The Real Job Description of a Headhunter


A headhunter can be thought of as a matchmaker for professionals and companies. Perhaps the biggest advantage of working with one is that they eliminate the need to post job advertisements and cut through hordes of applicants to find the best one. A good headhunter will also have a deep understanding of an organization’s business and culture to find the right fit.

While headhunters may understand that they help their clients build a skilled workforce, a common misconception lies in how to go about it. Many fail to understand that what distinguishes them from other recruiters is a proactive approach to recruiting. While recruiters focus on engaging those candidates that are actively looking for a job, headhunters must reach out to ‘passive’ job seekers too. Moreover, unlike in-house recruiters, headhunters may work for multiple clients simultaneously and typically aren’t involved in recruitment beyond locating the right candidate.

 Key challenges headhunters face

In recent years, the headhunting industry has faced significant challenges and as such, must evolve to stay relevant. With candidates and companies using social media platforms like LinkedIn, especially for mid-level hiring, it’s posing a threat to headhunters.

Often, headhunters work on behalf of agencies companies outsource recruitment to. The open positions they have to fill are often urgent, and organizations don’t pay unless a vacancy is filled. Upon reaching out to candidates, they may find they just don’t have specific details about a role that a candidate may want to know. As a mentor to candidates, headhunters must also guide business leaders who are making critical career decisions.

How headhunters can step their game up

To recruit the best possible candidates, headhunters must possess knowledge, tactics, and skills. They need to manage expectations, be detail-oriented, and conduct a methodical and exhaustive search to find the best talent. They have to thoroughly analyse the job market and verify candidate qualifications and background information. To do all of this, they must possess solid sales skills to really sell their proposition. In reality, here are the actual responsibilities of a headhunter.

Saving time

Headhunters must get the job done faster and more efficiently than in-house recruiters. However, they must emphasise on both speed and quality to find someone who’s the right fit for a position, ultimately saving time for their clients.

Increasing employee retention

Talented headhunters must work to increase employee retention. How can they do this? By choosing the most suitable candidates for a job that will ultimately result in a higher level of job satisfaction. The happier an employee at work, the better their chances of sticking around and being productive.

Passive recruiting

Headhunters must not fear reaching out to ‘passive’ candidates i.e. those not looking for a job. They can do this by reaching out to candidates on their database, leveraging their network, and reaching out to them on social media. Headhunters have to do so to attract high-calibre candidates, especially when there is a dearth of quality talent. Agencies like Randstad India offer such services, identifying talented professionals across a variety of industries.


A good headhunter must get out and network – attend industry events, conferences, seminars, etc. They must display a real interest in people, meet with them over lunch, and set appointments to discuss opportunities.

Leave a Response