate Recruiter
  • Internal Recruiter
  • Talent Agent
  • Talent Scout
  • Talent Spotter
  • Talent Acquisition Expert
  • Career Development Strategist
  • Career Consultant
  • Career Counselor
  • Career Advisor
  • Personnel Agent
  • Placement Consultant
  • Candidate Attraction Specialist
  • Sourcing Consultant
  • Sourcing Specialist
  • Sourcing Advisor
  • Workforce Specialist


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Is it a good thing if a headhunter contacts me?

If a headhunter contacts you, it means something on your resume or job profile made them think you would be a suitable candidate for an open position. 

When a headhunter contacts you, they’ll likely try to gauge your interest and experience then set up an interview with the company to fill the position. 


How do headhunters make money?

Company headhunters are typically on the payroll.

Those who work for a staffing agency, recruitment agency, or headhunting agency can be paid regularly or work off commission.

And self-employed headhunters typically work solely off commission, meaning they don’t get paid until they find a suitable candidate to fill the job position. 

Wrapping Up | What is a Headhunter

Finding a quality recruiter/headhunter is a great way to match qualified applicants with open positions.

They can save both candidates and organizations time by streamlining the process and reducing the need for all that leg work on both ends.

If you’re an employer looking to kick your talent acquisition process into gear or a candidate looking for your next great career opportunity, reach out to a headhunter.

We hope this helps and best of luck in your job search!


Title: What is a headhunter?

Category: Career Resources

Tags: what is a headhunter, what does a headhunter do, what are other names for headhunter, is a headhunter the same as a recruiter

Co-Author: Becky is a contributor for theJub. She’s a writing and talent acquisition specialist who loves to apply her skills through creative writing and editing.

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