The Difference Between Headhunting and Recruiting

Crawford Thomas Recruiting Blog

While the terms are often used interchangeably, headhunting and recruiting aren’t exactly the same thing. In order to fully understand the places of headhunters and recruiters, it’s important to first understand the different roles they play in the job market. Here’s what you need to know:

Headhunting 101

Headhunters are people who are hired by a company or corporation to find, vet, and introduce suitable candidates for a job position. The headhunter’s job is to ensure the candidate has the correct skill set for a position and they’re often hired to find prospects that possess a unique or hard-to-find skillset.

As a general rule, headhunters are independent contractors or employees of a recruiting agency. They are hired and commissioned by a company looking for high-quality talent and often work for several companies at a given time. It’s not uncommon for headhunters to specialize in a field, such as tech or marketing. This allows them to sift through resumes to locate the best possible candidate for a job quicker and more efficiently.

When a headhunter finds a qualified candidate, he or she passes the candidate’s resume along to the company who then decides whether to interview and hire the candidate. Headhunters do not do any hiring on their own, it’s not uncommon for them to take a proactive role when it come to locating candidates, even going so far as to contact a candidate who is currently employed at another company.

Recruiting 101

While headhunters are responsible for locating qualified candidates, recruiters are responsible for filling positions. Recruiters are people whoa re generally employed by the company that is advertising the open positions, although they can also be third-party individuals with no affiliation to the company in question.

In order to fill the open positions within a company, recruiters pre-screen candidates and facilitate the interview process. They are often also the point of contact for candidates inquiring about a job position. While some recruiters may take a proactive role in seeking out candidates, much like a headhunter would, it’s much more common for them to post job openings and allow qualified candidates to reach out to them first. Recruiters often work to fill multiple positions at once and may help shuffle candidates who aren’t qualified for one position over into applying for another. Additionally, recruiters often work in human resource departments or have various human resource-based roles. Most commonly, recruiters work to fill all job positions, although they may specialize into certain industries on occasion.


While recruiters and headhunters both play an important role in filling open job listings, they don’t ultimately perform the same job. While headhunters reach out to candidates directly, recruiters work on placing qualified candidates in the correct job positions once the candidate submits an application. In this way, recruiters and headhunters often work together to find the most qualified candidates for a given job position. To learn more about recruiting and headhunting, contact Crawford Thomas today!

Crawford Thomas RecruitingThe Difference Between Headhunting and Recruiting