Everything You Need to Know About Headhunters and Employment Agencies

Your guide to how to get a job using employment services, temp agencies, and headhunters.

Photo: Thinkstock

By Christopher Geno

Headhunters, temp agencies, and employment agencies, often working together, remain effective and simple solutions to find jobs. Though you may have to pay certain fees to use these employment services, and they may recruit for jobs slightly out of reach for first-time job seekers, there are still substantial benefits for those who decide to use them.

A headhunter is a recruiter who matches qualified candidates to companies or organizations seeking to fill work positions.

Use this guide to find out if headhunters and employment agencies are right for you, and how to utilize them effectively.

What is a headhunter?

Though the name sounds very ominous, a headhunter in the business world is a recruiter who matches qualified candidates to companies or organizations seeking to fill work positions. These positions are typically only at higher levels within the company.

What is an employment agency?

Employment agencies essentially do the same work as headhunters, matching candidates with companies. Employment agencies benefit from a number of employees, resources, and connections all working together.

Many agencies have websites and real, brick-and-mortar locations. Adecco and Spherion are some of the largest employment agencies around.

When should I use headhunters or employment agencies?

Headhunters traditionally are only used for upper-level positions either at companies looking to hire or well-qualified individuals seeking to fill these roles. Senior personnel and important companies often don’t like to put a great deal of information out to the public, as it can be very sensitive. Headhunters will use their contacts and relationships to fill these jobs.

Job seekers looking for entry level positions and new college graduates should consider employment agencies. Employment agencies can do the legwork for you and help you find a good job in your prospective field.

What are the costs when using employment agencies?

Employment agencies typically do not charge job seekers for their services. Employers will pay agencies when they successfully fill a position, so employment agencies may even help negotiate a larger salary. This is because the fee employers pay them is typically based on a percentage of the employee’s salary, so it is in the agency’s best interest for the employee to have better pay.

Be careful of any employment agency that charges up front fees for their services. Some agencies may offer career counseling and development services. In this case, a counselor or agency may charge hourly fees, but you should make sure that you are looking for these services before you pay.

If you decide to use an employment agency, be sure to ask whether any fees are associated with their employment services.

What are temp agencies?

Some employment agencies also work as temp agencies. These companies fill positions that are temporary, often seasonal work. Companies like Select Staffing hire employees and contract them to other employers to fill assignments that range from a day to over six months.

While temporary work isn’t what most people are looking for, it can be helpful during periods of unemployment and can lead to a permanent job as companies that work with temp agencies can hire their temporary workers full-time.


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