Eric Kean of Lee Group Search

There are many terms out there for people involved in hiring. The Lee Group Search team, for instance, is made up of executive search consultants who share the same goal – finding the best candidate for the job.

But, what is the difference between a headhunter and a recruiter, or an executive search consultant, as we call them here?

Truly – not a whole lot.

Both headhunters and recruiters play a vital role in conducting the search and hiring process of behalf of companies, but there are a few subtleties between the two.

First, let’s look at the etymology of both words.

The origin of the word “headhunter” is kind of savage – literally – so, some people may draw a negative connotation right off the bat. But, like many English words, its meaning has changed over time. Now, most people associate the word headhunter with someone who seeks out candidates for a specific role at a company.

The word recruiter can be traced back to the Latin crescere, “to grow” and is used more universally. Recruiters sign people up and get them interested in things like jobs, the military, athletics, colleges, etc.


More on Headhunters

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

Headhunters are all about the hunt – pun intended – and more likely to go so far as to contact a candidate who is currently employed at another company.

It’s about being aggressive and finding the right people for the right job. Hunting for them – by phone, through LinkedIn, through relationships.

As a general rule, headhunters are from agencies, vs in house team members, and often work for several companies at a time. They are hired by companies looking for high-quality talent, and it’s not uncommon for headhunters to specialize in a field, such as industrial, tech or marketing.

When a headhunter at most firms find 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.

SIDE NOTE: When the search team at Lee Group Search finds a qualified candidate, they do introduce them to the company hiring, but they also consult throughout the entire interview and hiring process. Just a little something-something that makes Lee Group Search a little different from the rest.


More on Recruiters

While headhunters are responsible for locating qualified candidates, recruiters are largely responsible for filling positions. Recruiters are generally employed by the company that is advertising the open positions, but not always. Many companies hire staffing agencies filled with recruiters to help them hire – much like many companies do with our sister firm, The Lee Group.

Unlike headhunters, 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 in human resource departments and work on filling multiple positions at once.


The Best Option?

Lee Group Search encompasses the qualities of both headhunters and recruiters as executive search consultants. It’s about connecting with clients and candidates, providing consultation and counseling and making a match that’s set up for the long term. Learn more about the process here.

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