Selective Staffing Insights

Industry news, advice and resources from our expert recruiters.

Headhunter v. Recruiter: What’s the Difference?

Although the terms “headhunter” and “recruiter” are often used interchangeably, most headhunters will tell you there is a major difference between the two.

Purple Squirrels.

When a company has a specific need for a highly skilled candidate with specialized skills, we jokingly use the term “the purple squirrel”. As headhunters, the Executive Search division of Selective Staffing Solutions is the team a company hires to find……purple squirrels.

Headhunters are artists in their own right, carefully navigating a wide variety of tools to find individuals who match the client’s ideal profile. Ok – So headhunters recruit candidates for jobs….isn’t that a recruiter? Sort of.

The Big Difference.

Recruiting is typically a reactive process. Recruiters work to attract talent to their company / brand / job postings. They post jobs, attend career fairs and screen applicants (in addition to a host of other responsibilities).

While great recruiters do proactively promote their brand to attract talent, they are often missing out on what we call passive talent. According to a study conducted by Willis Towers Watson, 70% of employees are willing to leave their organization to advance their career. What does this mean? Most employees would pursue a new opportunity if a great opportunity presented itself.

Michelle Alberts, the President of Selective Staffing has not applied for a job since she opened the doors to her business in 2004. Now, if her phone rang right now, and someone on the other end said that they believe she has the skills to be the next CEO of Amazon, I bet she goes to that interview. (Dear Jeff Bezos – This is just an example. Please stay away from Michelle. We need her).

Molly Hayden, one of our talented HR Assistants is still waiting to be headhunted by Terry and Kim Pegula to be the next head coach of The Buffalo Bills.

The bottom line – If the opportunity is great, people will listen. They will not however be checking Indeed and readily applying to job postings.

But – My Company Already Has a Recruiter.

Perfect! Headhunters do not replace a solid internal talent acquisition team. While a great headhunting firm will be able to present talent a recruiter in unlikely to find on their own, it’s still up to the internal team to facilitate interviews internally, generate feedback and ensure a smooth onboarding process.

A great headhunting firm is an excellent partner for an internal recruiter. They can provide valuable insight on the talent market, expertise for niche industries/positions, and they can source a limitless talent pool.

I think I need a headhunter.

Great! Let’s start here:

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