Originally, the term "headhunter" used to refer unambiguously to the natives of some developing countries who hunted humans, often for the purpose of taking their heads from their bodies as a trophy or for similarly sinister reasons.

Later, the term became somewhat of a synonym for "bounty hunter"; that being someone who hunts other humans to collect a reward. The hunt does not always end in the death of the hunter's quarry. Many modern bounty hunters collect money simply for bringing their prey to the police.

This finally brings us to the modern-day usage of the word "headhunter": In the business world, a headhunter is officially known as a personnel scout, talent scout or Human Resources manager. Wait, that's not quite right -- Lord Brawl tells me the politically correct designation, the totally apropos nomenclature is "Placement Consultant." On second thought, maybe it's "Recruitment Consultant?"

No matter what the name, what it boils down to is this: The headhunter makes a living out of finding individuals qualified for one or often many open positions. There are a few distinctions:

  • Some headhunters work in house, i.e. for their own company.
  • Others run or are part of a business doing nothing or little else.
  • An interesting group in the middle works for consulting firms, which make it their business to provide not only advice but also staff.
  • Headhunters may look to take on people whom their company then loans out to their customers; or they may simply find people, recommend them to their customers, take a commission and move on.
I enjoy dealing with headhunters. While they may not know much about the job they are trying to recruit me for, they tend to be less critical than the end customer. A headhunter doesn't stand to directly gain from my skill or suffer from its lack, as the end customer does. The headhunter's business is finding me and passing me on, and he is often paid by the head. Because of this, the headhunter will often make a better attempt to sell me to the customer than I might make myself. If the customer trusts the headhunter, there may not be much more interviewing or testing before I am "in". Thus, though many may spam and otherwise annoy me, I consider them my friends in the working world.

In closing, I should mention that "headhunter" is often considered a mildly derogatory term. When in doubt, I don't use it to their face.

"You don't understand, Bill." Mike kept peeling potatoes while the frightened young man in the corner eyed them both with a suspicious look. He pointed at the man. "That boy over there lived in a place where the word 'headhunter' meant something very, very different. So to say you are going to go take him to meet one in such an offhanded manner... well... I don't blame him for going off his rocker."

But Bill couldn't respond. He was knocked out on the floor, tranquilizer dart lodged securely in his throat.


Soldier in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company in the 101st Air Assault Division, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Battalion of the 502nd "Strike Force" Unit. The "Five-Oh-Deuce" is one of a handful of rapid-deployment units within the US Army and has a long and rich history throughout America's military campaigns.

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