Is Headhunter a Bad Word?

Is Headhunter a Bad Word?

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by Andrea Abernethy, Career Transition Coach

One day this week I groggily stopped at the local coffee shop to purchase my necessary, early morning caffeine fix. While standing in line I ran into an old high school friend. We exchanged pleasantries and started catching up on where we are both working.

He proceeded to tell me about a new position that he had landed and has been happily working in for the last two years. I explained that I have been working as a Career Transition Coach for Barton Career Advisors and that I too enjoy my work very much for various reasons, which will be alluded to in this article. After learning about my vocation of choice my “old” friend (I’m using that term loosely) asked “so is headhunter is a bad word for you?”

I wanted to say “yes, headhunter is a really bad word for me because that’s not what I do!” — but I maintained my professionalism and explained a few things to this guy. So, allow me to share what I said about the roles of the following professionals: headhunter, recruiter, and career coach. Many are not aware of the differences between the three. Over time, these roles have evolved but their understanding by the general public have not kept up.  As a result, many people may have expectations that we as professionals in these fields may not meet.

A headhunter is a person who seeks employment for another person. Headhunters are hired by employers looking for a specific person to fill a position.  It’s mostly a slang term, in other words, you’ll probably never see a business card with the title “headhunter.”

A recruiter can work for the job seeker and/or an employer.  The recruiter’s role is to interview, evaluate, and assess you to decide if he/she should present you to an employer for an interview. Recruiters are paid by the company looking to hire. You should not expect to pay the recruiter.

The difference between a headhunter and a recruiter is in general, a headhunter is looking for a particular person, usually for a “high up” position.  A recruiter works with a wider array of prospects and can be looking for people at many levels.

The Career Coach, which is what I do, helps individuals to provide direction in their career exploration, helping to develop top notch resumés, marketing client documents to employers, helping clients improve networking skills, and providing support in many other aspects of the job search. In a nut shell, the Career Coach helps the job seeker present themselves as effectively as possible to potential employers.

In coaching clients to network effectively, career coaches like me can connect a client to a company looking to hire.  Quite naturally, we’re in touch with lots of companies so it could be that we’ll connect clients with job openings.

In years past, outplacement coaches were often thought to be actual job finders. But today, the best person to find your next job is you – and as career coaches, our goal is to build up and equip you, the job seeker, to be the very best you can be, especially in this highly competitive job market.

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