A headhunter is a job recruiter who specializes in matching highly skilled professionals with corporate clients. He or she might be an independent contractor or work through an agency where each agent specializes in particular areas of employment and possibly also in geographic areas.
Corporations benefit from using a headhunter or a headhunting service in two ways. It eliminates the need to place an advertisement for the open position and then address the inevitable list of applicants, most of which will be unfit for various reasons. A headhunter does the tedious work of finding good candidates, providing an initial screening mechanism that saves the corporation valuable time. In turn, the recruiter is paid a fee if he or she is able to find the right candidate, typically a small percentage of the annual starting salary of the filled position.
This payment arrangement encourages headhunters to build lasting, tight relationships with corporate clients. The more successful someone is in filling recruitment positions, the more likely the client company will look to him or her for other job placement opportunities. Both parties benefit mutually from this relationship, as do those seeking gainful employment.
While half of the headhunter’s job is working for corporate clients, the other half consists of working for those seeking employment. Anyone can call a headhunting service to be considered for job opportunities. Typically, a resume is submitted to the service, and this is followed by a verbal interview, either in person or over the phone. The recruiter gets a feel for the personality, skills, and needs of the recruit. This will include factors like willingness to travel, to relocate or to work extended hours.
In some cases, the fee is paid by the hired recruit rather than the company. People who are considering working with a headhunter to find employment should be sure to clarify who will pay for the service.
Headhunters can present a person with employment opportunities that he or she would otherwise miss. Those who have established, trusting relationships with their corporate clients also act as a positive boon for the applicant. A good word from a trusted recruiter can make a difference in the attitude of the interviewer towards the candidate, warming an otherwise "cold" initial interview.