Headhunting is deployed by recruiters or individuals to fill up vacancies in various companies. They start searching by first developing a clear understanding of the required candidate’s profile, while also keeping in mind the culture and strategy of the concerned company. A good head-hunter will be sensitive to the requirements of both the candidate and the company while producing results. These consultancies are client driven to find ‘people for jobs’, not ‘jobs for people’. The exclusive use of search works quite effectively for recruiting of higher-level professionals. Sometimes, the head-hunter or recruiter may make use of a mixed method, including a search as well as a high profile, targeted advertising campaign.

Recruiters are unique in the way that they do not need specific degrees or licenses to get started. Most of the recruiters operate on a contingency basis which involves the recruiter competing against other recruiters or agencies to find the same candidates. Sometimes, the hiring company has the freedom to carry their own search on the side, by posting job ads. It is a winner-takes-all environment. The second type of recruiting is referred to as a retained executive search also known as head-hunting. In this scenario, the head-hunter is the only one looking for the suitable candidate. This form or recruiting is more exclusive.

Head-hunters have four key advantages over HR that make them attractive to hiring managers: they search other companies for candidates, they specialize in narrow segments of the labour market, they produce candidates quickly, and they provide such service unhampered by other organizational loyalties or interests.

Head-hunters provide economic benefits to hiring managers by locating good candidates, including those who may not necessarily be searching for new jobs. Political advantages arise when head-hunters help managers gain control over hiring while simultaneously helping them tackle any problems from their own HR department or those which arise when they recruit from their clients or competitors. Head-hunters are also the best at finding candidates in particularly niche markets in which they specialize. With the time, effort and resources they spend in looking for candidates, they are more likely to find any supposed hidden candidates than anyone from the company (like HR Department) could. Additionally, head-hunters strengthen the power of hiring managers by granting them more control over the hiring decision. This is possible since head-hunters operate outside the organizational hierarchy and are loyal to hiring managers. Hiring managers have a big reason to make use of head-hunters as head-hunters will actually support their hiring needs instead of threatening them.

For candidates, deciding to partner up with recruiters or head-hunters could be an important decision affecting their career in the long run.