Headhunter: understand your role and how to become one

Positions that require specific knowledge or very strategic positions, such as directors, presidents or vice presidents, call for a different look at the moment of selection, such as that of a headhunter.

This is because the internal recruiter, who works in the R&S team, may not have the tools necessary for such a choice, requiring a professional specialized in key selections.

To find out what a headhunter is, what his role is and what skills are necessary to become one, follow the article.

After all, what is headhunter?

The headhunter – or the talent scout, in the Portuguese translation – is the professional who aims to recruit, for the companies that hire him, the ideal professionals for the open positions.

For providing specialized services, the headhunter is more demanding for positions of high hierarchical level or with very particular requirements, such as very specific and little explored areas of experience or even courses and knowledge that are not accessible to all professionals in the market.

The headhunter can provide services independently, as a legal entity, or be effectively hired by the company, depending on the demand for work.

Difference between headhunter and recruiter

Although both are part of the recruitment and selection process, the performance of the headhunter and the recruiter is different.

The first difference is in the performance: while the recruiter works within the company, looking for candidates who voluntarily apply for a position or for the talent bank, the headhunter works with his networking.

That is, the headhunter leaves the company to precisely hunt for talent. Your role is much more active, in the sense of meeting the ideal candidate, without waiting for him to look for you.

It is necessary to go to the market – either via social networks specialized in professional development or via contacts that can assist you in the search for the human resource that is demanded by the company.

In addition, the recruiter tends to look more for vacancies that are not confidential and that are widely published in the media. The headhunter, on the other hand, for working with other strategies, turns more to vacancies that are not disclosed.

Nor can we forget that the recruiter can carry out other activities in parallel with the selection processes, such as working with employer branding, innovations in the way of recruiting and the candidate’s experience.

The headhunter does not carry out these activities in the company that provides its services. Its focus is exclusively on bringing suitable people into open positions.

What are your responsibilities?

As it aims to search for talents in the market, one of the main responsibilities of the talent scout is to study the profile of those who can fill the position for which he is dedicated and also the profile of the company he is recruiting. After all, he is the one who will promote the match between the two parties.

This means that the headhunter has to analyze the curricula and the behavior of the professionals to understand who has or who does not have the necessary characteristics to fill the available position.

In addition, he must contact these people, expose the vacancy in question and make the candidates contacted want to participate in the selection process.

To be able to bring the candidate with the technical and behavioral characteristics that are ideal, it is part of the headhunter’s job, therefore, to understand very well the company’s functioning, its profile, how it operates in the market and what its values ​​are.

Only with solid knowledge of the company, the headhunter will be able to exercise his role well and understand his responsibilities.

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Characteristics a headhunter must have

The headhunter’s strategic position means that he has to develop and polish certain essential characteristics, since what is expected is the indication of the right names for positions.

Check below the main traits that a headhunter must have.

Detailed look

Sometimes, a detail in a candidate’s behavior can be the differential to be chosen as the ideal person for a position. Therefore, it is essential that the talent scout has a detailed and refined eye to be able to identify the nuances that make someone stand out.

In addition, it is necessary to make the same observations for the technical characteristics. After all, in addition to fulfilling a series of requirements only in the curriculum, it is necessary that the person really has full knowledge in practice and knows how to apply it on a daily basis.

Vast networking

To perform its active job of seeking qualified professionals, the headhunter must have many effective professional contacts, that is, his networking must be vast and, at the same time, well segmented.

If the most common practice is that the headhunter is a service provider and not a fixed contractor of the company, the interesting thing is that his contacts extend to some areas of performance, so that he can serve different companies.

In addition, meeting key people maximizes the chances of the headhunter reaching the right candidate: if he doesn’t know him yet, having the right contacts, he will probably meet someone who can formalize the presentation between the talent scout and the candidate, already creating a climate friendlier so that conversations can start.

Ethical principles

It is crucial that all professionals have an ethical posture in the companies they work for. This characteristic is even more important for the headhunter, since he works in several companies, in most cases.

It is not unlikely, then, that the headhunter serves organizations that are competitors and needs to bring professionals with the same profile to both companies.

Always aiming for the best for all the companies to which he provides his services, the professional needs to remember the values ​​that guide his work. He must maintain his ethical stance in scenarios like this.

