Recruitment, Executive Search, Headhunting and Talent Acquisition

Recruitment, Executive Search, Headhunting and Talent Acquisition

In this article we are going to discuss the differences in meaning between these terms and why using them correctly stops you getting confused. The recruitment area of the Human Resources function has a number of terms which have quite different meanings and it is easy to get them confused.


‘Recruitment’ is the general word used to refer to all the aspects of finding and hiring candidates for an organisation. It covers finding people at all levels and for all functions and it is carried out in a variety of ways depending on the job being filled.

Executive Search

The main difference between Executive search and recruitment is the candidates involved. A recruiter will work to fill positions in an organisation and rely a lot on advertising for candidates. When an agency is asked to search for a senior role and focus on finding passive candidates then we would refer to this as Executive Search. An agency like Top Recruitment Cambodia regularly carries out executive search for senior positions when a client has very specific needs and knows that the candidates they are looking for will likely not respond to a job ad.


The term ‘headhunter’ is the most misused of all the terms because many people use it interchangeably with the word ‘recruiter’. Usually the term ‘headhunter is used when an organisation has engaged an agency to find someone with hard to find or unique skill-sets. The positions the headhunter works to fill are usually senior and specialised and so headhunters spend their time approaching and discussing positions with high-quality talent.

Talent Acquisition

The term talent acquisition refers to an organisation’s ongoing strategy to find leaders, specialists or future executives. Talent acquisition is focussed on long-term human resources planning to support the organisation’s future needs, although it also refers to finding suitable candidates for positions that require very specific skillsets. We could almost say that whereas recruitment is focussed on today, talent acquisition is focussed on tomorrow.

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