Headhunter-und-Personalberater-Kooku

Interim Recruiter – a good alternative to headhunters


Anyone who works in human resources knows them: personnel
recruitment consultants and headhunters. Calls at inconvenient times, anonymous applicant profiles, and English phone numbers. Since the experience of working with recruiting firms is usually limited to these few points, here we briefly and succinctly outline what this service is all about and provide an overview of smart recruiting alternatives. A good option: interim recruiters.

What do recruiters and headhunters do?

Recruitment consultants and headhunters are terms that are often used interchangeably and essentially mean the same thing. Both offer external services and use their services to help their customers fill vacancies. In doing so, they are profiting from the current situation on the labor market and turning the shortage of skilled workers into their business model. The goal of recruiters is to place candidates for a “bounty”. A success fee is payable if the position is successfully filled. These bonuses are rarely fixed, but are based on the gross annual salary of the person placed.

How do personnel consultancies and headhunters work?

It is typical for headhunters and personnel consultancies that they work externally, i.e. not on site at the commissioning company. Thus it can happen that a Berlin company is supported by a Munich personnel consultancy. Almost more often, the phone rings and a headhunter answers in English. London has become something of an epicenter for headhunters in recent years. The companies there sell their candidates worldwide and often have German-speaking employees.

The job is usually divided into two parts: the acquisition part, where new corporate clients are acquired, and the candidate part, where candidates are readily identified and contacted using Active Search. Active search, i.e. direct approach, is predominantly carried out in career networks such as Xing or LinkedIn, but also in the CV databases of Stepstone or Monster, for example. Consultants who do both acquisition and outreach call themselves 360-degree consultants. It is not uncommon for personnel consultancies to specialize in the placement of executives, as this is where the highest return can be achieved with the least effort.

Customer acquisition on the other hand is often conducted by cold calling. Headhunters like to call companies without warning and try to sell their service directly. As a selling point, anonymous resumes are often used that might roughly fit company jobs. There are no names or contact details on the profiles themselves. These are only available in exchange for a service agreement with the executive search firm or headhunter.

How much does it cost to work with HR consultancies?

The costs for personnel consultancies or headhunters are difficult to quantify in concrete figures. Almost exclusively, however, they work with success commissions, which are only due upon successful recruitment. Until then, the service is free of charge. The commissions are a percentage of the gross annual salary of the persons referred. These rates are usually between 20% and 30% of the salary. For an executive, that quickly runs into the tens of thousands of euros.

Criticism of recruitment consultancies and disadvantages of headhunters

It feels as if personnel consultants and headhunters work according to the principle of “mass instead of class”. This feeling is fed, among other things, by the fact that companies are almost flooded with anonymous profiles from headhunters. There is always the question of how to find the right candidates when consultants have never been in the company or do not know the culture and teams. Having to buy this service for the price of a mid-range car often makes HR managers and recruiters in companies wonder. In the absence of alternatives, however, the decision is then often made to work together, even if it is difficult to get the feeling of being an exclusive customer who is given every service and every effort – because often the same candidate profiles are forwarded by the recruitment agencies to different companies at the same time.

Alternative to headhunters and personnel consultancies: Interim recruiters with service and experience

Interim recruiters are a cost-effective and significantly higher quality alternative to headhunters. Fully trained and well-trained recruiters working on an interim basis work for the company on an individually defined number of days per week – often directly on site. In this way, they get to know the culture and their colleagues and become fully attuned to the needs of the company. In this regard, they can be equated with freelancers or independent contractors who help out companies for the time of an emergency and then move on to put out the next fire. Although the service is not charged by success, but by hours, the costs are still usually lower because interim recruiters fill several positions at the same time.

For example, interim recruiters cost between €85 and €120 per hour, which is a lot of money compared to in-house recruiters, but they can fill up to ten positions at the same time for the price of a headhunter. In addition, interim recruiters do not need to be trained in the company for a long time, because they bring their access and tools with them. In addition, interim recruiters are trained by Kooku in various areas, especially active sourcing and communication with candidates. Once the recruiting pressure is off, in-house recruiters are often threatened with dismissal. This in turn creates a negative employee experience. Interim recruiters can be deployed quickly and can be replaced just as quickly after successful work.

Kooku Recruiting Partners has been placing senior-level recruiters on an interim basis throughout Germany for about ten years. With our market expertise, we have already supported companies in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Hanover, among others, in their search for qualified talent.


You can find more information about our interim service in our
service data sheet.

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