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What is a headhunter?


A headhunter is a specialist among recruiters. His/her job is to find top talent for challenging positions in the company. Headhunters are also called executive recruiters or personnel consultants.

What is the main task of the headhunter? To find candidates for key positions and management tasks. Filling these positions can be a real challenge.

In most cases, the search for qualified candidates for various companies is not that easy. Besides ambition, a headhunter needs other important qualities. First of all persistence, but also persuasiveness and very good communication skills.

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What are the tasks of a headhunter?

In addition to accurate personnel placement, i.e. the targeted search for and contacting of specialists for companies, headhunters should also offer comprehensive personnel consulting services. They take over the first one or two interviews with the applicants as well as with the companies.

Headhunter services also include analyzing resumes, managing the application process, and negotiating contracts and salary terms on behalf of companies.

In addition, headhunters advise companies comprehensively on all personnel issues. Through this, they ensure that companies can attract the best professionals for their specific needs and retain them over the long-term.

Their expertise comes into play especially in challenging job placements and in the selection of executives. This includes:

  • Accompanying the search process in cooperation with the employer with the aim of finding a suitable candidate for the advertised position.
  • Conducting one or two initial interviews with candidates and companies
  • Spearheading candidates for existing positions
  • Develop and implement assessment measures for example, The Aptitude Test and The Personnel Potential Analysis
  • Review certificates and references issued by previous employers


Headhunters also advise their clients on personnel development and compensation models. Their influence extends into the area of personnel marketing, where they assist with organizational development and gather strategies for personnel-related matters.

Remuneration model as headhunter

The remuneration of the headhunter depends on the assignment of the respective client. It is based on the annual salary of the recruitee and their position in the company.

"Put simply, the higher the position, the higher the headhunter fee."

Commission fees could range from 25 to 33 percent of the vacant position. Higher percentages are possible for top direct or executive searched positions.

In addition, compensation is performance-based. Payment terms often vary depending on the assignment. In many cases, a portion of the fee is due upon placement of the order, while the remainder is paid after the positions have been successfully selected, recruited and filled. 

However, it is important to note that this rule does not always apply. Sometimes the first installment is due as soon as three candidates have been presented. In fact, several variations exist in terms of payment terms, and these may vary from case to case.

How does headhunting work?

The headhunting process starts with a thorough needs analysis in close consultation with the client company. The goal is to determine the exact requirements of the position to be filled.

With the help of databases, networks and targeted research in contact networks, an intensive search and identification of potential candidates is then carried out. Headhunters use a customized approach to arouse the interest of candidates and win them over for the position.

The next step is to do a thorough evaluation of the candidates. This involves discussions and interviews to examine their skills, experience and personalities in detail. After all, the aim is to find candidates who have the correct skills and values.

Suitable candidates are then presented to the client company. This is when detailed information and assessments are often included. The headhunter will also assist in coordinating appointments for interviews and obtaining feedback from both ends.

In the event of positive feedback, it will be time to negotiate salary and contract terms. Headhunters do their best to reach an agreement with which both the company and the candidate are satisfied with.

Once a candidate has been successfully selected, the headhunter accompanies the integration process. The goal is to ensure a smooth start in the new position.

Headhunter Aufgaben

What are the pros and cons of a headhunter for companies?

Personnel consultancies have both advantages and disadvantages for employers. In order for headhunters to be able to fulfill a client assignment, potential clients should consider the following points. The following examples should give a good overview of the most important points.

These days the services of highly qualified headhunters are available in virtually all industries and for almost all positions. However, finding the right headhunter for your company can take some time. This is due to the fact that the market for headhunters has grown considerably.

The advantages of headhunting services are their expertise in finding top talent and their ability to find qualified employees for a wide range of positions.They are most likely to offer comprehensive services, including management support and training for sales and executive staff.

However, companies should keep in mind that headhunters incur costs that must be considered when planning budgets. In addition, finding the right consultant can be difficult given the number of headhunters on the market.

Overall, headhunters offer many benefits in the search for qualified professionals, but signing them up requires careful consideration in terms of cost and selecting the right consultant. 

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