The Average Salary of a Headhunter

Headhunters interview candidates for their clients
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If you're looking to make a difference in people's lives and make a good living, you might consider becoming a headhunter. Headhunters, also known as recruiters, help people find jobs. Companies hire headhunters to find employees for their open positions. They screen, interview and then present resumes to these companies. They also set up interviews, negotiate salaries and extend offers to the prospective employee on behalf of the company.

Description and Requirements

    Recruiters spend a majority of their time on the phone. They cold call companies to see if they need assistance in filling positions and then, once they have an assignment, find potential candidates to fill the position. Headhunters also use advertisements and job boards as well as social networking sites such as Linked In to find candidates. About 63 percent of headhunters have bachelor’s degrees, others have advanced degrees and just 1 percent have only a high school diploma.

Types of Headhunters

    In-house or corporate recruiters work directly for a company and are considered part of the human resources department. Third-party recruiters work for themselves or recruiting firms.

    Headhunters usually specialize in placing certain types of employees, focusing on accounting, finance, engineering or technical positions. Recruiters are paid a percentage of a placed employee's first year base salary. Typically, recruiters that place middle managers and senior level candidates make more money because the salaries for those they are placing are higher. Much of a recruiter's salary depends on the number of placements and types of positions filled. However, most in-house recruiters are paid as employees and receive a salary rather than commissions.


    The percentage that third-party recruiters are paid is anywhere from 20 to 35 percent, of an employee’s first year base salary. As of July 2013, the average salaries for recruiters nationwide are anywhere from $60,000 to $180,000 per year. Executive search consultants, those who place more senior level executives, have a higher national average salary, at $79,000. The median salary, as of 2010 for those recruiters that are paid a salary rather than commission was $52,690 per year.

Career Outlook

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment is expected to increase 55 percent in the employment services sector between 2010 and 2020. Although factors such as companies using the Internet and social media to hire employees themselves will have some effect on this market, overall employment prospects for headhunters are good. As companies grow and outsource their hiring needs more and more, the overall job opportunities for headhunters will rise. Those who have a bachelor’s degree and related work experience will most likely have the best job prospects in this growing market.

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