The Complete glossary of recruitment terms & phrases

by Katie Sawyer, 19 minutes read
HOME blog the complete glossary of recruitment terms phrases

Finding good talent is hard. Especially in the retail sector and other industries where turnover is high and hourly workers make up the majority of the workforce.

To get around this, you’ll have to optimize your job ads with terms that make it clear you understand what you’re looking for in a candidate. If you need help getting started, take a look at the list of terms below.

And aside from optimizing your job ads with key terms, utilizing a Workforce Management platform like Deputy will also strengthen your business by bettering your efficiency and making work easier for your employees. Click on the link below to start your free trial to see for yourself why Deputy is the highest-rated workforce management platform by G2 Crowd.

Abandon rate:

In recruitment, the abandon rate is the number of applicants who begin the application
process but never click “submit” on the application, aka abandon the application

Ability test:

This is a test used by companies to discern whether a potential employee has the
logic, reasoning or other tested skill required to take on the job.

Active job searching:

An active job search involves an individual preparing a resume, searching for
openings at companies and sending in a resume to those companies. Then, if the
candidate is successful at this stage and gets an interview, the candidate prepares
and attends the interview.

Analytical thinking:

Analytical thinking is a type of thinking which uses logical reasoning and deduction to
discern the meaning of something or to solve a problem.


An applicant is an individual who applies for a job, by sending in their resume or by
other means.

Applicant files:

Applicant files include all the documents that an applicant submits when they apply for
a job. For example, applicant files could include an individual’s resume, personal
statement, a list of references etc.

Applicant flow data:

Applicant flow data is data about the applicant which should not be used in
consideration to whether or not they are employed by the hiring manager. This
includes an applicant’s: gender, race and religion. This sort of data helps companies
to monitor their diversity and level of inclusiveness.

Applicant pool:

The total number of applicants that applied for a particular job position.
Applicant tracking system (ATS):

Applicant Tracking Systems provide tools to companies which help them in the
recruiting process. Before an applicant’s files are viewed by a person at the company,
they will likely be examined by an applicant tracking system. These systems can
highlight the best candidates based on certain criteria.

Appointing officer:

An appointing officer is an employee within a company who is responsible for
selecting a candidate to fill a vacant job position.

Aptitude testing:

Similar to ability testing, aptitude testing tests an applicant’s ability to perform specific
tasks as well as discern how they respond to different situations.

Assessment center:

An assessment center is an extensive interview/assessment of candidates which can
involve aptitude and ability testing, as well as the completion of different exercises
which relate to the job.

Background check:

A background check is an investigation that a company conducts into a candidate’s
life, including whether they have a criminal record, as well as screening their social

Background screening/Pre-employment screening:

Background screening is a combination of two things; a background check (as defined
above) and a reference check.

Balanced scorecard:

This is a type of report which keeps track of the different tasks and responsibilities
that each employee within a company is responsible for and executes.

Ban the box:

This is a movement which aims to remove the checkbox which asks if an applicant
has a criminal record, to stop discrimination against ex-offenders.

Base wage rate:

This is the minimum fixed wage which an employee is entitled to receive from their

Behavioral competency:

Having behavioral competency means you have the necessary ability in areas
relating to teamwork, technical knowledge, people skills, etc. to be seen as a viable
candidate for a position.

Behavioral-based interview:

A behavioral interview is an interview which focuses on your previous responses to
situations inside and outside of work. These interviews help employers to estimate
how a candidate will react to work situations in the future and therefore whether the
candidate is suitable for the job.

Behavioral risk management:

This is the management of risk factors relating to the behavior of employees in the
workplace, particularly in relation to the negative impact these behavioral factors have
on the productivity of the company.

Benefits (benefits package):

Employee benefits include perks (aside from salary) that come with a position. This
can include: health insurance, dental cover and gym access. The perks an employee
receives is specific to the company and can differ based on an employee’s position
within the company.

