Headhunter - What They Do

Human resources and recruitment officers identify and advertise job vacancies, recruit candidates, and assist in the selection and reassignment of employees. They are employed throughout the private and public sectors.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Identify current and prospective staffing requirements, prepare and post notices and advertisements, and collect and screen applications
  • Advise job applicants on employment requirements and on terms and conditions of employment
  • Review candidate inventories and contact potential applicants to arrange interviews and transfers, redeployment and placement of personnel
  • Recruit graduates of colleges, universities and other educational institutions
  • Co-ordinate and participate in selection and examination boards to evaluate candidates
  • Notify applicants of results of selection process and prepare job offers
  • Advise managers and employees on staffing policies and procedures
  • Organize and administer staff consultation and grievance procedures
  • Negotiate settlements of appeals and disputes and co-ordinate termination of employment process
  • Determine eligibility to entitlements, arrange staff training and provide information or services such as employee assistance, counselling and recognition programs
  • May supervise personnel clerks performing filing and record-keeping duties.

Job titles

  • personnel officer
  • human resources officer
  • staffing analyst
  • staffing co-ordinator
  • recruitment specialist
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • A university degree or college diploma in a field related to personnel management such as business administration, industrial relations, commerce or psychology or Completion of a professional development program in personnel administration is usually required.
  • Certification as a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) may be required.
  • Some experience in a clerical or administrative position related to personnel administration may be required.

Essential Skills


  • Read e-mail from co-workers, supervisors and job candidates. For example, they read e-mail confirming interview times, announcing changes to policies and procedures and outlining staff requests for leave and job reassignment. (2)
  • Read local and national newspapers and industry newsletters to stay informed about current employment demands for various occupations. For example, they may note stories about companies which have been recognized as industry leaders. (2)
  • Read short entries in the comment sections of job application forms to learn about applicants' backgrounds, training and work experiences. (2)
  • Read short reports about recruitment and retention matters. For example, they may read industrial psychology reports which outline the strengths and weaknesses of different types of employees and suggest training interventions for each type. (2)
  • Review job applicants' resumes and cover letters to identify candidates with required job qualifications and relevant experience. (3)
  • Read industry publications such as Canadian HR Reporter to determine industry trends and view employment statistics. They read articles on motivation, training strategies and methods for incorporating changing legislation. They learn about other companies' innovations in recruitment, retention, training and incentive practices. (3)
  • Review legislation such as the Employment Standards Act and Privacy Act to understand labour standards and human rights regulations. (3)
  • Read policy and procedure manuals. They may read Workers' Compensation Board manuals when making applications for special claims. They may read the Human Resource Management Association Code of Conduct to ensure their actions conform to industry standards. They may review their organizations' collective agreements to ensure adherence to negotiated clauses such as numbers of training days per year. (3)

Document use

  • Complete a variety of records and forms. For example, they enter employee names, phone numbers, start dates, and designations into employment records. They enter employee's names, hours worked, absences and in-lieu time into payroll summary sheets. They complete employee interview report forms to capture and rate their impressions of job candidates. They complete application forms for training events, seminars and conferences. (2)
  • Locate data in a variety of entry forms. For example, they scan employment applications, authorizations for character and criminal reference checks and security clearance forms to verify job applicants have entered all required data. They review staff transfer, reclassification, vacation leave and travel authorization requests to determine actions required. They may review candidates' driver abstracts to verify driving records. (2)
  • Complete a variety of checklists. For example, they complete pre-interview checklists to verify that all required documentation is in applicants' files. They indicate their impressions of appearance, attitude, poise and alertness of candidates on employment interview report forms. They indicate candidates' levels of performance in previous jobs on reference check forms. (2)
  • Locate data in a variety of tables and schedules. For example, they scan salary range tables to locate the appropriate rate of pay according to job classification and years of experience. They review and update staff vacation leave tables. (2)


