Download the free report: "Prepare for the IT recruitment process in 2024 - IT job market in Poland"


IT Recruitment Agency vs IT Headhunters: What Is the Difference?

Every employer wants to employ the best IT specialists. Having such people in the team guarantees success – the company can dynamically develop, gain new customers, or implement and improve subsequent projects. However, the problem is that the acquisition of IT specialists is not an easy task. Despite major changes in the labor market, resulting from, inter alia, the effect of the pandemic, we can still observe a significant shortage of IT specialists in relation to available jobs. Therefore, independent recruitment rarely brings the expected results. The answer to the difficulties in finding the perfect employee for responsible, demanding jobs may be the use of IT recruitment agency services or an experienced IT Headhunter. Although both are similar and centered around recruiting IT professionals, they differ in several ways. What does this difference consist of? You can find out by reading this article.

If you’re wondering how to choose the best recruitment agency, we highly recommend reading our article about this topic.

Who is and what does an IT Headhunter do?

IT Headhunter is a profession closely related to the HR industry. Its purpose is to help companies in their search for the best employee for a given job position and at the same time to support highly qualified professionals in finding satisfactory employment. IT Headhunter is a person who is engaged in finding the best IT professionals for a given job position. He finds for his client employees with the best qualifications to perform specialized duties in a particular company. This should be a specialized person with extensive knowledge of the IT industry, must have a good understanding of his client’s expectations, and correctly verify the competence of candidates. Knowledge of psychological or sociological sciences, as well as having an extensive network of contacts are also useful.

The IT Headhunter’s job is primarily to search for high-level IT professionals, make contact with them in order to convince them to change their current employer, and accept another, even better, a job offer from their client. Thus, a headhunter focuses on building relationships and thoroughly vetting candidates who will be a good fit for the job.

Typically, his or her main responsibilities include:

  • Test the hard and soft skills of potential specialist employees at interviews
  • Direct search. It consists in using such methods that will allow us to precisely reach a potential candidate who meets all the requirements necessary to perform the tasks at a given position.
  • Providing information about the client company and the position
  • Assist the client in improving the outsourced recruitment process
  • Direct contact with candidates and building long-term relationships with them

IT Headhunters can work as freelancers, employed by a headhunting agency or by a recruitment agency. The cost of hiring an IT Headhunter is usually very high. In recent times, the earnings of such people are increasing significantly. Depending on the valuation, it is possible that you will have to pay the IT headhunter as much as 50% of the annual salary of the person hired.

How does an IT recruitment agency work?

Recruitment agencies deal with complex recruitment processes on behalf of their client, i.e. a company interested in hiring IT specialists.

After receiving information from the client, recruiters are able to prepare advertisements, pre-select application documents and conduct interviews with potential IT specialists. Recruitment ends when people with specific qualifications and skills are found and hired. Most recruitment agencies also provide a guarantee for their services, which means that in place of an employee who, for example, resigned after a month, another one will be recruited without having to pay additional fees. Despite the fact that the recruitment has ended, the recruiter still keeps in touch with the candidate. The employer should also receive a report on the activities carried out. Recruitment agencies try to provide the employer with what they want to build – a close-knit and responsible team.

Employers wondering whether it is worth using the services of recruitment agencies should remember that they can save time. At Next Technology Professionals we are able to deliver our first candidates even within 3-5 days. Thanks to our network of contacts, direct search method, consistency, and ability to thoroughly vet candidates, we are able to carefully select them and deliver only the most promising resumes. In addition, to ensure the right fit and loyalty of the prospective employee, we always provide them with accurate and detailed information about the vacancy and verify that their attitude matches the needs and goals of the company.

What is the difference between an IT recruitment agency and an IT Headhunter?

In a recruitment agency, recruiters mainly contact people who are currently open to changing jobs. They use their own databases and also place ads on job portals. Recruiter on the basis of previously defined needs, assumptions, and responsibilities of the position prepares and publishes an ad. Such an ad contains all the key information about the company, the project, the duties waiting for the candidate, and the competencies and skills that are sought by the employer. Traditionally, after the publication of the offer, the recruiter remains a passive party – waiting for applications from interested people who decide on their own to participate in the process. To increase efficiency, recruiters also use the option of direct search. The main portal on which they find candidates open to a job change is LinkedIn. After a short period of time, the recruiter presents the client with several candidates who meet his expectations.

Headhunter’s employee, just like a recruiter, understands perfectly what profile he is looking for and what competencies he cannot give up. On this basis, he/she searches in various ways for potential candidates who meet the expectations of the principal. However, IT Headhunter contacts people who are not currently looking for a new employer. For high-level roles with a unique set of required skills, passive candidates are more desirable – currently working and gaining industry experience. It’s no secret that such individuals are often employed by competing companies. Headhunter’s task is therefore at the initial stage to find the right professionals, reach them with information about the process and get them to participate in interviews. Thanks to this, the employer has a much better chance of having an interview with a candidate who has the right competencies and experience.

There are many advantages of using a headhunter’s services – you can hire specialists, and this will translate into, among other things, more dynamic development of your company. On the other hand, we cannot forget that hiring such people is very demanding and time-consuming. Changing the job is a huge life decision for most people, recruitment talks and negotiations may last even several weeks (not taking into account the notice period at the current employer).

Another important difference is the cost. Depending on the rank of an IT specialist, a headhunter takes a commission amounting to as much as 50% of the annual salary of the hired employee. In the case of recruitment agencies, the amounts range from a few to several percent of the annual salary.

When is it worth choosing to work with an IT headhunter vs. a recruitment agency?

If you have been looking for a specialist on your own for a long time, without a satisfactory result, it is a sign that you need the support of an external company in the field of recruitment.

You should use the services of a recruitment agency if:

  • You want to fill a vacancy quickly
  • You want to build a new team or significantly expand the current one (e.g. you are looking for several IT specialists for the same position)
  • You want to reach mainly candidates who are actively looking for a job

IT Headhunter services are worth using if:

  • You are looking to fill a vacancy for an expert position and know that there are not many people in the market with these qualifications.
  • You want to reach passive candidates
  • Want to support an internal IT recruiting department in a search or don’t have one at all


Hiring IT specialists is not an easy task and much depends on who exactly you are looking for. The more advanced the requirements (e.g. due to narrow specialization or high responsibility to be borne by the person filling the vacancy), the more you have to reckon with the fact that expanding the team may prove impossible when conducting the recruitment process on your own. In this case, many companies decide to delegate the task to a recruitment agency or IT headhunter. This is a good move, which will bring measurable benefits, such as minimizing the risk of misguided recruitment or acquiring the best employees on the market.
At Next Technology Professionals we also provide Executive Search services. So if you are looking for the best and most experienced IT specialists on the market, please contact us!