Boolean search in recruitment:

This is an advanced search method whereby an individual can insert words such as
‘not’, ‘or’ & ‘and’ to make the search more specific. Employers can use this type of
search to quickly filter out candidates whose resumes don’t show all the necessary
criteria required for a position.

Career planning:

This involves an individual planning ahead for a career, including setting objectives
and goals, as well as enrolling on programs or courses, which will help to achieve
these career aspirations.


A candidate is a person who is being considered for a particular job position.

Candidate experience:

The candidate experience is the perception that the candidates have of their overall
experience throughout the recruiting process.

Candidate portal:

This is an online location provided by the company where applicants can submit
resumes, personal statements and other information, to apply for specific positions
or for future positions within a company.

Candidate-centric recruiting:

The candidate-centric method of recruiting puts the candidate first, focusing on the
candidates’ wants and needs rather than the employer’s; the aim is to build a good
relationship with the candidate, rather than simply fill a job position.

Career assessment test:

This is a test that individuals can take in order to find out what careers they might
enjoy and/or be successful in. The test comprises of a series of questions designed to
discern a person’s abilities, likes and dislikes and, resultantly, what career they might
be suited to.

Cognitive ability testing:

Cognitive ability testing is a type of testing that focuses on the intellectual aspects of
the individual which may help or hinder them in a particular position, including aptitude
testing, performance testing and timed assessments.


Compensation is given to an employee in exchange for that employee working for, or
providing a service to a company. This is just another way of saying ‘salary’ or

Compensatory time-off plan:

This is an alternative to paying employees overtime. Instead of employees being paid
for overtime, the extra hours they work are added to the amount of paid leave they are

Contingent staff:

Contingent staff are employees who work for a company temporarily; they can be
freelancers or temporary contract workers.

Core competencies:

Core competencies are core qualities (rather than qualifications) which affect your
suitability for a position. Different core competencies are desired by different
companies and include abilities such as, but are not limited to: decision making,
problem solving, people skills, the ability to work with others and having
writing/communication skills.


This is the average sum of money a company spends on acquiring a new employee.

Counter offer:

A counter offer is an offer which is made as an alternative to an offer which has
previously been made (for example, if that offer is rejected).

Cover letter:

A cover letter is a letter which summarizes the following documents, in a candidate’s
case this would be their resume. It may also contain an explanation as to why they
have decided to submit their resume and why they want to work at that particular

Defined benefit plan:

A defined benefit plan is a kind of pension plan, where the pension owed is a
specified amount, based on a fixed formula which takes into account an employee’s
length of service, age and earning history etc.

Direct hire:

This is where a specific candidate is offered a position directly by the company.

Direct placement:

This is a process which directly connects a potential employee with an employer.

DOE- Depends on Experience:

This is a stipulation which companies can attach to a job application instead of a fixed
salary; the salary a candidate is paid is dependent on how much experience the
candidate has in the field.


E-learning is simply learning, or furthering your education, online. This can include the
completion of online courses and gaining online qualifications.

Employee assessments:

These are assessments which aim to evaluate the performance of employees or
potential employees and which also help the company to identify ways to improve
employee engagement and productivity.

Employee referral program:

Employee referral programs allow companies to find new potential employees through
the recommendations of pre-existing employees.

Employer branding:

Employer branding involves cultivating a workplace identity separate from other
similar companies- an identity which employers can be sure will reach potential
candidates and which will hopefully make the company seem desirable to the

Employment agency:

An employment agency is a service which connects people looking for employment to
potential employers.

Employment history:

An individual’s employment history is a record of all the jobs a person has had, as well
as the periods in which they held those positions.

Entry-level job:

An entry level job usually requires no or little working experience in that field and is
usually the lowest position within a company or the first job you can hold after getting
a degree in a particular field.

Equal employment opportunity (EEO):

This is a program or movement to minimize discrimination based on gender, sexual
orientation, race, nationality etc. during the recruitment process.

