The Difference Between Military Headhunters and Military Recruiters

If you need help finding a job after the military, one the best tools for a successful job search is working with a headhunter or recruiter.

While headhunters and recruiters may seem synonymous, there exist many differences between the two career fields, which not only vary in their approach to a candidate's job search, but can also be the difference between a successful career search and a struggling one.

Read on to learn the difference between headhunters and recruiters, and how a military recruiter at Orion Talent can help you find a job and make your military to civilian job transition a smooth process.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Marc Cuenca mans the rails on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during operations in the Atlantic Ocean, April 25, 2024. The George Washington is deployed as part of Southern Seas 2024, which seeks to enhance capability, improve interoperability and strengthen maritime partnerships with countries throughout the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

What is a military recruiter?

Recruiters are similar to headhunters in that they work to understand what motivates a candidate, but they do not recruit candidates out of a targeted industry - in the case of the recruiters at Orion Talent, the military. Recruiters provide advice and guidance to help those finding a job to be able to begin a career, and are usually involved in more than just the initial contact of the hiring process.

Recruiters are similar to headhunters in that they work to understand what motivates a candidate, but they do not recruit candidates out of a targeted industry - in the case of the recruiters at Orion Talent, the military.

What is a military headhunter?

Headhunters work in a variety of industries, and are most common in the corporate, sales, and engineering fields. While they can work in headhunter firms, many headhunters work alone. Headhunters traditionally work with a "passive" candidate, or a candidate that may not be seeking new employment. A headhunter finds potential candidates by targeting industries that are similar to their client's, calling employees that are in that particular career field or position.

Typically a headhunter works with candidates that may or may not seeking employment, and are more interested not in a candidate's employment status, but if they are a good fit for the position their client is trying to fill.

As a result, a headhunter engages the potential candidate to see if they would be open to a career move, and attempts to sell them on why they should consider a change (most specifically, to their client). Headhunters are only involved in the initial finding stage of the hiring process, and do not have a presence in any additional part of employment.

What to look for in a good Headhunter or Recruiter

A good headhunter or recruiter is worth their weight in gold - and can very well be the reason that you discover a quality career with excellent earning potential that you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to interview for. Headhunters and recruiters can expand your search in the job market, help you focus your search, and serve as your advocate with a potential client. Some qualities to look for in a good headhunter or recruiter include:

  • Open communication. A headhunter or recruiter should be easily accessible, and readily reply to any calls or emails. Communication between you and a headhunter or recruiter should be professional but also at ease, and you should be able to have a professional "chemistry" with your headhunter or recruiter.
  • Confidentiality. Oftentimes, you need to keep your job search a secret, and you may not want to post your resume online or respond readily to job postings. This is especially needed if you are employed in a smaller, more specific industry. Headhunters and recruiters are used to providing discretion when working with job seekers, and should be able to give you an added level of confidentiality in your job search.
  • Honest dialog and feedback. Headhunters and recruiters have in-depth knowledge about the positions and companies that they are recruiting for, and are expected to give you an honest assessment of how your experience and strengths lie within the requirements of a particular position. They should also give you honest feedback on the hiring process, such as interview preparation and salary negotiation.
  • Strong networking skills. A successful headhunter and recruiter will have strong networking skills, and should utilize that ability to find you the best possible career.

Tips for connecting with Headhunters and Recruiters

There are a variety of ways to connect with headhunters and recruiters to help you find a career, including:

  • Ask others in your network for a referral. Reach out to fellow colleagues or others in your network and ask if they know of a good headhunter or recruiter to help you with your job search. Many agencies offer referral programs to those who recommend someone, so many will be eager to share what headhunter or recruiting agency helped them find a career.
  • Search networking sites (LinkedIn is your best resource!). LinkedIn is the best way to reach out to headhunters or recruiters. Connect and send a message online and curate your own online presence to make you stand out and be attractive to headhunters and recruiters.
  • Upload your resume to an agency's website. Many headhunter and recruiter sites allow you to upload your resume for consideration for open positions that they are actively recruiting for. This step allows you to be in the pipeline for future job opportunities. Register and upload your resume with Orion.
  • Do your research. Go to their website, read testimonials, and check their success rate to find someone who will be qualified and advocate for you in your job search.

Looking for a civilian role after the military?
At Orion Talent, we specialize in veteran recruiting and military transition.

For those looking for a job after the military, the biggest difference between working with a recruiter at Orion Talent versus a military headhunter specializing in veteran recruiting is that Orion specializes in military transition, most specifically jobs for Military Officers, Junior Military Officers (JMOs), Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs), Navy Nuclear-trained Technicians, Enlisted Technicians, and Combat Arms Personnel.

The Difference Between Military Headhunters and Military Recruiters

"The key difference between recruiters and headhunters is that recruiters typically have access to many openings while a headhunter is usually sourcing for a single job," states Jericho Urmenita, Orion Recruiter.

"Working with a recruiter is like having a real estate agent for your home search: tell them your dreams and they will work with you to maximize your search criteria in their large portfolio of listings. Here at Orion Talent our recruiters, who are also typically prior military, know your background and know how to maximize your talents in the current market. We will work with you to find a match for the pay, location, type of job and industry you desire," Jericho explained.

"Working with a headhunter is like answering an open house ad on your own," he continued. "You only have access to that one house. Headhunters are typically sourcing for one opening and usually are not there to help you for any other options should you not fit the opening they have."

The military recruiters at Orion Talent are a great tool for veterans and those transitioning from the military. They can offer guidance through a very stressful and difficult process, provide recommendations on career fields that may be overlooked, and offer resume and interview preparation services.

At Orion Talent, we'll work with you to find the perfect civilian role. We're experts in post-military job transition, with hands-on experience and world class expertise in connecting veterans with jobs that leverage the unique and valuable skills and experience that you gained while serving.

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