Mistaking someone for a real headhunter can hurt you. The name “headhunter” is misused by lots of people in today’s business world.

What is a headhunter?

A real headhunter is an independent entity hired by a company specifically to find the right person to fill a specific job and is paid by the client for doing that.

The headhunter is not an employee of the company and has no vested interest in the client company other than to satisfactorily perform the task he or she was hired for. Though paid by the employer, the headhunter serves both the client and the job candidate because to ignore the interests of either can damage the headhunter’s reputation, not to mention the headhunter’s ability to attract good candidates from the professional community.

Anyone who claims he is going to help you find a job is not a headhunter. Headhunters don’t do that. Anyone who represents just one employer on a full-time basis is not going to introduce you to jobs that are best for you — she is pitching you the only jobs she has available at her company. She is not a headhunter.

They’re not headhunters:

  • Consulting companies
  • Contracting firms
  • Job shops
  • Career counselors
  • Employment agencies
  • Personnel representatives
  • HR recruiters
  • Temp agencies

None of them are headhunters. Don’t expect them to act like headhunters, or you will be disappointed.

(Are you determined to find and work with a good headhunter? Then learn How to Work with Headhunters: 62 myth-busting answers for fearless job hunters.)

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