Facebook recruiting:

This is a method of recruitment in which talent is recruited via Facebook, in both the
attract and engage stages of the hiring process.

Factor comparison:

A method of job evaluation which ranks a job based on factors including skill, mental
and physical effort required, the responsibilities that come with the job and the
working conditions.

Fixed term employment:

Fixed term employment is a type of temporary employment whereby there is either a
fixed date the employment period ends, or where there is a fixed event or specific task
completed which will signify the end of the employment period.

Flexible work arrangements:

Flexible work arrangements allow employees to alter their usual schedule, or work
hours they choose, as long as they keep on top of their responsibilities. Examples of
this include: an employee having leeway with regards to the days they work, as well
as what time they start and end work, as long as they complete the stipulated number
of hours in the contract.

Full life cycle recruiting:

This is, simply, a term used to describe the whole of the recruitment process. This
includes: the preparation stages, attracting applicants, screening applicants, choosing
which applicant will acquire the position and hiring them.

Full text search:

This is a search which, when entered into a database, search engine or document,
considers all the words of the search.

Full time equivalent:

This is a quantifiable unit which represents the workload of an employee so it can be
easily compared to other employees.

Functional job analysis:

Functional job analysis is a type of analysis which helps to gather information about
the job and the results of which can be used to produce a job description. Information
for this analysis is gathered on job-related factors including, math, data, worker
instructions, reasoning, and language.

Functional resume:

A functional resume focuses on an individual’s abilities, skills and qualifications, rather
than focusing on their job experience and career history.

Geographical differential:

Geographical differentials refer to the differences in salaries between individuals who
do the same job, or are employed in equivalent jobs, due to their different costs of
living, based on the location in which they live.

Group interview:

This is an interview in which there are multiple potential candidates present and who
are interviewed at the same time.

Hiring manager:

An individual within a company who is in charge of the hiring process in order to fill a
specific position. The position will typically be in the hiring manager’s department or

team and will likely have the most know-how with regards to picking a suitable

Hiring period:

The period between when the job is first offered to the candidate, to when the
candidate is completely settled into the job.

Hiring process:

The entire process that results in a vacant position being filled, from the stage in
which the need for a new employee is identified, to posting a job advertisement, to
screening candidates, interviewing candidates, offering the selected candidate a job,
hiring a candidate and onboarding that candidate.

HR analytics and data-driven recruiting:

These are recruitment methods which rely on data produced by Human Resources
technology in order to make decisions throughout the hiring process.

HR software:

This is software which allows HR tasks to be managed and automated.

Human capital management:

This is the management of the company’s human assets, aka the employees and
their combined knowledge, skills, and experiences.

Human Resource Information System (HRIS):

This is an HR system which is involved with the management of data related to the

Human resource outsourcing:

Human Resource outsourcing is the result of a decision that a company makes to
have human resource responsibilities transferred to a source outside of the company.
An independent business is responsible for all human resource related tasks and

Human resources:

This is the department within a company that is responsible for the company’s
workforce-related needs, such as hiring, managing and recruiting employees.

I-9 form:

The I-9 form, aka Employment Eligibility Verification, is a form required by U.S
companies as it proves your right to work in the U.S.

Inbound recruiting:

Inbound recruiting focuses on making the company attractive to potential candidates,
by creating content and using social media marketing to target talented candidates
and highlight the company’s competitive advantages.

Incentive pay:

Incentive pay is given as a reward by employers to employees for a certain level of
performance, such as making a certain number of sales. This kind of reward
incentivizes high-quality work or a high level of performance.

Independent contractor:

An independent contractor is an individual, or business, who provides a service or
completes a job for another individual or company, the conditions of which are
stipulated in a contract.

Individual employment agreement:

This agreement is a contract between the employer and the employee, whereby the
employee agrees to work for the figure stipulated in the contract.


Insourcing is the process of using individuals already hired within the company to fill a
certain position.

