Do We Really Need a Headhunter to Find High-end Talents?

Do We Really Need a Headhunter to Find High-end Talents?

There may not be a role for a headhunter in hiring staff. But when it comes to C-suite recruitment, it can be so demanding and challenging.

According to Forbes, executive recruitment was a 20-80% rule; 20% of available candidates were A+ players, and 80% were not top talents. But now, a significant shift in the industry transforms the rule into 93-7%.

To fill an open high-level position, we need a specialist to identify and convince the best players to switch companies and join our teams.

What Is a Headhunter?

We often use human resources staff to find and recruit people. However, we need to utilize recruitment agencies to fill specific positions or find people with high-level skills. Third parties who work for a hiring firm to find those talents are called headhunters.

A headhunter is a specialized and qualified recruiter who works independently of the recruitment firm. It is not only a matter of finding high-quality candidates for high-level positions but also identifying potential candidates, evaluating their skills and competencies, and recommending them to the client.

Since they actively seek candidates outside of an organization, headhunting often uses social media and other online tools to find qualified candidates. In some cases, head hunting also uses personal connections and references from current or former clients.

So what is headhunting in recruitment? What makes both of them so different?


  • The process is more focused, targeted, and proactive.
  • Headhunters typically work with specific businesses to find, approach and recruit highly qualified candidates for particular positions.
  • Headhunters are generally retained by the company and will work exclusively on their behalf.
  • They are usually paid after the applicant is hired.


  • The process is more general and reactive.
  • Recruiters can work with more than one company at the same time.
  • Recruiters follow the general pathway, such as posting job postings on employment platforms, screening candidates, and interviews.
  • Recruiters are typically paid by the company in which they work.
  • They typically work with a variety of companies in multiple roles.

Are Headhunters Worth the Effort?

As managers, we are sometimes desperate to fill high-level jobs without broad access to the talent network. Worse, well-qualified individuals are typically invisible in the public domain and cannot be found anytime soon.

When we need a reliable way to find the best talent for the most skilled positions, a headhunter’s job is worth every cash. For more details, there are several benefits of hiring headhunters:

1. They got a broader pool

Headhunters have a network of prospective candidates and can often find people who are not actively seeking new employment.

2. We can save time

Headhunters can pre-screen and interview candidates, saving our business time and effort.

3. They’re well-experienced

Headhunters often specialize in specific industries, sure they deeply understand the job market and the skills needed for a particular role.

4. Keep this process private

Headhunters can help maintain confidentiality in the hiring process. It is helpful for companies who want to avoid advertising a vacant position or leaving an existing employee.

5. They can ideally negotiate

Headhunters can help negotiate offers, wages, and benefits, saving the company money and time.

6. We can find the right people

Headhunters are experts in identifying and attracting high-quality candidates. It can lead to better long-term employment for the company.

How to Spot an Exceptional Headhunter?

As business owners or hiring managers, we want to fill our teams’ specific roles quickly but efficiently. But like any profession, not all headhunters are skilled. Yet, there are three aspects we need to identify:

1. Experience and competence

The first is to know the size of their networks and their experiences. It is essential to find out if headhunters already have experience in their industry and how long they have been there. At least we look at these two points: 1) their existing clients and 2) their years of business.

2. Integrity and professionalism

The reliability of a headhunter is reflected in how fees are negotiated. Generally, headhunters only make money once they successfully place candidates in a job. Thus, if the candidate’s search is unsuccessful in a given period, the headhunter may not charge it.

3. A deep understanding

Headhunters can have great experience working in any company, no matter the industry or niche. That’s fine, but a better understanding of your industry is a bigger part.

How can headhunters know what to look for if they do not understand the required attributes for the work? Make sure headhunters understand both 1) their niche and 2) your business needs. Also, let them know what you expect so that you are both on the same page and working towards the same result.


We understand how precious headhunters are, but sometimes that raises questions. In case of doubt, consider going with a reputable recruiting company instead of an independent headhunter. Here at Klique, we have a professional talent acquisition strategy that can help you find the right people.