  • Take brief notes during interviews to record their observations and capture candidates' responses. (1)
  • Write e-mail to job candidates, co-workers, supervisors and the general public. For example, they confirm interview dates, times and locations with job candidates. They respond to co-workers' and supervisors' queries about benefits, vacation leave and training opportunities. They respond to inquiries about employment opportunities from the general public. (2)
  • Write letters to job candidates. They confirm start dates, salaries, lengths of probation periods and their employment benefits for successful candidates. They thank unsuccessful job candidates for their participation and give reasons for not hiring them. (2)
  • Write copy for job advertisements and postings. They write brief overviews of their companies and describe skill requirements, benefits and application procedures for jobs being advertised. They may use previous job postings as templates for new advertisements. (2)
  • May revise their companies' employment guidelines to reflect changes to policies and procedures. (3)
  • May create facilitator training guides for use in new employee orientation sessions. (3)


Money Math

  • Purchase display booth spaces and rent accessories such as table skirting, audio, and video equipment for job fairs, career days and recruitment forums. (1)
  • Calculate expense claim amounts for expenses they incur while providing training and carrying out recruitment activities. They total charges for travel, accommodation, meals and incidentals. They may charge their companies for the use of personal vehicles at per kilometre rates. (2)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Compare advertising prices for a variety of media. For example, they may compare prices of print advertising options with differing costs per column inch, running days and placements. (2)
  • Prepare and monitor budgets for marketing initiatives. They budget funds for display booths, promotional materials, travel, accommodation and additional staff. (2)
  • Create interview schedules. For example, they allocate set blocks of time to interview candidates and may adjust the schedule to accommodate lengthy interviews. (2)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Track the elapsed and remaining time during the interviewing and testing of job candidate. (1)
  • Calculate time intervals and employment start and stop dates using data from personal resumes and interview notes. (2)

Data Analysis Math

  • Compare salaries, benefit packages, turnover and retention rates to industry standards and those offered by competitors. (1)
  • Analyze web site traffic, newspaper readership, job fair attendance and other advertising data. For example, they compare 'hit rates' for different pages of employment web sites. (1)
  • Generate statistics to describe their organizations' workforces and recruitment, selection and hiring activities. For example, they record numbers of applications received, positions filled and individuals hired during specific time periods. They may calculate the rate of employee turnover. They describe the size and attributes of the workforce and monitor numbers of males, females, visible minorities and aboriginal peoples for equity purposes. (3)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate numbers of applications to expect for various job types, geographic locations and advertising methods. For example, a personnel officer may estimate the number of applicants to expect for a clerical position posted for two days in a large city newspaper. (2)
  • Estimate times required to complete the hiring processes from writing advertisements through receipt of applications, candidate interviews and reports, reference checks, job offers, acceptances and employee orientations. (3)

Oral communication

  • Speak to job candidates. For example, they contact candidates to schedule interviews, confirm start dates, salary ranges, benefits and probationary periods. They schedule employee orientation sessions to review their companies' expectations, policies and procedures. They inform unsuccessful candidates of their decisions and may explain why they were not selected. (2)
  • Discuss recruitment and human resource matters with co-workers. For example, they may communicate with co-workers to clarify job requirements such as levels of education and to request changes to job descriptions. (2)
  • Discuss human resource matters with their supervisors. For example, they discuss impending staff changes, adjustments to job classifications, interview results and the final selection of candidates. They may discuss harassment and discrimination concerns. (2)
  • Interact with suppliers to get information about products and place orders. For example, they contact newspapers to determine costs and run times for advertisements. They contact outside training providers for details of programs offered, costs and registration procedures. (2)
  • Interview job candidates, their personal and professional references and former employers. For example, personnel officers telephone job candidates' references to clarify resume details and determine candidates' suitabilities for job openings. They contact former employers to verify employment data and to solicit their opinions of job candidates' abilities and attitudes. (3)
  • May give presentations at job fairs and career days. They outline the opportunities and benefits of working with their companies and explain application processes. (3)
  • Discuss changes to regulations, new procedures and other staffing concerns during management meetings. Occasionally, they may make presentations on special projects they are handling. (3)


Problem Solving

  • Receive requests from third parties wanting to view job applicants' files. They explain this is not permitted under Canadian privacy laws. (1)
  • Find that advertising budgets are limited. They may advertise in local and weekly newspapers rather than national ones. They may experiment with inexpensive alternatives such as offering incentives to employees who refer successful job candidates. (1)
  • Do not receive the anticipated responses to newspaper advertisements. They confirm the advertisements were properly placed and accurately worded. They may revise wording, extend deadlines and place advertisements on employment web sites. (2)

