How to Become a Headhunter for Nurses

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Many specialized jobs for nurses are difficult to fill because there are more openings than candidates. This has created a demand for headhunters whose jobs resemble any recruiters’ jobs throughout the business world, with one major difference: The ideal headhunter for nursing talent is an experienced, knowledgeable nurse.

Many nurse recruiters work in human resources for the organizations whose job vacancies they are the recruiters. They usually are in charge of finding applicants for specialized positions, rather than general charge nurses.

Others are independent agents who form and maintain networks that enable them to know how and where to find the best candidates for every opening the health care organizations that are their clients might retain them to fill. Some specialize as agents for nurses who are seeking a change.

Recruiting is essentially a sales job. Some organizations require the recruiters to have a year or two of business experience.

Nevertheless, the nursing experience is what facilitates communication, rapport and trust between nurse headhunters and their clients.

What is a nurse headhunter position like?

A nursing headhunter spends the majority of the workday communicating with potential employees and employers to help match them.

This often entails travel — visiting nursing schools to talk about possible positions with students, staging and attending job fairs or organizing open houses. These ventures require knowledge of how to advertise openings and other marketing strategies.

Other times the job might call for overseeing hiring, including verification of credentials and background checks.

And it increasingly entails overseeing retention programs as organizations strive to keep productive employees.

Working with a headhunter

Although headhunters are often able to scout out nurses they need, a nurse having trouble finding a worthwhile position may consider contacting a headhunting agency directly.

The more in-demand the nurse’s specialty, the more interested the recruiter will be. For example, the recruitment fee an organization would pay for a neonatal nurse might be only half what the headhunter might earn for recruiting an intensive care or emergency services nurse. Some recruiters specialize in filling one or two specialty roles.

How to become a headhunter for nurses

Consulting a headhunter might be a good starting point toward becoming one. A headhunter, or even someone who works in human resources for a large hospital or medical group, can help the prospect determine whether becoming a recruiter might be viable.

Often a nurse headhunter will be someone who has worked as a nurse and later received further schooling in organizational leadership or health care operations and maybe then worked in an administrative capacity for a hospital or medical practice.


Recruiters who work independently tend to earn more than those employed by a corporation.

The national average salary for nurse recruiters is $76,000 a year, according to, which tracks salaries. reports a national median annual salary of more than $71,000.


For a nurse seeking a change that involves management or leadership, recruiting might be the answer, especially for those with advanced education, knowledge of patient care and inside knowledge of how every cog in the machine interrelates.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, medical and health services managers are projected to have a faster-than-average growth rate of 23 percent for the decade that ends in 2022. And health care is forecast as one of the fastest-growing occupations, primarily from new jobs.

For the right person, becoming a nurse headhunter is a rewarding position that allows a dedicated professional means of improving health care for many while no longer working directly with patients.

edited by Colin Seymour

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