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Headhunting vs. Recruitment - The Difference

When a company chooses a hiring partner, the goal is simple- to find the best possible talent for their open positions, and choosing the right partner for your needs is key.

​Speaking to leaders within the Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences industry daily and discussing the value Mantell Associates can add to their organisations, I often find myself explaining the fact Mantell Associates is a Headhunting organisation as opposed to a Recruitment company and the question is always the same – what is the difference?

When a company chooses a hiring partner, the goal is simple – to find the best possible talent for their open positions, and choosing the right partner for your needs is key. Both options will find appropriate, suitable hires for the vacancy, but the approach required is something companies must take into consideration. I have outlined both options below to make sure you know what to consider when deciding which company to go with.


A Recruitment company will often take a “reactive strategy” to a hiring requirement. This will include advertising the position on multiple job sites so those actively seeking a new opportunity will see, use social media websites (eg. LinkedIn) and advertise the position with the hope of those who are “open to new opportunities” messaging the Recruiter directly in order to be presented to the client. Recruiters also often build a strong network in their niche area and when recruiting for a new vacancy, will reach out to these contacts to see if they could be open to presenting themselves to the client.

Traditionally, a Recruitment company will recruit for lower to mid-level hires – positions which don’t require a particular niche skillset, or where there isn’t a hiring need for multiple roles at once. If a candidate was not offered a role, the Recruiter will often have a back-up role for them.


Headhunters take a “Proactive strategy” to hiring requirements, where they focus on reaching out to passive talent. These candidates are people who are employed and not actively seeking a new role, but are the perfect fit for that vacancy. Traditionally, these candidates are open to hearing about suitable opportunities if it offers progression, or an opportunity to work in an exciting environment. Once a Headhunter qualifies a vacancy, they will explore the whole market and do whatever it takes to reach the right people.

A Headhunter is often the best choice for senior hires, and business critical vacancies which require a specific skill set. Headhunter’s look to persuade the ideal candidate that a role is worth interviewing for. However, they will only ever suggest a role if the move is a genuine career-enhancing opportunity.

To summarise, both Recruitment and Headhunting agencies are essential for new hires and each service is suited to different needs and situations. However, if you are deciding which route to go down it is important to consider which is more suitable to your business requirement. Of course, both types of companies will have different approaches – some Recruiters will often use strategies used by Headhunters and vice-versa, but when choosing your partner, it is always important to hear what services the company will be able to offer.

Mantell Associates is a specialist Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Head-Hunting organisation. To find out how we can assist with your business requirements, contact Rumman Ahmed on +44 (0)20 3778 0990 or