Decision Making

  • Decide that staff members are eligible for vacation leave. They review company policies and consider employees' seniorities when processing requests. (1)
  • Determine placement on the salary grid for new employees. They consider the employees' academic qualifications, years of experience, current salary levels and market demands for their skill sets. (1)
  • Select job applicants for interviews. They follow their companies' procedures for verifying data and comparing candidates' qualifications to job requirements. Occasionally, they may interpret selection criteria less stringently and interview borderline candidates to ensure that promising talent is not missed. (2)
  • Choose advertising media and methods after considering target markets and budget allocations for recruitment activities. (2)
  • Set priorities for multiple hiring requests. They review the dates the hiring requests were received and the anticipated start dates for the upcoming jobs. They determine if the jobs are temporary or permanent and if they are to be posted internally or externally. (2)

Critical Thinking

  • Assess the correctness of written responses to screening test questions. They analyze the content, sentence structure and spelling. (1)
  • May evaluate the accuracy and acceptability of job descriptions and advertisements. They ensure the requested levels of education and experience are appropriate for the jobs described and corresponding classification levels. For example, when job competitions are open to the public they cannot request experience with their organizations' internal systems. (2)
  • Assess the suitability of employees for promotions. They consider the strengths and weaknesses of employees as identified by supervisors and in assessment reports. They review the employees' work histories and may interview them to verify educational backgrounds and subsequent learning experiences. (2)
  • Judge the suitability of candidates at all stages of selection processes. They validate candidates' education, work experiences and credentials. During interviews, they observe body language, appearance and ease of response to interview questions. They discuss findings with members of hiring committees and check candidates' references. (3)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their hiring processes. They examine the costs incurred for recruitment events, the resulting numbers of applications and the promising candidates identified. They track the times taken for elements of recruitment processes to ensure that the processes are timely and effective. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Personnel and recruitment officers receive assignments from supervisors, managers and department heads in their organizations. Within the constraints of their positions, they have discretion to sequence job tasks and determine their own priorities. Personnel and recruitment officers experience small interruptions throughout the day but rarely does this require any significant adjustment of their work or interview schedules. (2)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember standard interview questions.
  • Recall job classifications and associated salary ranges.

Finding Information

  • Find information about employees and job candidates. They scan candidates' resumes, telephone directories and corporate websites. They speak with managers, supervisors, co-workers and with job candidates' references and former employers. (2)

Digital technology

  • Use word processing. For example, they use programs such as Word to create employment confirmation letters and contracts. They create job advertisements and may use 'track changes' when editing job postings written by co-workers. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they may use presentation software such as PowerPoint to revise slide presentations for employee orientation sessions. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they enter and extract data from their organizations' human resource management databases. They enter data such as start dates and salary classifications for new employees. They record transfer and reclassification requests and verify days off in lieu of holidays and vacation entitlements. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they exchange e-mail with co-workers and supervisors using programs such as Outlook. They e-mail job applicants to arrange and confirm interview appointments and send job advertisements to newspapers. Personnel officers using Outlook may record appointments in their calendars and use the program's note functions to track tasks and completion times. (2)
  • Use Internet. For example, they use Internet browsers to access a variety of web sites and post-employment advertisements. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they use spreadsheet programs such as Excel and QuattroPro to create tables that display the dates and times for interviews and other recruitment activities. They create spreadsheets to track vacation requests. (3)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Personnel and recruitment officers generally work as members of human resource teams which advertise job openings, conduct interviews, assess and select suitable candidates. They coordinate and integrate job tasks such as interviewing and reviewing resumes with supervisors, managers and co-workers. (2)

Continuous Learning

Personnel and recruitment officers establish their own learning goals in accordance with their job tasks. They may attend courses to learn about topics such as privacy, employment standards and labour relations. Some courses are offered by their organizations, while others are provided by outside agencies and associations. They may use the Internet and industry bulletins, journals and newsletters as additional sources of information. Personnel and recruitment officers also learn a significant amount on the job, through their day-to-day activities and interactions with co-workers. (3)