With an increased understanding of the tumor biology of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), targeted therapies have found their way into the clinical treatment routines against this entity. Nevertheless, to date platinum-based cytostatic agents remain the first line choice and targeting the epidermal growth factor-receptor (EGFR) with combined cetuximab and radiation therapy remains the only targeted therapy approved in the curative setting. Investigation of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), such as antibodies targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and its ligand PD-L1, resulted in a change of paradigms in oncology and in the first approval of new drugs for treating SCCHN. Nivolumab and pembrolizumab, two anti-PD-1 antibodies, were the first agents shown to improve overall survival for patients with metastatic/recurrent tumors in recent years. Currently, several clinical trials investigate the role of ICI in different therapeutic settings. A robust set of biomarkers will be an inevitable tool for future individualized treatment approaches including radiation dose de-escalation and escalation strategies. This review aims to summarize achieved goals, the current status and future perspectives regarding targeted therapies and ICI in the management of SCCHN.