The first time I heard the term “headhunter” I couldn’t help but see a vision of a headless horseman riding into the dark in pursuit of a head. But don’t be misled, the term “headhunter” isn’t one those in the profession use. They prefer employment recruiters.

Christine Kovacs, 25, — who went to the University of Toronto to study sociology and psychology but wanted to pursue sales and marketing — had a positive experience with headhunting.

“After graduating, I was able to get an administrative-type job fairly easily, but I wanted a sales/marketing-type job with growth potential. It can be hard to get out of the ‘admin ghetto,’” she says.


However, after more than six months of applying for jobs she became frustrated. Each job application she sent out was met with the same response of a lack of work experience and an unrelated degree.

“I knew I just needed to get my foot in the door. I knew that once they talked to me, instead of just seeing my resumé among tons of others, they’d give me a chance. I knew that recruiters — headhunters — could help ‘sell’ me to a client ... But I thought headhunters only worked with high-level executives, not with juniors like me.”

After talking to a friend’s older brother — who said some headhunters do work with more junior people — she decided to give it a shot.

What’s the catch? Well, like any other service, it doesn’t come for free. Typically, the employer pays the recruiting agency a fee of 20 per cent of the new hire’s starting salary, according to Paul Dodd, president of Head2Head recruiting firm. In other words, if a company hires someone who was sent to them by a recruiting agency, and that person’s starting salary is $50,000 a year, the company pays the recruiting agency $10,000.

“That $10,000 fee does not come out of the new hire’s salary. It’s paid by the employer in addition to the salary they pay the new hire,” says Dodd, who has 20 years of recruiting experience.

For Dodd, recruiters are just another tool at the hands of new graduates.

“All job seekers, and especially new grads or people new to the workplace, need to use as many job-seeking tools or resources as they can. Using a headhunter is a great resource to add to things like job boards and networking,” he adds.

And the more tools you utilize in building your career, the better.