Internal recruiter:

An internal recruiter is an employee within a company whose job it is to try and fill
positions within the company from the company’s existing workforce, either by
promoting individuals or by conducting internal transfers.

Job advertisement:

This is an advertisement which a company posts, which aims to make a job vacancy
known to potential candidates, in order to fill a particular position.

Job analysis:

This is the analysis and collection of data which relates to the activities and
responsibilities associated with a particular job, as well as the attributes and
qualifications required of a candidate who fills this position.

Job board:

A job board is an online service which individuals can use to look for jobs and
employers can post advertisements to fill positions within their company.

Job classification:

Job classification involves classifying jobs based on the responsibilities, activities and
duties involved, as well as the level of authority that job gives an employee.

Job description:

A job description is a written description of the responsibilities and activities
associated with that job.

Job evaluation:

A job evaluation is an assessment of a particular job’s worth, in relation to the difficulty
of the job and the importance of the job to the company, in order to determine how
that job’s salary should compare to other jobs within the company.

Job hopper:

A job hopper is an individual who has a long list of previous employment situations,
none of which last for a significant period of time.

Job offer letter:

This is a letter which an employer sends to a candidate to inform them that they have
succeeded in securing the position should they choose to accept it.

Job requirements:

Job requirements are the requirements that need to be met by a candidate in order to
be deemed suitable for a job. Some examples of job requirements include: having
certain qualifications, having technical skills or specific knowledge, or being proficient
in a certain language.

Job requisition:

A job requisition is a form which the hiring manager fills out to request a new hire. It
involves an explanation of why a new employee is needed, as well as the job title and
how much it will cost to hire the new employee.

Job search engine:

A job search engine is a site that lists job vacancies, both from job boards and straight
from employers and which allows individuals looking for work to browse and apply for
these jobs.

Job seeker:

A job seeker is an individual who is looking for a job.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A key performance indicator is a certain factor which can be measured and which is
the designated indicator to rate the performance within a particular area of a

Knock-out question:

A knockout question is a question, asked in the earliest stages of the hiring process,
designed to ‘knock out’ candidates who do not have the necessary abilities,
qualifications or willingness to perform the roles required in the position.

Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO):

This is a type of outsourcing whereby companies reach out to individuals who are
extremely knowledgeable about a certain area. This is less costly than hiring an
individual with this specialized knowledge base full-time.


This is a commonly used acronym used by HR for Knowledge, Skills and Abilities.

Labor cost:

The total labor cost is the total cost associated with a company’s workforce, including
all the employees’ wages, benefits and insurance costs.

Labor law posting:

This is a law which requires employers to put up notices and posters which state
employee rights, in places which are frequently seen by employees.

Labor market:

The labor market is a location where employers can find employees and people
looking for work can find employers.

Labor turnover:

Labor turnover is the percentage of a company’s workforce that leaves the company
in the course of the year.

Mean wage:

This is the average wage paid to an employee in a specific position.

Median wage:

This is the amount which is directly in the middle of the highest and lowest wages paid
to employees in the same position.

Minimum wage:

This is the lowest wage that an employer can pay an employee legally.

Mobile recruiting:

This is a method of recruiting which focuses on the use of handheld devices, or a
mobile, to engage with possible candidates.

Mock interview:

This is a method of preparation which a candidate can use to prepare for an actual job
interview, by having someone pretend to interview them so that they can practice
answering questions.


This is a form of bargaining in which a compromise is ultimately struck between two
parties; with regards to recruitment, it is often the salary/benefits that are negotiated
between the employee and employer.

Non-compete agreement:

This is a contract in which an employee agrees not to go into competition with the
company based on the information and data they acquire during their employment at
the company.

Non-disclosure agreement:

This is a contract which prevents the bound individuals from sharing information about
the business of the other person.

Non-exempt employee:

This is a category of employee that is entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay, as
is stipulated in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Observation interview:

Observational interviews are conducted on existing employees while they perform
their day-to-day tasks and duties, to assess the effectiveness and productivity of the

On-the-spot interview:

This is a type of interview which occurs when an applicant applies for a job in person
and the employer opts to interview them straight away.


