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What is the difference between executive search and recruitment? A headhunter or recruitment consultant?

  • February 24, 2017
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Difference between executive search and recruitment

There seems to be a huge misconception in the understanding of the difference between executive search and recruitment. In the same context the difference between what a headhunter and a recruitment consultant do. I am going to explain to you the difference between a ‘headhunter’ and a ‘recruitment’ consultant. It is a phrase used very loosely yet there is a huge difference between them both, this is something that candidates and clients in Myanmar should be aware of. To put it simply, executive search is a service used by professional companies to find the most suitable and relevant candidate for an open position, the candidate can be someone who is looking for a new challenge or not. The ‘looking for a new challenge or not’ is the difference between executive search and recruitment consultation. The reason that executive search exists is that the best people or employees are always hired and very rarely ‘looking for a job’ and as a competitive company you need the best people, the right people are the key to the success of a business.


When a vacancy becomes open within a company they will engage a recruitment company to find a suitable candidate to take up the challenge. In normal circumstances, the candidate who is successful in getting the role will be an ‘active jobseeker’. This ‘job seeker’ will be someone who is active in the job market via posting their CV on job boards, contacting recruitment companies and actively applying for roles. Using this approach clients or companies will be missing out on large numbers of suitable candidates. When a company engages with an executive search company a very different approach is taken, they will approach the best fitting candidate directly as opposed to waiting for them to approach a recruiter. In most cases, it is normal for the best fitting candidate to be engaged in a position, so as an executive search consultant it is a case of finding them. Executive search consultants target the “grey area” of the market, as in the people who are not actively looking for a role, however when presented with an opportunity they may consider a move. The best pool of candidates are those that are not actively looking for a role and it is estimated to be around 70% of the workforce. Once contacted, these candidates are not registered with recruitment companies and not interviewing for other roles, making them the best pool of candidates to work with.


There is another major difference between executive search and recruitment which is the way the consultants work alongside the client. Executive search is much more resource intensive and will give clients a thorough understanding of exactly what they need in order to fill the role. This digs deep into the reasoning behind the position existing or becoming existent. The main task is to manage the timeline of the whole project, the type of candidates that exist in the space and more importantly the skill sets in question. We are advising our clients at board level who the best candidate is, for a certain role. Executive search normally is engaged in senior appointments, roles that are hard to find and strategic hires. VCS covers all angles and can offer both executive search and recruitment consultation. Venari Consulting hybrid approach allows us to be more successful in both areas, thus allowing us to not only have the ‘actively looking’ candidates that are signed with other recruitment companies but a whole range of candidates who are not actively looking who are interested in a move, only we are in touch with them. Unfortunately, the good candidates are hard to come by and the best way to find them is to actively target them. If you don’t hire the best your business will inevitably suffer. This is the value-add when engaging in an executive search and recruitment company.
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3 thoughts on “What is the difference between executive search and recruitment? A headhunter or recruitment consultant?”

Good one Em.

Posted By William Murray February 24, 2017 at 07:53am |

A fantastically well written article by a true professional and leader in her field. Keep up the good work Emily I look forward to your next post.

Best J

Posted By James Leatham February 24, 2017 at 08:07am |

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