Headhunter Help: What’s the Difference Between a Headhunter and a Recruiter?


The task of finding and hiring an employee that is a perfect fit for a role is a tricky one. Recruitment is neither a science nor an art. But it is a process that requires certain skills, know-how, and industry experience.

Throughout the recruitment process, there are a number of different people a company or a potential candidate may come into contact with. A recruiter and a head hunter are two of them. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but in fact, they are two different roles with distinct differences.

If you’re looking for a job—or looking to make a hire—it’s worth familiarizing yourself with how these two positions differ, and which one may be able to serve your needs best. Read for a simple guide on the differences between a recruiter and a headhunter.

Recruiter vs Headhunter: What’s the Difference?

It’s true that headhunters and recruiters do occupy similar positions, and carry out similar tasks. So, why then is it not technically correct to use these terms interchangeably? To make matters more complicated: it is somewhat accurate to say that all headhunters are recruiters, but not all recruiters are headhunters.

A headhunter is a specific niche of the recruitment profession. It is often an external person that is brought in by a company that needs to fill a position with some level of urgency. They would focus on sourcing candidates, but not on the actual hiring or onboarding stages.

Often, but not always, a headhunter will be specialized in a particular field. Finding, for example, high-level and niche candidates.

On the other hand, “recruiter” is a broader term that can refer to a person performing a number of different functions. A recruiter often works in-house in an organization, although they may also be brought in externally by a company. A person with the job title of recruiter will often be responsible for the entire recruitment experience for all candidates—from sourcing to preliminary interviews.

When Do You Need a Headhunter?

So, how will you know whether you are looking for a headhunter or a recruiter? Generally speaking, headhunters specialize in a certain field and focus on candidates occupying high-level positions. If you need to fill a higher-up, niche position fast, then a headhunter is a good option.

For most other types of hires, a recruitment agency or in-house recruiter would most likely handle things. If you’re unsure of which to go with, you can always speak with different agencies and check out your options.

Hire a Headhunter Today

If you think you may be in need of a headhunter, you are probably in luck. Although this is an in-demand skill set, there is an abundance of headhunters working in a number of different fields, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to help you with what you need. If you’ve found this guide useful, don’t forget to peruse the rest of our articles.

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