Recruiters vs. headhunters: What's the difference? There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and we're here to clear them up, because there are considerable differences in how recruiters work compared to headhunters.

what's a recruiter, what's a headhunter — and what's the difference between them?

The answer often depends on who you ask. But here are six insights that might help clarify the difference between these two hiring pros. Bear in mind, of course, that there are always going to be exceptions to the following rules.

available positions

Recruiting firms often have alternative positions that might fit a candidate's skills and goals — sometimes with the same employer, sometimes with another client. A headhunter, on the other hand, is usually engaged in order to fill a specific slot for an employer. If the candidate doesn't get that job, the headhunter might not have anything else to offer them.

compensation for services

Both recruiting firms and headhunters are compensated by the hiring company. In some instances, a headhunter will charge the candidate a fee for a placement.

range of influence

A recruiting firm is more likely to have a nationwide footprint. For some candidates, this is an attractive capability.

salary information

Some recruiting firms have proprietary research or salary information that is a valuable asset to the candidate during salary negotiations.

client relationship

A recruiting firm is likely to have multi-faceted, long-term relationships with the clients for whom they work.

magnifying glass

recruiting firms are also much more likely to have insights into an organization's culture — which means they have a more accurate picture of whether or not a given candidate will be a good fit.

career services

Recruiting firms can generally offer more services and options to candidates. This includes not only coaching in writing resumes and interviewing techniques but also work options that include full-time employment along with contracting and temporary assignments.

Finally, it's always a good idea to ask your recruiter or headhunter about the range of services they offer. Not sure how to go about doing that? We've got some strategic advice to help you out.

key takeaways

Now that you understand the difference between how a recruiter works, and how a headhunter works, why not take action? Find out the moment opportunities become available by signing up for Randstad's job alerts. Just tell us the kind of position you want, and we'll email you when we find it.