What is Headhunting and How Does it Work?

Considering the number of vacancies posted by companies, it can be difficult for them to lure the most talented candidates while advertising the job. However, the headhunting process helps organizations expand their search to target the top talent in their sector. Companies utilize headhunting to attract potential candidates that may not apply for the role otherwise. 

Often, headhunting is mistaken for recruitment or a part of an in-house hiring team, although headhunters are skilled recruiters and specialists who are not associated with the hiring company. 

Their responsibilities are mostly specialized and on an executive level. Moreover, these positions are not promoted or advertised via recruitment channels. A headhunter will thoroughly research to target the prospective individuals and shortlist them to pick the best. This guide will further discuss how headhunting works. 

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Responsibilities of a Headhunter 

Executive roles are extremely sensitive and crucial to appear on recruitment pages or job sites. So this position will need a specialist to identify and persuade some of the strongest players in the industry. 

When a headhunter approaches a candidate, they may be unaware of the opening being offered. Once you enter the list of potential candidates, it means you’ve got the required skills and qualities. Considering this kind of appointment’s urgency, you may change your job sooner than expected. 

A headhunter will primarily focus on filling high-end roles, which means they have tight schedules to keep up with. They work devotedly while sifting through several resumes within seconds. This helps determine who is and isn’t suitable for the given role and whether they’ve got the skills and experience to be a part of the client’s company. 

To win the top-end team players, headhunters deliver excellent people skills and use high levels of persuasion. They make each role as attractive as possible, making it difficult to turn down. Headhunters offer a more specific search than a traditional in-house recruiter or a recruitment agency. 

The Process of Headhunting 

Role Analysis

To determine what’s expected of the shortlisted candidates, a headhunter must understand the hiring company’s requirements. This includes understanding the role and fine details of the company, its culture, the contract, and confidential information and arrangements. Only by understanding the company’s needs can they seek out and attract the most suitable candidates for the role. 

Sourcing Potential Candidates 

Once the headhunters have the relevant information about the job role, the next step is to find prime candidates. This involves searching for referrals and professionals holding similar or the same roles in the industry, social media, networking industry events, and meeting with executive contacts. 

Screening Candidates 

Once they create an extensive list of candidates, headhunters will narrow down their search in terms of qualification to get the right match. During this step, they will determine whether a candidate is suitable for the job based on their experience, education, and other details given in the resume. Candidate screening helps headhunters decide whether to reject the application or proceed to the next step of hiring.  


With a target list narrowed down, headhunters make the necessary calls and schedule appointments to inform and develop an interest in individuals having the most potential. For instance, they may step up a meeting personal introduction with the hiring managers and proceed with the interview process. 

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Client Shortlist 

Following background checks and interviews, a headhunter will create a shortlist comprising the top candidates for the client. This step also involves organizing client interviews negotiations and assisting with the onboarding process wherever necessary. After the internal interview process is completed and the best candidate is chosen, the headhunter will make an offer. The company can also directly make the offer to the newly hired candidate. 

What to Look for in a Headhunter 

The quality of a headhunter can vary. A good headhunter will always contact candidates ahead of time to ensure they’re suitable for the role depending on their experience and skills. If a headhunter asks about the current or past salary, consider this a red flag. Instead, they should put forward the salary being offered and ask them whether they agree to it. It’s easy to reach out to and communicate with qualified headhunters. 

An unprepared headhunter won’t have done the necessary research on the candidate’s background. And, if they talk first, make many demands, neglect messages, and are hard to reach, consider this a negative sign.  

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Companies looking to hire potential employees for different job roles can reach out to the professional business consultant, Eyal I Dulin. He runs his own business consulting company based in South Africa and provides businesses with reliable solutions to ensure successful operations. He also helps them hire talented candidates by using a variety of processes such as headhunting. Al Dulin specializes in employee training to ensure business compliance with Federal and State Laws. For details, contact Al Dulin here.   

About the Author 

The author is a hiring manager at a firm based in the United States that has been associated with Eyal Dulin‘s business consultancy for a decade. He acknowledges their employee training and business marketing techniques. The company has enjoyed various successful business outcomes with Al-Dulin’s assistance.