Have you ever found it difficult to know who you’re talking to when you’re trying to get hired? If so, you’re not alone. Most people assume that a call for an interview means that they’re meeting a hiring manager. Even when meeting recruiters, candidates often approach the interview just as they would with a typical hiring manager. And when you throw headhunters into the mix, it just adds to the general level of confusion. You need to know the difference between a headhunter, recruiter, and hiring manager. That’s the best way to ensure that you approach your job-search and interviews with the right level of preparation.
The Role of the Headhunter
Most people don’t really understand what headhunters do or how they do it. Headhunters are typically hired by agencies that have been tasked to find great candidates for their client companies. Those client firms generally need to fill open positions in a hurry. To do that, they rely on these professionals to identify qualified candidates for them. In some instances, the client companies’ own hiring processes have failed to attract the right applicants. At other times, companies use headhunters when they don’t want to openly advertise the job openings.
One key difference between a headhunter, recruiter, and hiring manager is that the headhunter is less likely to have detailed knowledge about the position. He or she will be able to talk about the basic job role, of course. However, don’t expect a detailed explanation of the position’s duties from these folks. Moreover, the headhunter is likely to have only a general level of familiarity with the company. His job is not to ensure that you’re the best fit for that position, after all. His job is to present the agency with a short-list of qualified potential hires.
It’s possible that a headhunter could directly contact you even when you’re already employed. Typically, this option is reserved for high-level key positions in larger companies. You could also receive contact based on the headhunter’s review of your LinkedIn profile – if you’ve properly leveraged that platform. Finally, you can use the internet to search for headhunters in your area or industry, and contact them directly.
(We wrote a good post here on how to find and contact headhunters)
The Role of the Recruiter
You also need to understand the role of a recruiter to better grasp the difference between a headhunter, recruiter, and hiring manager. You’ll generally find recruiters in the employ of the companies for which they recruit. They work in concert with hiring personnel and have greater access to information about their companies. As a result, your interaction with a recruiter is likely to be more insightful than any contact with a headhunter.
Another difference between the headhunter and the recruiter is found in the way that they approach applicants. When you meet with a recruiter, his or her job is not just to assess your suitability for the role. Instead, that recruiter will typically work to convince you that his company is a great option for your career success. You’ll generally find recruiters have the details you need to evaluate any job offer. Make no mistake; the recruiter’s first loyalty is to his company – but he’s a matchmaker at heart! His goal is to put together a perfect match between you and the firm.
We put together a post on how to find and email recruiters here. .
The Role of the Hiring Manager
Finally, we need to look at the role of the hiring manager. These are usually the managers who have the final say on whether a candidate gets hired. In many medium-sized or larger companies, the hiring manager doesn’t actively pursue job applications. Instead, these professionals rely on recruiters or headhunters to handle those efforts. They reserve their efforts for the most important decisions. Naturally, those decisions include making a final determination about whether your resume and interview get you hired.
You should view hiring managers as a critical link in the hiring chain. The fact is that you need their approval if you want to get hired. You can often identify them through LinkedIn. In some instances, it can even be beneficial to reach out to hiring managers directly. Most of the time, however, you may only meet these key players at a final interview.
As you examine these different hiring personalities, the difference between a headhunter, recruiter, and hiring manager should become clear. The type of job you’re seeking can determine which of these professionals you encounter during any hiring process. Many times, you may interact directly or indirectly with two or even all three of them as you audition for a new position. By understanding how their roles differ, you can more effectively interact with each of them to maximize job-search success.