Headhunter vs Recruiter – What’s the Difference?

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Headhunting vs. Recruitment

While analyzing the success of an organization, most people focus on the financials, unknowingly turning a blind eye toward the employees that work hard to support them. For companies that have plans to grow rapidly, it is quite important to understand several facets of recruitment and invest in a pool of professionals in a strategic manner. A common misconception that prevails amongst businesses is that headhunting and recruitment mean the same thing. This can possibly be the reason why you might have heard people using these two terms interchangeably. 

Although both the terms are related to hiring the right people for a company, there are distinct differences between the two. The primary difference between recruitment and headhunting is that recruiters pull candidates from a list of active job seekers while headhunters pursue professionals with the experience and qualifications required for a particular job position. When considering working with a staffing agency, it is crucial for you to understand these differences.

Headhunters vs recruiters also differ in their approach to sourcing candidates, with headhunters often relying on personal networks and industry knowledge to identify the best candidates, while recruiters may use a wider range of advertising methods.

Let’s find out more about each of these methods of hiring people to benefit your organization in the long term.

What is Headhunting?

Consider the following example to understand the headhunter vs. recruiter comparison better –

Mr. Vahid is the CEO of XXX company in the field of technology. Before he joined this company, he was already serving as the CEO of YYY company in the same field. In his case, Mr. Vahid was headhunted by XXX’s team, including CHRO and the top management as he has already earned a good reputation and has the desired experience as well. 

In simpler terms, headhunting refers to the process of scouting professionals for top management positions in an organization. It aims at finding highly-skilled candidates for top-level positions exclusively. 

In general, the headhunter’s recruitment process is led by the board of directors, executive members, and Head of HR in a company. The team members are proactively looking for professionals matching their preferences irrespective of whether the target individual is looking for a job change or not. 

Best Practices for Headhunting

Now that you know what headhunting is, let’s talk about how to do it. Here are five best practices for headhunting:

  • Research potential candidates

While hiring a senior professional for your organization, you need to keep in mind that a prospective individual will outrank most of the existing employees. Hence, it is important to perform research and background verification to double-check his/her credibility. An ideal prospect is one that has significant experience in the field and has delivered groundbreaking results for companies he/she has worked for.

  • Consider your company’s visibility and reputation

A big player is most likely to join a company that has at least the same visibility in the market as the organizations they have worked for. To increase the chances of headhunting success, you need to invest time and resources to develop an employer brand and target the right candidates through different mediums.

  • Avoid being pushy when headhunting

While approaching a potential candidate, you need to keep in mind that you do not just pitch the employment perks, but also your company’s culture. Hence, it makes sense to avoid being too pushy and unwilling to accept “No” as an answer which indirectly indicates a high-pressure work environment.

  • Continue with gentle follow-ups

At some point, headhunting may seem similar to sales as you are most likely to hear “No” more than a “Yes” from a candidate. Many people want to stay in their current job positions and handle the related responsibility to ensure career stability. Similar to not being pushy, you need not overdo following up. Instead, build a professional relationship with the candidates and talk about the work culture.

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin, which is recruitment.

What is recruitment?

Recruitment can be best defined as the process of sourcing/finding the right candidates from a pool of individuals seeking jobs. It is primarily meant to fulfill various open job positions in a company with qualified, right-fit candidates. If you have ever witnessed or heard of mass hiring opportunities, you would have heard the term “recruitment drives,” not “head-hunting drives” because of the related process.

Recruitment involves sourcing, screening, interviewing, and then finally selecting candidates. It is not a one-person activity and involves a team of recruiters and hiring managers working together to build the workforce.

As mentioned above, recruitment refers to filling up lower ranks other than the top executive roles. The hiring or recruitment team also acts as a point of contact for job seekers, hence serving both parties as a part of their KRAs.

Best Practices for Recruitment

The following sections cover a few ways to optimize your recruitment process for the better:

  • Take less time

As per LinkedIn, only around 30% of organizations can fill a vacant role in a month. Job seekers tend to lose interest if the process takes too long. Hence, you should work on optimizing the recruitment process by wrapping up things as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of the hire. 

For example, you can carry out pre-interview candidate screening to check whether the skills of a candidate are in line with what is desired before scheduling longer interviews.

  • Avoid settling for a less-than-perfect fit

When candidates with a large deviation from the desired skills are shortlisted, it not only leads to a delay in filling the positions but also increases attrition. Most employees would leave their jobs during the probation period if the profile does not meet the expectations as conveyed by the recruiting team. Hence, you need to ensure you do in-depth research and involve all the concerned departments in the hiring process to avoid hiring poor fits.

  • Build your employer brand

As an employer, you cannot attract the best talent to work for your organization only on the basis of compensation and perks. These days, job seekers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, look at the quality of the job and workplace culture more than a paycheck. Therefore, you need to work on building an employer brand that denotes the company’s culture, and employee engagement metrics, along with perks and benefits.

Differences Between Hiring a Recruiter and a Headhunter

Let’s look more at what you can expect working with a headhunter vs. a  recruiter. 

  • Range of Job Roles

Typically, a headhunter is more focused on a limited set of job roles. These are mostly top management or board member roles. On the other hand, recruiters are responsible for the lower tiers of hiring – entry-level, mid-manager, or manager roles. 

  • State of the Job

A headhunter’s role is often limited to filling specific positions. For example, if you want to hire an individual for the role of marketing head, the CEO, CTO, and board members might be present in the hiring process. Once the position is filled, the role of a headhunter gets dissolved. But recruiters are hired to maintain the overall hiring process in a company, from job postings, and interviews, to onboarding.

  • Skills in Demand

Recruiters, while dealing with entry or mid-level candidates, look for a diverse array of skill sets. They usually scan hundreds of job applicants to find the one who is a jack of all trades and can be shifted across departments if needed. 

In the case of headhunting, the hiring team does not look for candidates having a wide range of skills but a master of their particular field.

  • Network

Most recruiters tend to have a larger network as compared to headhunting teams as they need to fill in a large number of positions. On the other hand, head hunters have a smaller network that is specific to their domain or area of expertise.

Ultimately, the choice between headhunter vs recruiter depends on the specific needs and goals of your business and the types of candidates you are looking to hire.

Role of a Hiring Expert

When you are involved in various operational and growth-related tasks at work, teaming up with a hiring expert or agency allows you to fill positions faster with greater success. A hiring agency will perform recruitment for your organization and deploy necessary resources to manage the entire process – from candidate selection to onboarding. You can get even better results by hiring a staffing agency that has a level of expertise in your field.

Benefit from Connect Tech+Talent Expertise to Support Your Recruitment Process

Irrespective of your industry, you must understand the difference between headhunting and recruitment and then identify ways to optimize your use of both. Connect Tech+Talent – an Austin-based staffing agency can help you with both headhunting and recruiting for technical roles. Call Connect Tech+Talent hiring experts today at 512-338-1111 to discuss your requirements. 

How can Connect Tech+Talent Help?

Connect Tech+Talent is in the business of finding the right talent for companies. Connect Tech+Talent takes the overbearing burden of finding human resources with the right skill set and lets companies focus on their core business. We specialise in IT jobs, helping businesses build and ramp up their technical staffing. We help build entire teams with the right set of skills in the technology that best suits their business.

We at Connect Tech+Talent will also help you as a candidate to acquire most sought after technical skills and forward your candidature to leading enterprises with global reach.

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