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At some point in almost every person’s career, they will encounter, or engage a recruiter to either help with their job search or find them a candidate.

Let’s face it, we don’t always speak the same language! Like in any industry, recruitment has its own terms and lingo that can occasionally be confusing.

But no longer! Let’s go through and decipher what your recruiter is actually saying to you.





We have some pretty fancy names for candidates sometimes – here’s what they mean.


Active Candidate: is a candidate that is actively and proactively searching for a new role. Perhaps they applied to a job ad, put through a phone call or just emailed through their CV. No matter how they applied, they are ready to move to a new opportunity.

Passive Candidate: is a candidate who isn’t actively looking for a new job but is open to hearing about interesting roles that match their criteria of the “perfect job”. These are usually headhunts or candidates that are tapped on the shoulder by a recruiter.

Applicant Pool: refers to the range of candidates both active and passive that have applied for / are in the running for a specific job.

A Chopper / Job Hopper: is a candidate that rarely stays put for any length of time. These candidates can still be excellent employees but are often considered ‘high risk’ for employers who don’t want to pay a recruiter for someone who will leave after a few months.

Purple Squirrel, Golden Unicorn or Blue White Diamond: are terms that refer to when you find the perfect candidate for a job. As the names suggest, these candidates are usually very rare / difficult to find as they have an exact match of experience, education, attitude, cultural fit and so on.



Types of Recruiters


Executive Search: is a recruiter that typically only deals with high-end, C-level jobs (CEO, CTO, CFO, COO etc). They are generally paid a percentage of the final fee up front and rely heavily on networking / known contacts.

Talent Acquisition: are recruiters that are employed by a company as an in-house specialist recruiter. They only recruit for the company they are hired for.

Generalist Recruiter: is a recruiter that finds candidates for a wide variety of roles, generally unrelated to any specific industry. They usually can also be known as “Client Managers” as they have a specific amount of clients whose needs they service.

Specialist Recruiter: is a recruiter that looks for people within specific industries and sub-categories. They immerse their skills hunting only for certain types of candidates with the same background / skill set.

Permanent Recruiter: recruits for permanent, full-time positions.

Temp Recruiter: recruits for temporary, short-term engagements.

In-House Contractor: is a recruiter that works for an external agency, but has been engaged on a contract basis by a specific company to recruit solely for their needs.

Headhunters: are recruiters that get acquire their candidates through solely tapping people on the shoulder.



Other Terminology


Sourcing: refers to the process by which recruiters locate ideal candidates and can include advertising, headhunting, social media, networking and so on.

Social Recruitment: refers to the use of social media networks and technology to find talent. This can include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Reddit or any other social media platform.

Placement: refers to the successful hire of a recruiter’s candidate by their client company.

Direct Hire: is when a client company hires a candidate through their own means rather than through the services of a recruiter.

Direct Application: is when a candidate has already applied to the client company prior to applying to the recruiter.

Introduction: is the period by which after a recruiter has forwarded a candidate’s details to their client company that they remain responsible for the management of that candidate. In most industries, the accepted period of introduction is 12 months. In this time, the recruitment agency is owed a fee if the candidate is engaged.

Double Introduction: refers to the messy process when two competing recruitment agencies represent the same candidate to the same client. The general rule of representation goes to the agency that sends across the candidate first.


Have you come across any other terminology you would like deciphered? Feel free to get in touch!