What is a Headhunter?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

careertrend article image

Becoming a Headhunter: Helping Employers and Workers Connect

Think back to when you were in high school and college: Were you a matchmaker? If you were constantly setting friends up on dates, a career as a headhunter might be right for you. In this job, you will put your personal instincts and knack for positive introductions to work by helping workers and businesses connect. In some cases, headhunters work independently, which allows you the flexibility you need to balance work and family life.

Job Description

Headhunters, sometimes known as recruiters, work to place people in available jobs. While some companies manage to hire a competent workforce just by putting a “help wanted” sign on their doors, many rely on human resources specialists who are trained in evaluating potential employees for their suitability for a specific role.

Some headhunters work for human resources departments within companies, while others are either self-employed or work for third-party recruitment firms.

As a headhunter, you will spend at least part of your time working with hiring managers to develop a better understanding of the job positions that you’ll be working to fill.

You will also be casting a net for potential job candidates. This involves scanning job listings, placing ads of your own, visiting job fairs and communicating with school career offices.

Once you identify a prospect, you can begin the screening process, which may consist of reviewing their resume, checking references, verifying employment and education, and facilitating interviews with the employer.

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, headhunters typically hold, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in human resources, personnel management or some other business-related field. Some employers may prefer to hire or contract with a headhunter who also holds one or more human resources professional certifications, such as those issued by the Society for Human Resource Management.

According to the BLS, the average median salary for human resources workers, which includes headhunters, was $63,490 as of May 2020. This means that 50 percent of human resource workers made more than this amount, and 50 percent made less. It should also be noted, however, that the compensation for headhunters who are self-employed or work in recruitment firms is often based primarily, or entirely, on commissions. While the financial rewards can be great, it can take a new recruiter some time to build a significant income.


As a recruiter, you’ll likely have an office to work from, but you may spend a significant amount of time on the road or traveling long distances as you attend job fairs, meet with candidates for interviews and engage with employers. If you are attempting to recruit candidates who are already employed, you may have to meet with them during evenings and weekends.

Years of Experience

Recruiters can earn more money as they gain experience in their careers. A survey by PayScale.com shows the correlation between length of employment and earnings:

  • 0–5 years: $44,000
  • 5–10 years: $56,000 
  • 10–20 years: $60,000 
  • 20+ years: $65,000 

Job Growth Trend

According to the BLS, job growth in the human resources field is expected to grow 10 percent from 2020 to 2030. While many business tasks are increasingly being automated, there will still be a need for recruiters who have the soft skills needed to get to know applicants and negotiate employment contracts.