What is the difference between executive recruiter and headhunter?

Subtle differences

"Executive recruiter" and "headhunter" are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences in their connotations.

Executive recruiter

  • An executive recruiter typically works for a recruitment firm or as part of an organisation's internal human resources department.
  • They specialise in finding candidates for senior-level positions, such as CEOs, CFOs, directors, and other high-ranking roles.
  • Executive recruiters often have a broader focus on the recruitment process, which may involve identifying, screening, interviewing, and presenting candidates to their clients.
  • They may have a more structured approach to candidate sourcing and selection, often using databases, networking, and other resources to find suitable candidates.


  • A headhunter is an individual or firm that specialises in aggressively seeking out highly qualified candidates for specific job openings.
  • Headhunters often operate independently or as part of boutique recruitment firms.
  • Their focus is primarily on finding candidates with specific skills or experience requested by their clients, regardless of the level of the position.
  • Headhunters may employ more direct and targeted methods to locate potential candidates, such as cold calling, networking events, and referrals.
  • They may have a reputation for being more aggressive in their pursuit of candidates and may specialise in niche industries or specific job functions.

In summary, while both executive recruiters and headhunters work to fill job openings with qualified candidates, executive recruiters typically specialise in senior-level positions and may have a broader approach to the recruitment process, while headhunters are known for their more targeted and aggressive approach to finding candidates for specific roles.

What is the difference between executive recruiter and headhunter?

Want to recruit top executive talent?

Want to recruit top executive talent?

Now that you better understand the difference between executive recruiter and headhunter, you may be interested in learning more about 11 Recruitment's executive search services.

At 11, our executive search process is designed to attract, recruit, and retain high achievers based on the assumption that high achievers are both passive candidates and are scarce. 

We offer our specialised search and headhunting services to clients seeking top executives for a range of positions, including:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Operations Officer
  • Operations Manager / Director
  • Finance Manager / Director
  • Sales Manager / Director
  • HR Manager / Director
  • Marketing Manager / Director
  • IT Manager / Director
  • Service Manager
  • General Manager
  • State Manager
  • National Manager
  • Commercial Manager

Click the button below to learn more about how 11 Recruitment sources top executive-level talent for businesses throughout Australia.

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