Headhunters vs. Applying Directly – The Pros and Cons of Job Searching


A decade ago, direct application was the most common way of showing interest for jobs as headhunters and recruitment agency industries were not yet fully developed. This process left human resource departments with the tedious task of sorting through piles of CV’s. The introduction of headhunting in job searches has saved companies a great deal of time as the agencies pick only a few candidates who have the right skills for the job. This job searching technique is ideal in the following scenarios.

It is the Applicant’s First Job

This technique is perfect for first-time job applicants as they don’t always have the required experience for the position. The headhunting expert offers great insights that help the applicant through the interview and hiring processes. Some headhunters provide useful skills for negotiating salaries and answering the interview questions.

If the Applicant’s Skills are not As Unique

Headhunting experts push the applicant’s CV, which is effective when the document does not contain exceptional skills. The applicant should have a good relationship with the recruiter to help him represent you well. It explains why recruiters discourage applicants from sending out their CV to multiple agencies. The most effective way is to use one reputable agency and create a healthy relationship with them.



Ability to Recruit the Best Profile

Headhunting firms add value as they can identify and convince the best profiles to work for clients. Common targets include executives, senior managers, and middle management. This range has been expanding as companies are using headhunters to fill lower positions like technicians with specific knowledge and technical sales staff, among others.

Exposure to a Various Job Openings

Headhunters expose applicants to a vast range of opportunities that the latter would not find on their own. Some companies work exclusively with headhunters and avoid advertising jobs to the public. As such, headhunters can easily recommend candidates to prospective employers.

The Headhunting Professional Focuses on the Applicant’s Success

Headhunters work on commissions thus, they get paid once you are hired. This way, they are motivated to find companies that are likely to employ the applicant.

Transformed CV’s

Headhunters know the kind of CV’s employers want and will craft them to look as such. They transform the CV’s into better versions, which is essential to getting that job interview. The headhunting specialist will also coach you on how to answer the interview questions and provide useful tips that give you an edge.

Precise Targeting

Headhunters perform investigations that ensure precise targeting, which is not always possible with traditional recruitment methods. The headhunter offers a list of companies within which the search is carried out. As a result, only candidates from the relevant target sectors are approached.

Anonymity and Discretion

Headhunters hardly disclose the name of the client when approaching the applicant. They are representing the company hence, maintain confidentiality when recruiting candidates.


Resume Gets Diluted

Headhunters are notorious for customizing the CV’s to the client’s specifications, and in doing so, the applicant may end up in a role he does not want. The applicant should talk about all such details before signing up with the headhunter.

Pressure to Sign up for Undesired Positions

While headhunters have your best interest at heart, others are only motivated by the commissions earned from clients. Therefore, they might pressure the applicant to settle for a lower salary or take a job he does not want in a bid to collect the commission.

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Direct Application

Some candidates prefer making direct application via the company’s website since they believe it gives them a better chance than using headhunters. This job searching method has changed over time as job seekers can log in to the company’s website and upload their CV or fill out an application form that shows their profile, educational background, and work experience. This way, the HR department can pick candidates who have the set of skills they are looking for. Direct application is the most suitable way of applying for jobs in the following scenarios.

The Candidate has a Contact in the Company

Direct application works best when the candidate already has a contact in the company. It can be a manager or an employee in the applicant’s network who can introduce you to the hiring manager. The connection makes your CV noticeable among the piles of other resumes on the HR database, and you are sure to get an audience with the hiring manager.

If the Job has not been Advertised Anywhere

Recruiters cite that companies are incapable of finding the right candidate on their own. This is not entirely correct as the company’s hiring manager knows the exact skills he is looking for and can quickly select the candidate that matches them. Hiring managers are more likely to identify such candidates if they have made direct applications.

When there is a Downturn

Downturns compel companies to employ techniques that will help them save money. Through direct application, companies can avoid paying recruitment fees, and job seekers have a better chance of being identified by the hiring manager and even get hired.

Pros and Cons of Direct Application

It is Easy and Convenient

With more companies creating portals from which job seekers can apply for jobs, direct application is the easiest way to get your CV with the right people. The candidate does not have to visit the company, and most websites are now optimized for mobile use thus, candidates can apply for the positions using mobile devices. Some sites even allow candidates to provide a link for access to their CV’s and cover letters.

Direct Access to the Hiring Manager

Direct application allows a job seeker to contact the hiring manager directly. Making an initial contact is effective when applying for current and future vacancies.

Remote Searching

The internet provides an opportunity for applicants to apply for positions outside their state, country or city from the comfort of their phones, laptops or other devices. Direct application is more useful as the candidate can argue his case directly with the hiring manager especially if he is planning to work remotely.

Customizable Searches

Company websites offer customized searches that allow job seekers to apply for positions that are best suited for them. Additionally, they have the freedom to choose the kind of companies they want to work for, the salaries they desire and select the location that suits them best.


Failure to Differentiate between Candidates

Direct applications don’t provide an opportunity for the job seeker to show his strengths. As such, it is difficult for the hiring manager to differentiate between different applicants, making it essential to perform an interview to select the right candidate.

Does not Leave a Notable Impression

Personal contact allows the applicant to leave an impression on the hiring manager. Some jobs require candidates to show their personality, and this is not possible if they are making direct applications via the internet. Interactions with hiring managers boost applicants’ chance of landing jobs based on their specific qualities. If the applicant is not good at making lasting first impressions, a direct application may not be the most suitable media.

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Headhunters vs. Applying Directly – The Pros and Cons of Job Searching