6 ways recruiters and headhunters are different

  • finding jobs
  • August 26, 2016

What’s the difference between a recruiting firm and a headhunter?

Sometimes it depends on who you ask – there is a good bit of confusion about how they are different. Here are some general thoughts on the differences – but keep in mind that there are exceptions to the rule.

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 is usually engaged in filling a specific slot for an employer. If the candidate doesn’t get that job the headhunter might have nothing 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, or in the case of Randstad Technologies, a global 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. They are more inclined to have insight into an organization’s culture and a more accurate picture of whether a candidate is a good fit for that client.

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.

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