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1. Depends on the company...
I've worked in many companies where all full time jobs are posted, and most contract jobs are posted. In my company, no one talks to a headhunter about a job until the requisition has been approved, so there is money allocated to hire.

Having said that I was almost hired by another company(well known), but they left the req till last and things changed - they acquired another company and all new hires were suspended. I know the manager was keen to hire me, and we were all frustrated, but I could wait a year.

2. In my company, and others I've worked in, HR starts the process once the job has been approved, and I only work with headhunters once the job description has been sent.

3. I've had lots of experience with headhunters calling me at home with a hot lead and wanting to forward my resume on. I've never once had an interview unless I've met with the headhunter and spent time with them.

There are good headhunters and bad ones, same as any profession.