Selling ability

Most of the time, vacancies that must be filled by people brought in via headhunter are not disclosed.

In addition to finding the ideal person, it is up to the headhunter to know how to sell the position that is open.

In addition to presenting the position in an attractive way, he should emphasize the benefits of working in the company.

Often, the professional that the talent scout thinks is right for a job is already positioned in the job market. At that moment, the power of persuasion must come into play. After all, the professional to be hired has to see a lot of value in the offer to risk changing jobs.

Active listening

Knowing how to listen to people is an essential characteristic to continue in the profession. It is necessary to be attentive to the speech of who is on the headhunter’s radar. Only by listening, will he know who has a fit with the company, the necessary technical skills and soft skills for the position.

A good salesperson, in addition to being persuasive, also knows how to listen to the pain and desires of his audience. In that case, you will know how to make the perfect match between company and candidate.


The headhunter must be proactive, as he must search for ideal candidates.

Along with this, you must seek the solution to a problem that the company has, as a key position to be filled by a qualified professional.

It is necessary to have the initiative to seek people, make a first selection and return, precisely, with the best choice for the organization.

How the headhunter collaborates with the selection process

The headhunter can be useful on several fronts within the company that hired you.

Strategic vacancies

Two more immediate possibilities – and previously explored – are strategic vacancies, such as positions of trust.

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They are not widely publicized because they demand people with very specific knowledge and profiles, so they are unlikely to be filled by searching a talent bank. Thus, a headhunter would be most appropriate.

Confidential places

Another front of the headhunter is the confidential vacancies.

Generally, this type of vacancy does not have much adherence on recruitment sites, since the essential information cannot be disclosed.

Therefore, another approach to talent acquisition is needed. This is when the headhunter is triggered. When talking to the professionals with the vacancy profile, he sells it in a more assertive way, although he cannot give many details.

Jobs in other locations

In addition, the headhunter can act remotely when a company decides to open branches in other cities, states or even countries. Having someone assigned to the place where the new branch will open can be essential in hiring the right people for certain positions. This avoids the displacement of professionals who are needed at headquarters, for example.

Another scenario for this possibility is that of the headhunter activating his contacts in the new location that the company will operate. This does away with long and tiring searches for talent in the place.

With networking spread across different parts of the country – and even the world -, the talent scout shortens the path to be taken for hiring.

Is it worth it to hire a headhunter?

Hiring the headhunter at strategic times brings benefits to the company.

Check below why it is worth bringing this professional to your company.

Assertive choices

When the headhunter knows exactly what the company’s culture is and what the candidate profile is looking for, it will eliminate all those that are out of scope. Thus, he will focus on those who will actually be able to develop effective work.

People brought in via headhunter tend to have more fit with the company, in addition to the necessary technical characteristics. Therefore, the probability that the choice made will be successful is greater.

Directed look

Because he is not involved in as many selection processes as the R&S team can be, the headhunter channels his eyes to specific hires – and that, in general, demand more attention.

Therefore, it is interesting to position the professional in strategic movements of the company. It is worth directing him to vacancies that need different treatment, because they are confidential or because they are high-ranking positions.

In this way, the headhunter will be able to stay focused and guide himself to attract people who may be relevant to the company.

Process agility

Being a fully active job, the headhunter does not expect ideal candidates to look for him: the opposite is the case.

For this reason, the wait for people who have the desired profile is also shortened, since the movement starts from the talent scout and he already has the knowledge of which strategies to use to have a quick response from the candidates.

Thus, the selection processes for key positions can be less time consuming than if they were conducted by the R&S team, in passive recruitment.

How to become headhunter?

There are no specific courses or colleges that qualify someone to be a headhunter. It is the set of behavioral characteristics and technical knowledge that can position you in the market as a talent scout.

If you want to be a headhunter, it is essential that you improve the traits necessary to carry out the activities that the profession requires. This means that, in addition to technical skills, such as deep knowledge of the market (or markets) in which they operate and knowledge of R&S, it is necessary that their profile is also consistent with the activities.

You must work on your friendliness, your persuasiveness, your approach to starting conversations and even your common sense, as you will need to consider both the needs of the company and the candidate.

Understand how recruitment automation works and how to take advantage of it in your company.

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