How to become independent headhunter

Becoming a freelance headhunter means recruiting on behalf of several companies, finding the ideal candidate for each client.

What is a independent headhunter?

The job of a freelance headhunter can be broken down into two aspects: the sales side and the operational side.

The sales activities of a independent headhunter

The sales side involves approaching potential clients. This means approaching companies that have recruitment needs, with a view to performing recruitment jobs on their behalf. As the word “freelance” would suggest, the headhunter is not an employee and may have multiple clients simultaneously, each with its own specific recruitment needs.

Sourcing candidates as a self-employed headhunter

The operational side is the central part of the freelance headhunter’s business. It involves finding the ideal candidate, the profile best suited to the needs expressed by a company, and assisting in their recruitment. The freelance recruiter must do two things: understand the specific needs of the company and help it to make the job vacancy attractive to candidates, then find candidates, qualify them, and refer the best to their client.

What are the tasks of a self-employed headhunter?

Before becoming an independent headhunter, it is important to understand that they are responsible for several tasks, all linked to the recruitment process.

Analysing needs and writing a job description

The freelance headhunter is responsible for analysing the specific needs of the position. To this end, they determine the content of the job ad and establish an ideal candidate profile.
This process requires the recruitment consultant to understand the company, its values, its organizational structure and its real needs. They must therefore advise their client on any corrections to be made to the job description to bring it into line with the realities of the job market.

Sourcing candidates

The independent headhunter is responsible for sourcing. They must identify the channels through which the job will be posted in order to attract applications, as well as proactively approaching the relevant people to present the opportunity to them.
This second method is called a direct approach. You can only become an established freelance recruiter when you have a large pool of qualified candidates at your disposal, who you can guide through all the key stages of their career.

Shortlisting and qualifying candidates

A freelance headhunter must make an initial pre-selection of applications, then narrow down the candidates through recruitment interviews and psychological and technical tests. At the end of this stage, they will present their client with a shortlist of profiles and may get involved in organising interviews between the company and the candidates.

Post-hire follow-up

Finally, the headhunter may also take responsibility for the final formalities of the recruitment process, particularly checking that the new hire has successfully integrated into the company. This step is a way of making sure that the client is satisfied with the recruitment service and that the candidate hired is right for the position in question. The recruitment consultant will thus be able to detect any doubts on the candidate’s or the company’s side.

What training do I need to become a independent headhunter?

Is there a specific course I need to have done to become a self-employed headhunter? Is there a qualification I need to do to become a recruitment consultant?

For any recruiter, freelance or otherwise, a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in human resources, psychology or sociology is highly desirable. There is no specific university degree in recruitment consultancy. Generalist degrees are the primary feeders for the profession. To become a freelance headhunter, you should take a degree in business administration, management or social sciences, or enrol in a business school. Additional training outside of the academic framework exists for those wishing to specialise.

A freelance headhunter will also gain in credibility if they have proven experience in a related field: in the HR department of a big company, or as a junior recruiter in a recruitment agency, for example.

What legal status do I need to work as an independent headhunter?

As the name indicates, a freelance headhunter is their own boss. They are not an employee and must create their own recruitment business. They can opt either for a traditional company status or for a sole proprietorship.

The second option is recommended, as the formalities for setting it up are quicker and simpler and the administration processes are less burdensome. A headhunter with micro-entrepreneur status can register more quickly and will pay less in social security charges than a traditional company. It should be noted that micro-entrepreneur status is available only to those with a turnover of less than €70,000 over a 12-month fiscal year. Above that threshold, your recruitment agency must be registered as a company. This means EURL or SASU status for sole traders, or SARL or SAS status when several headhunters join forces.

To become a self-employed headhunter, the option of an umbrella company (portage salarial) is also possible, by teaming up with an “agence de portage salarial”.