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The Difference between an Employment Agency and a Headhunter

Whether you are looking for a candidate or a job, an employment agency and a headhunter can help you find the right prospect for your company. Even though there are a lot of similarities between them, their differences can help you choose between them when hiring an employee.

employment agency

It is easy to think that a headhunter and an employment agency do the same job. The most common mistake is to think that headhunters work exclusively for companies and that employment agencies only help workers find new jobs. In this article, you will explore the differences between them, and if you are still hesitant about which you should hire, we will provide you with a third safer option at the end.

Employment Agency vs. Headhunters: Definition

Before analyzing the differences between them, it is important to know the correct definition of these two terms. Sometimes these terms may be a little confusing as some companies interchange them with other terms like temp agencies or staffing agencies.

Employment Agency

According to Investopedia, Employment agencies are organizations that do the legwork for employers. They post positions, find, and match employers with temporary and contract employees. These agencies may earn fees from any employer, whether public organizations or private companies.

This definition also includes the availability of these types of agencies. They can work either for a company, like a recruiting department, or for regular people, like a job board. Their skills and knowledge of several companies allow them to "perfectly" match a candidate with the right company.


Providing the same source as before, Investopedia, a headhunter, is a company or individual that provides employment recruiting services on behalf of the employer. Headhunters are hired by firms to find talent and to locate individuals who meet specific job requirements.

The only thing this definition is missing is that headhunter can work for prospects too. They can promote their candidate through several channels and talk with the relevant enterprises who desire their client's skills and knowledge.

As you can see, both agencies and headhunters can work for employers and prospects. If you analyze each of the definitions, you will notice that they are very similar and can understand why some companies use them interchangeably. But, the truth is that each of them has a specific role in your company.

Employment Agency: Characteristics

Employment agencies are best used when you have already tried to find a candidate for yourself or if you want to save some time and a little money in the recruiting process.

The recruiting process is lengthy and may consume a lot of your budget. You are destining your employees' time to find the right match for your company, but that may mean that other areas of their work may suffer a little bit. You can let an employment agency do the work for you, so your employees focus on what matters.

Unfortunately, employment agencies tend to be the last resort. Their scanning and recruitment abilities are not as good as other types of agencies, and they will match the candidate with the most affinity, not the best candidate.

Headhunters: Characteristics

On the other side of the spectrum, we can find headhunters. Headhunters typically work for specific industries. This reason for sticking in the same sector is based on the vast number of contacts they may have. For example, if a headhunter used to work as a salesman in a tech company, chances are they had good relationships with their clients. Therefore, they have acquired trusted contacts from that industry. Allowing them to pitch several candidates to those companies.

Viewed from the other side of the coin, headhunters can help companies get suitable candidates. While some of them are pretty aggressive and even try to "steal" clients from other enterprises, most headhunters have amazing negotiating skills that may convince a prospect or a team of candidates to join your company.

Headhunters have a keen eye to discover what the company is missing or what a candidate can offer to a particular company. They find the right employee to fulfill your needs, but hiring one of them as a third party can be quite pricey and time-consuming.

Employment Agency vs. Headhunters: Which one should you choose?

When choosing between an employment agency and a headhunter, it all comes down to what your company needs. Remember to ask for references for any roads you choose and try to be as detailed as possible when describing the candidate you need. Also, it would be wise to set apart only a particular amount of the budget for recruiting. You would not want to spend all your budget just to get the best employee you can.

It all comes down to your choice. Would you prefer to get a worker quickly and for a limited time? You should go with an employment agency. Would you like a worker that helps you revamp your entire branding? You should go with a headhunter. Would you like both of these aspects into only one worker? You should go with a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants are the result of hiring these two types of recruiters. They can work on specific projects for a limited time or also work indefinitely, helping your company. You can also rest assured that VAs are experts in their own fields, and you won't have to choose between the best candidate or the low-priced one.

If you want to learn more about virtual assistants, you can schedule a free consultation with us at New Age Cubicle. Our VAs have a lot of experience in different fields like social media, marketing, sales, customer service, and even bookkeeping. We are eager to hear about your company and how you are managing it to reach success.


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