This is the process of integrating new employees into the work environment and
ensuring that they are comfortable and aware of their duties and roles.

On-target earnings (OTE):

On-target earnings refer to an employee’s wages, plus whatever bonus they are
assigned when they reach the stipulated target, such as a commission.

Open job interview:

This is a type of interview which is open to all interested applicants; all applicants can
submit their applications and be interviewed.

Outbound hiring:

Outbound hiring is a process which involves the hiring manager actively searching for
a candidate (usually from the company’s talent pool) and contacting them, rather than
letting candidates come to them.


Outsourcing is the method by which companies hire an individual outside of the
company to perform a task or complete a job. Companies outsource for tasks which
are finite and not core to the company’s continuous function.

Panel interview:

Panel interviews are interviews which are conducted by a panel of two or more

Passive candidate:

A passive candidate is a candidate who is not actively looking for a new job, but is still
considered to fill a position. A passive candidate is usually already employed by the
company and is being considered for a new position.

Passive job search:

Passive job searching is done by an individual who is not actively looking for jobs and
are usually already employed, but still browse job search engines for potential new
employment opportunities.

Personality tests/psychometric testing:

Personality tests and psychometric testing can be used to assess a candidate’s
personality and traits. This can help employers to learn more about a candidate and
whether their personality is complementary to the position available.

Phone screen:

This is a sort of screening process which occurs in the early stages of the hiring
process, usually after filtering out candidates based on their resumes. This is a short
phone interview to deduce whether a candidate could be suitable for a position. An
interview is usually offered to the candidate at the end of the phone interview (if the
phone screen is successful).


Pipelining refers to the process by which talented and qualified individuals are pooled
into a company’s talent community for positions which are currently filled.


Placement is the process by which the selected candidate is stationed into their
employment position. In this stage of the hiring process, the candidate is told about
their duties and responsibilities and is set to work. Orientation usually follows this


A questionnaire is a list of questions which an interviewer may use during a
candidate’s interview or (more uncommonly) a list of questions which a hiring
manager may give to a candidate to fill out themselves.

Recruiting metrics:

These are measurements which allow companies to analyze the recruitment process
and monitor hiring success, in order to improve the recruitment process and reap
better hiring results in the future.

Recruitment marketing:

Recruitment marketing’s purpose is to increase the reputation of the company as a
place of work and to make it more attractive to potential candidates through branding
and advertising.

Recruitment plan:

This is the overall strategy that a company uses to hire new employees.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO):

This refers to the method of recruitment whereby the company outsources to another
company to take care of the recruitment process.

Reference check:

This is the stage of the hiring process where an employer or hiring manager will
contact a candidates’ references to find out more about the candidate and their
reputation in previous employment situations.

Resume parsing:

Resume parsing is the process by which information from candidates’ resumes is
converted into a structured list of information which can be stored and analyzed by

Screening matrix:

A screening matrix is a tool which allows objective comparisons to be made between
candidates based on their qualifications and other factors.

Self-funded (self-insured) plan:

This is a plan in which employers, rather than paying for health insurance for an
employee, takes responsibility for their employees’ health and pays for their
healthcare personally if the employee requires it.

Skill set:

An individual’s skill set comprises of all their skills, abilities, qualifications and work

Skills gap:

A skills gap refers to the gap between the skills and qualifications required for a
position and the skills and qualifications a candidate actually has.

Social media background screening:

This is a type of screening where a candidate’s social media platforms are viewed by
the employer to look for problems, or qualities which might make them an unsuitable
candidate for a position.

Social recruiting:

This is a method of recruitment which focuses on using social media platforms to
attract potential candidates, eventually converting them into employees.


Sourcing is, simply, the process of searching for and identifying, individuals who meet
the required standards necessary to take on a position, in order to fill a particular

Sponsored job posting:

Companies use sponsored job posting to ensure that their job advertisement appears
at the top of a job board or job search engine in exchange for paying a premium to
these services.


