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Recruiter, Head Hunter, Hiring Manager – what is the difference?

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the global workforce, with many people reassessing their career and the direction they are headed. The Great Resignation’ has since followed - and the voluntary resignation of a larger than normal portion of the workforce is happening as we speak. This is good news if you are a job seeker – with many new roles now coming on the market.

Who should you contact when starting your job search, and who are the people that will contact you once you apply for a role? In most cases, it will either be a Recruiter, Head Hunter or Hiring Manager. Sometimes there is confusion about how each of these professionals can help with your job search, so we have broken it down to help you put your best foot forward.


A recruiter is someone that is either employed by a recruitment agency, or in-house at an organisation - who sources people to fill specific positions. When an employer wants to find someone to work in its organisation, they either contact recruitment agencies and / or work with their in-house recruiter to find someone to fill a specific role.

A recruiter (whether agency or in-house) works through a recruitment process with a Hiring Manager (the person within the employer who is hiring for the role). This can include putting together a job description, working through and implementing a candidate sourcing strategy, preliminary screening, behavioural interviews, shortlisting and selection, testing and assessment (if applicable) and reference and background checking.

How can a Recruiter help?

When you apply for a job, it is most likely that the first person you speak to will be a recruiter. They will assess your suitability for the role you applied for, and screen you to make sure you are the right fit. If you are moved through to the second stage (and beyond), the recruiter will coach you through the interview process, acting as a liaison between you and the employer / Hiring Manager. If you are successful in the role, the Recruiter can also coach you through your resignation process.

Even if you are not successful, it is also useful to keep in touch with the Recruiter and build rapport, as they will most likely have other roles they are working on, one of which may be suited to you. For example, each of our recruiters at Paxus work with a number of clients and have many open opportunities available at one time, and will work with you to try and find you the best match.

Head Hunters

Head Hunters are different to Recruiters and Hiring Managers, in that they typically work as a third party agent for their clients (employers). They work in a number of capacities, either as an extension of their client’s in-house team, or they are used specifically when there is an important vacancy to fill.

Head Hunters will often tap into the passive market, while recruiters are more likely to advertise a role and use their database / networks to source candidates. Head Hunters will trawl the market to uncover people that are not necessarily looking for a role, and present them convincingly with opportunities that are the right fit.

How can a Head Hunter help?

A Head Hunter will typically approach you directly if you have the skills and expertise they are looking for. LinkedIn is one of the key channels Head Hunters use to source talent, so if you are looking to attract a Head Hunter, make sure your LinkedIn profile is optimised with key words that reflect the role that you want. If a Head Hunter approaches you with a role that is not the right fit, you can consider recommending others, which will encourage the Head Hunter to reapproach you with other opportunities.

Hiring Managers

A Hiring Manager is someone that sits within an organisation who is hiring for a role. The Hiring Manager is usually the person who makes the ultimate hiring decision, and is usually the person who will manage the candidate who is hired.

How can a Hiring Manager help?

The Hiring Manager is the best person to speak to about working within the organisation and the team you may be joining. As they are usually very close to the role, and will be able to give you detail on responsibilities, culture, team, and the workings of your new department / organisation.

It is also important to ensure that you are able to see yourself working with / for the Hiring Manager, as they are generally someone that you will deal with on a day to day basis, should you be successful in the role.

If you are working with a Recruiter, prior to meeting the Hiring Manager, you should speak with the Recruiter to find out everything you can about the team and Hiring Manager, so you can have questions prepared and an informed conversation (that is sure to impress!).

Recruiters, Head Hunters and Hiring Managers can all play a vital part in helping you secure your next role. With ‘The Great Resignation’ already a foot, now is a good time to explore new opportunities. If you are looking for a new role in IT – we can help! As one of the largest IT recruiters in Australia, we have many new opportunities currently available. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local branch to find out how we can help you secure your next role.

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