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What is a Headhunter, and When Should You Engage One?

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In this blog, the newest addition to the We Are Adam team, Kyrie Dale, reflects on her Recruitment career, and the differences between a Headhunter and a Recruitment Consultant. She also explores the questions that you should be asking yourself and any Recruiter or Headhunter that you wish to engage.


Today, I had some interesting meetings and conversations with past clients that got me reflecting on my previous role and my skillset now.

In my previous role, I called myself a Headhunter. Did I have the skills and knowledge of a headhunter? Yes! Did I headhunt for every role I have generated? Honestly? NO.

There is nothing wrong with the process I followed during my career, and I’ve been very successful over the years. However, there is a difference between the two, and the realisation left me feeling (only for a moment) like an imposter.

Now the purpose of this confession is not to “bad mouth” recruitment consultants or how they work. There is absolutely no shame in being a Recruitment Consultant as opposed to a Headhunter! The process, when done properly, is lengthy and a lot of work goes into finding the right candidate for a role.

There are great recruiters out there and I have had the pleasure to work alongside and learn from some of the best (in my humble opinion). The purpose of this confession is to highlight the differences between Headhunting and Recruiting, and to share my top tips when selecting the right consultant to work on your role.

Firstly, and I’m sure we can all agree on my next statement - most of the BEST candidates for your role are NOT on the job boards. They are happy in their current role (probably working for a competitor) and blissfully unaware of the opportunities available to them.

If you are only seeing the “active market” you are not making an informed decision!

Headhunters perform extensive desktop research into each business in order to fully map out the market and identify the key players in each business, building a list of potential high calibre candidates who might fulfil your criteria. We delve into our own existing networks of high calibre candidates who have the relevant background expertise and sector experience, and then collate a comprehensive list of candidates to target.

Each target candidate will undergo a comprehensive and in-depth interview, and we will outline the business proposition, vision and outline current opportunity and scope for development. We produce a shortlist of scenario- or competency-based interviewed, highly-screened candidates who are interested in the opportunity, and possess the requisite skills and cultural fit.

Finally, we submit the shortlists with relevant background information, interview notes and - most importantly - a comprehensive breakdown of their current renumeration, package, and financial expectations should they be successful with their application.

Throughout the process, Headhunters provide regular updates, statistics and analytics.

“If you buy cheap, you buy twice”

You have likely heard this line before. But think of it this way - employers spend tens of thousands, sometimes even millions, on their Employee Value Proposition to attract and retain good employees. Therefore, it is also important to invest in the recruitment process to ensure that you are attracting and hiring the BEST candidate for the role.

How do you pick which consultant to work with, I hear you ask?

Here are my Top 10 Tips that will help give you confidence when choosing a consultant to work on your opportunity. This is the information you need and the questions you should be asking before partnering with a consultant.

  • How interested and invested are they in your business? A consultant should know your business inside and out. Have they taken the time to get to know you, your team, and your business? How can they represent your business if they don’t know your business?

  • What resources do they use to recruit? This is an important point to consider. Are they just advertising your role on job boards, or are they using their own database, searching on job boards or headhunting via LinkedIn? How do they source?

  • Are they targeting your competitors?

  • Will they provide regular updates and analytics? This could include lists of who they have contacted and where they are up to with each candidate.

  • Is your relationship a partnership or a “means to an end”? There should be transparency from both sides, a relationship built on trust and honesty.

  • Ask for references and take the time to speak to them.

  • Question your recruiter on their fill ratio (jobs on VS. jobs filled). Everyone will know their fill ratio, and if they don’t then it’s a bit of a red flag in my opinion!

  • Are they a specialist in recruiting for that particular role? You wouldn’t hire a carpenter to fit your boiler…

  • Are they telling you what you want to hear? If they aren’t challenging you, they won’t challenge your candidates.

  • Ask about other assignments they are working on. Are you one in a long list? What is their motivation to get the job done?


If you want to know more about our headhunting process and how it can add value to your hiring process pick up the phone and give us a call. Our consultants will be happy to help!

Kyrie specialises in recruiting for Marketing roles of all levels, from Marketing Exec right up to C-Suite roles. If you want to chat to her about a role you require support with, or if you’d like to register with her as a candidate, pop her an email to

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Photo by Shridhar Guptaon Unsplash