How to Become a

Headhunter or Recruiter

The complete career guide to be a Headhunter or Recruiter: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $63,710
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 4.5%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Deal Making
    Career Attribute

Headhunters and recruiters often work for employment and placement agencies and are responsible for helping employers and businesses find the right individuals to fill open positions. They take care of the work of recruiting, screening, interviewing, and recommending individuals for open positions.

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What is a Headhunter or Recruiter?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in headhunter or recruiter roles:

  • Work with employers to determine what positions are open and position requirements
  • Post open positions on a variety of job sites to collect applications
  • Seek qualified candidates that haven’t necessarily expressed interest in a job change
  • Screen applicants to determine if they’re a good fit for companies and open positions
  • Refer qualified candidates to employers for additional interviews and consideration

A Day in the Life

Headhunters and recruiters commonly work for employment agencies that provide businesses with contract or trial employees for open positions. Generally, they work with large businesses that have a constant need for new, contract employees. Headhunters and recruiters form relationships with the hiring managers within these companies so that the managers are more likely to work with them when adding new contractors. Recruiters earn profits off of placed contractors and those that are later hired.

When a hiring manager needs to fill an open position, he/she reaches out to recruiters and placement agencies, providing a job description for the open role and any details about the types of candidates that would be preferred. The headhunter or recruiter then begins searching for good candidates to fill the position. Recruiters post the opening across multiple job boards and even reach out to people who haven’t expressed interest in a career or job change, seeking the perfect candidate for the position.

The headhunter or recruiter also conducts prescreening interviews with the candidate to determine fit before recommending candidates are interviewed by the hiring manager. If the candidate is brought on as a contractor for the hiring employer, the headhunter or recruiter earns a commission from the placement for each pay period that the contractor works with the company, and is awarded another commission if the contractor is hired on to work as an employee for the company.

Typical Work Schedule

Headhunters and recruiters follow the regular working schedule in most of the time which starts from 8 am to 4 pm 5 days per week. However, you should also be ready to work outside this schedule to interview or call candidates from other countries with different time zones. You may also need to schedule the interviews out of the working hours to accommodate the busy schedule of some candidates. Additionally, you will be commonly asked to participate in employment fairs which usually take place during weekends. Headhunters and recruiters spend around 63% of their work time on phone to contact candidates which adds up to more than 1,300 hours per year.

Projected Job Growth

The field of recruitment and headhunting has changed dramatically in the recent years. Several recruitment websites have grown massively. For example, LinkedIn hosts around 20 million jobs according to the statistics published by the website. Statistics showed that there are around 122 million people who received an interview to a job announced on the website with more than 35 million actually hired. There are many other recruitment websites that can even be more popular in the United States as Indeed, Google for Jobs, Monster, ZipRecruiter and SimplyHired.

It may be expected that these websites decrease the demand for headhunters and recruiters. Surprisingly, statistics showed that the demand for recruiters has increased since 2016 by more than 60%. This surge is attributed to the expanding roles and duties of recruiters with increasing difficulty to find the matching talents and skills. Currently, recruiters are more commonly hired as advisors for businesses since they need to monitor the results of their choices and decisions related to the hiring process.

Job Specializations

  • Headhunters tend to specialize in finding candidates for leadership positions like vice president, president, or chief officer roles. They commonly approach individuals who are already employed if they believe their open position is a good fit.
  • Recruiters find candidates for entry- and mid-level positions and manager roles. Recruiters tend to accept applications and fill roles with applicants rather than reaching out to already-employed individuals.

Typical Employers

Recruiters and headhunters can be hired by large companies as part of the human resources department. This is the case with companies that need to hire new employees on regular basis. More commonly, companies outsource this task to recruitment agencies as Robert Half, Aerotek, TEKsystems and Randstad. There are also agencies specialized in recruiting executives and higher management positions as Korn Ferry Executive Search, Spencer Stuart, Robert Half Executive Search and Russel Reynolds Associates. Recruiters also play a major role in managing websites as Indeed and LinkedIn.

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How To Become a Headhunter or Recruiter

The first step in becoming a recruiter is to earn a bachelor’s degree. While the major you study is somewhat flexible, the most popular majors for recruiters are psychology, business, marketing, human resources, and sociology. Few recruiters find work in the field right after graduating with a degree, so your next step will be to find an entry-level position that allows you to gain professional business experience. Many recruiters begin their careers in sales as recruiting can be a sales-focused position.

After working in an entry-level position for a year or more, you may want to improve your resume by earning a professional certification. LinkedIn offers a specialized recruiter certification, and you can also earn a certificate in internet recruiting from AIRS. These professional certifications will allow you to learn more about the processes and best practices of recruiting both online and offline, and will also help you stand out from the competition when applying for open recruiter or headhunter roles.

With the right degree and experience, you may be able to work your way into an entry-level recruiter role, training under an experienced recruiter or headhunter. Additionally, as you gain recruitment experience and enjoy successful placements, you may eventually be able to qualify for promotions into senior-level and executive recruiter roles. While some executive recruiter have master’s degrees, most earn the position simply by working hard and proving their value to the company.

Headhunter or Recruiter Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Headhunter or Recruiter salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Headhunter or Recruiter's can make an average annual salary of $63,710, or $31 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $43,780 or $21 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #239 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Headhunter or Recruiter. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Headhunter or Recruiters

  • 2.3%   Doctorate
  • 15.5%   Masters
  • 42.6%   Bachelors
  • 8.6%   Associates
  • 19.9%   College
  • 10.1%   High School
  • 0.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Headhunter or Recruiter job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 21,900 jobs for a total of 503,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 4.5% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #460 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Headhunter or Recruiters

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Temporary help services 41,400 6,400 6%
Management of companies and enterprises 33,500 300 0%
Federal government, excluding postal service 27,200 -3,600 -4%

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