“Headhunter” has a savage connotation, and “recruiter” might suggest Uncle Sam summoning you to military service, but don’t overlook these two categories in your job search.
A headhunter is a person or agency hired by a company to find candidates for a specific opening. With today’s low unemployment, headhunters place anyone from computer programmers to CEOs. In the past, headhunters were typically called upon to find high level executives and were known as “executive search firms.”
Many headhunters specialize in particular industries or job types. Does that mean they won’t place you? Not necessarily. You can approach a headhunter and explain what you’re looking for, and they may either add your resume to their database or refer you to someone who handles jobs at your level.
Recruiters, on the other hand, tend to be internal company employees. They often attend career fairs to attract job seekers to their company. Their twin goals are to promote their company and to collect as many resumes as possible to beef up the company’s database. Recruiters, therefore, aren’t the most direct route to finding a job, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to meet someone who can answer your questions and convey your resume back to the company.