Staffing is the process of attracting, selecting, hiring and maintaining relationships
with employees.

Stay interview:

This is a type of interview which is conducted with current employees, to gage their
views on the company, what makes them want to keep working for the company, as
well as whether anything could improve their working experience.

Strategic Human Resource Management:

Strategic human resource management is a method of workforce management which
focuses on retaining and rewarding current employees, as well as on attracting
outside talent to the workforce.

Talent acquisition:

Talent acquisition is the process by which talented, skilled individuals are hired into
the workforce, including the attracting and hiring stages of the process.

Talent community:

A talent community is a community that a company builds so that they can quickly fill
positions with suitable candidates if it becomes necessary. The community is usually
built from previous applicants who did not get the positions, but still impressed the
hiring manager

Talent intelligence:

Talent intelligence refers to the collection and analysis of data about the talent within
their company and also about the talent in rival companies.

Talent management:

This is the management of everything related to the workforce, which includes the hiring
process, ensuring employees are retained, and that the individuals within the
workforce are developed and improved as employees, throughout the course of their

Talent network:

Companies can offer individuals the option to join their talent pool via a talent network
if they are not ready to apply for positions within the company immediately, they can
be called upon for future positions.

Talent pipeline:

A company’s talent pipeline is a group of individuals made up of employees who are
eligible for promotion and external candidates within the company’s talent pool who
meet the requirements of the position and are available to fill that position.

Talent pool:

This is a group of people associated with a particular company who the company
considers to be potential future candidates.

Talent relationship management:

This is the process of creating and maintaining relationships with talent and potential

Time to fill:

This is the amount of time between when the initial job requisition was received and
when the chosen candidate accepted the job offer.

Time to hire:

The time to hire is the measure of time it takes for a company to choose and hire a

Total compensation:

This is the total package that companies give to employees, including money, benefits
and perks.

Total remuneration:

This is the total of everything the company provides to an employee over the course
of a year, including an employee’s basic salary, financial benefits such as incentive
pay and bonuses and non-monetary benefits such as gym memberships.

Training needs analysis:

This is the analysis of employee performance to observe whether employees require
training or further development.

Transferable skills:

Transferable skills are skills which can be useful for many different types of career, or
for different aspects of an individual’s life.

Turnover costs:

The turnover cost is the sum it costs a company to replace an employee.

Turnover rate:

This is the percentage of employees that leave a company over the course of a year.

Unstructured interview:

This is an interview in which there is no set format and the questions are not
predetermined. The interviewer may ask any questions that come to mind at the time.


A vacancy is a position within a company which is vacant and which requires a new
employee to fill the position.

Virtual HR:

Essentially, Virtual HR is the middle man that stands between employees and the
Human Resources department. It allows employees to type data directly into the HR
system, without having to deal personally with a member of the HR department, making
it time and cost effective.


Otherwise known as voluntary reduced worktime, this is an agreement in which an
employee undergoes a voluntary reduction of the hours they work, accompanied by a
proportional reduction in salary and benefits.

Work/life employee benefits:

These benefits are related to lifestyle and can include free childcare, gym memberships
and access to free counselling.

Workers compensation:

This is a type of insurance which compensates employees who are injured at work and
ensures they still receive their wages even if they have time off for the injury, as well as
paying for any medical bills associated with the injury.

Workforce planning:

Workforce planning is used to predict and analyze the present and future needs of the
company in relation to the workforce and ensure that those needs are met.

Work-life balance:

This is a concept in which a healthy balance is struck between how much time and
energy an individual spends on their work life versus their life outside of work. A good
work-life balance consists of a moderate amount of energy and time spent on both
aspects of a person’s life, in order to reduce stress and burnout and increase an
individual’s overall happiness.

Yield ratio:

This is the percentage of candidates that make it to the next stage of the hiring process.