2-minute read

Head hunter, recruitment agency, or placement agency: how to decide?

As an employer, do you tend to hire professionals to recruit your new employees? Do you know the difference between a head hunter, a recruitment agency, and a placement agency? Do you know how much this type of service costs?

The answers to these questions appear below. Hopefully, they will help you to decide which option is best for you.

  1. What are the advantages of hiring a recruiter to interview and hire a new employee, when this is something I could do myself?


  • Outside perspective on the best recruitment strategies;
  • Services of a reliable person with expertise in your market and the ability to find the best talent in your industry (directories, candidate databases, etc.), as well as to pre-screen candidates;
  • Savings of time and money: A professional will get the job done faster, allowing you to focus on more productive tasks;
  • Guarantee on the recruiter’s work.


  1. Whom can I ask for help in hiring a professional, a manager, or a senior executive with highly specific and specialized skills (generally for higher-paid positions)?

Answer: A head hunter.
The job of head hunters is to find the perfect candidate for your position.

What exactly will the head hunter do for me?


  1. He/she will meet with you to determine the job requirements and draw up the ideal candidate’s profile;
  2. He/she will search the locations, companies, or networks where the perfect candidate is likely to be found;
  3. He/she will meet with the candidates, review their experience, and assess their skills and competencies;
  4. He/she will inform the candidate about the career opportunity, and your corporate vision and values. He/she sometimes needs to use his/her powers of persuasion and negotiating skills to convince the candidate to meet with you;
  5. He/she will support you throughout the process, up until negotiation of the employment offer;
  6. He/she will constantly remain on the lookout for the best talent on the market, keeping in mind individual candidates’ interests and profiles.
  1. What if I need to hire a sales representative, or fill a technical position, like an engineer or a service technician?

Answer: A recruitment agency

What exactly will they do for me?

A recruitment agency generally has a large database of candidates from which they can quickly fill your positions, even at the last minute. The recruiter:

  1. Will interview the pre-screened candidates to assess their experience, skills, and competencies;
  2. Will give you a short list of candidates so that you can begin the interview process and make your final selection;
  3. May assess personality traits or certain, more specific competencies using proven psychometric tests (on request);
  4. May conduct the usual pre-hiring checks (degrees, references, etc. – on request);
  5. Will assist you with negotiating the employment contract.

Some firms provide both head hunting and recruitment services, for example, St-Amour and Associates.

  1. What is the best option for helping me meet my occasional/freelance needs?

Answer: A placement agency

A placement agency usually takes care of coordinating and paying employees who are not on your staff or your payroll. Here are some examples of positions they specialize in:

  • Support staff for offices, banks, and plants
  • Specialized employees, such as nurses
  • Temporary accounting employees (when accounting firms are overworked)


  1. How can I make sure a firm is reliable before hiring them?

Answer: We recommend that you evaluate firms according to the following criteria:

  • Reputation in the market
  • Industry expertise and familiarity with your business sector.
  • Talent search methods
  • Types of positions they specialize in
  • How they assess their own performance


  1. How much does this type of service cost? Do I pay in advance, when I receive the CVs, or after the candidate is hired?

Answer: While the cost largely depends on the extensiveness of the search required, here is an overview of the most common pricing arrangements:

  • Head hunter: generally charges 1/3 in advance, 1/3 on receipt of the CVs, and 1/3 on hiring.
  • Recruitment agency: often charges a percentage of the candidate’s salary or a fixed amount on hiring.
  • Placement agency: operates like a rental agency, i.e., fixed daily amount at a predetermined hourly rate.


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