Recruitment: A Glossary of Terms


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, October 9, 2017

Optimize your recruitment process by learning the jargon behind hiring the right people.

Article 7 Minutes
Recruitment: A Glossary of Terms

No matter what the size of your company is, recruitment is going to be an integral part of its growth and expansion. Whilst some organizations have dedicated recruitment experts and others prefer to outsource it, it’s important to know the jargon behind the process.

For those working within HR and the recruitment industry, it’s important that you understand all the terminology used in the hiring of individuals. This glossary of terms is going to provide you with your go-to resource when it comes to untangling the complicated jargon in recruitment and also provide you with a bit more know-how about recruitment as a whole.

Why is recruitment so challenging?

Many recruiters and businesses looking to hire new employees are facing a whole host of recruitment challenges. This can range from how time-consuming the process is to how costly it is, and how there seems to be a skills shortage in the talent pool.

The 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey by ManpowerGroup showed that 40% of employers are reporting a talent shortage; the highest it’s been in almost ten years. This means that recruiters are struggling to find the right applicants with the relevant experience to fill their vacant roles.

Although for many it may not necessarily be the recruitment process on its own that’s so costly, but rather the damage of hiring an inappropriate candidate. Recruiting the wrong person can have a big impact on a company, costing it even more money to train, manage and deal with issues as they arise. This is also likely to lead to an employee leaving or being dismissed and restarting the costly recruiting process all over again.

Why recruitment and retention are important

Understanding the implications of poor recruitment only goes to emphasize how important it is in the first place. Hiring the right employee not only strengthens your business but builds your company culture and molds it into the organization it will become.

Thus, recruitment and retention go hand in hand. As discussed above, retention is vital to successful recruitment and high turnover rates can have a dramatic effect on the morale of a business. Of course, some turnover is unavoidable but if you have members of staff leaving within their probationary period, then it may be time to rethink your recruitment strategy.

How recruitment has changed

With the rise of technology, the face of recruitment has changed, creating a more social and personable experience. Industry giants are paving the way in how businesses should approach recruitment.

Microsoft, for example, united its individual recruitment strategies to create a global approach to hiring employees. Microsoft also uses a multi-faceted strategy across its social networks to recruit the right employees, showing that recruitment is something that needs to be managed and strategized like any other area of business.

As talent has become a hot commodity, businesses have had to work hard and compete like never before to really get the best of the best. Where it once used to be the candidate would have to showcase their skills, the modern recruitment world has flipped and relies more on companies showcasing what they can offer candidates.

Active Candidate

Active candidates are the ones who are actively looking for work by applying to job adverts and submitting resumes.

Applicant Pool

The applicant pool refers to the collective number of people who have applied for a specific position. The employer will work through the applicant pool to create a short-list of individuals to progress to the next stage.


An applicant tracking system, also known as ATS, is a piece of software recruiters use to manage and track the current applications. Similar to a CRM (customer relationship management) system, an ATS can filter applicants based on selected criteria.


When describing the salary for a particular position in a job advert, DOE refers to ‘Depends on Experience’ and therefore means that the employer is willing to offer a higher salary for those with relevant experience.

Employee Poaching

Employee poaching is a term used when companies hire employees from their competitors. Regularly found in high-growth industries, employee poaching normally occurs when certain employees can offer a specialized set of skills.

Entry Level Job

An entry level job refers to a type of job reserved for new graduates or trainees. Generally, these types of jobs are for those who have recently completed a training or degree program and is widely accepted as the entry point into a specific profession. Entry level jobs are also likely to require less experience and therefore are likely to have a lower salary.


An acronym for fixed-term contracts, FTCs have a specified begin and end date which is referred to as a fixed-term period.


Full-time equivalent, also referred to under the acronym FTE, is a standardized unit of measuring working hours for those who work part-time. Employees who work full-time are referred to as 1.0 and those who work half-time are referred to as 0.5.

By using the FTE units, employers can standardize salaries for part-time employees by measuring them against employees who work full-time.


Headhunting is a recruitment technique that involves identifying and approaching a suitable candidate who is currently employed elsewhere for a specific position.

Intake Meeting

An intake meeting is where the recruitment strategy will be discussed for the first time between the employer and the hiring manager or recruiter.

Job Hopper

In the modern workplace, job hopping has become more commonplace. Generally speaking, a job hopper is someone who habitually changes jobs every few years as a result of their own choice, and not being fired or being made redundant.

Job Requisition

A job requisition is the first step for departments who want to hire a new employee to replace another employee who has terminated their contract, or simply because there has been an increase in workload.


KSA is an acronym for Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. When reviewing candidate applications, KSA can be used as a form of measurement to assess how capable each candidate would be.

Lateral Job Transfer

A lateral job transfer is when you change jobs via a lateral, or sideways, move. This is becoming more commonplace as employees recognize that moving ‘up’ isn’t always the best way to progress in their career. Lateral job transfers can happen within an organization, or between organizations.


On-boarding is the process of bringing new staff on board in a new place of work. Where recruiting is the act of finding the right candidate, on-boarding is the process between awarding a candidate the job role and settling them in. Some companies find this process to be as long as two years.

Creating the perfect on-boarding plan can have a big impact on new employees and also reduce staff turnover.


On-target earnings, often referred to as OTE, are usually associated with sales jobs where commission or a bonus are available dependent on performance. When creating a job advert, many companies will include OTE to demonstrate how much an individual can earn; this incorporates basic pay plus the commission/bonus.

Passive Candidate

Where active candidates submit job applications, passive candidates are not actively seeking a new job and can therefore be headhunted.

Purple Squirrel

In recruitment, the term purple squirrel refers to the perfect candidate for a specific role. This is someone who can provide examples of the right types of qualifications and experience that the employer is looking for. With an increase in competition for top talent, a purple squirrel can also be used to refer to the unobtainable.

Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition is the ongoing process of attracting, sourcing, recruiting and then hiring employees.

Talent Pipeline

The term talent pipeline refers to a pool of candidates with the correct qualifications to be employed in specific job roles that have either been newly created or recently vacated as a result or promotion or retirement.

Talent Pool

A talent pool is a collection of candidate profiles that have the required qualifications and skills and are interested in working for your company.

Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are certain skills that are identified as being flexible. Also known as soft skills, these types of skills can be applied to one situation and then transferred to be applied to another.

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