Recruitment jargon you’ve heard (but might not understand)

recruitment jargon

Whether you’re a small business making your first hires or a manager with new hiring responsibilities, the world of recruitment can be a little overwhelming. Especially when you’re hearing recruitment jargon and buzzwords you don’t recognize – but maybe don’t want to admit it.

We polled our colleagues and customers to compile a list of recruitment and hiring words that could use some explaining.

Here are 13 examples of recruitment jargon you’ve probably heard (but might not understand):

ATS (applicant tracking system)

This is software used by companies to process job applications, track candidates and organize the hiring process.

Company culture

This refers to a company’s collective values, mission, ethics, code of conduct…essentially its personality. Culture will differ depending on the nature of the company and the employees themselves, but it’s increasingly something that seekers want to know about in detail before they will even apply to a job.

Contingent workforce

This refers to workers that are hired on an on-demand basis (as opposed to full-time permanent employees). This might include freelancers, contract workers, temporary employees, or consultants.

Employer brand

Also known as employer reputation, branding refers to the value proposition that a company offers to its current and future employees. This might include company perks, mission, mandate, culture, and many other factors.

Hidden job market 

This refers to the fact that only a small percentage of job openings (from five to 40 per cent) are posted online or advertised in any way. The rest of the openings are filled through networking, referrals, or other methods.

Intake meeting

An intake meeting takes place before a job posting is written. It’s essentially a chance for the hiring manager and other stakeholders to discuss the details of the role being filled, and define the real responsibilities, tasks, and objectives of the role.

ITA (intent to apply)

This metric is sometimes used when monitoring job posting performance. It is used when a seeker clicks to apply for a job, but doesn’t complete the application – or moves to an external site like a company career page to apply so we don’t know for sure if they completed the process.

NOC (National Occupational Classification) Coding

This is Canada’s official job classification system. Jobs are grouped together based on duties and work details. There are 10 broad categories, all of which are further subdivided into major groups, minor groups, and units.


Employee onboarding covers off everything you do to welcome a new hire and help them thrive at your company. It’s more than basic training – although that’s part of the onboarding process. It starts the moment a candidate accepts your job offer, and can last weeks or even months.

Resume database

Many job sites give seekers the opportunity to submit their resume to a searchable database (Workopolis has nearly two million resumes in its database!). Hirers can then search the database to engage with qualified seekers before they even apply to the role.

Soft skills

Professionalism, work ethic, and self confidence are a few examples of the hard-to-measure skills employers are increasingly looking for in candidates. They’re essentially personal attributes – as opposed to more quantifiable “hard” skills like language proficiency or programming certification.

Talent network

A talent network is essentially a way for seekers to stay up- to-date on your career opportunities: they provide their contact info, or submit their resume to a general inbox, to be notified when relevant openings pop up.

Transferable skills

These skills might not be directly related to the job a candidate is applying to, but can be indirectly considered an asset. They often go hand-in-hand with soft skills, but could also be something like budget management that could transcend a number of different industries and applications.

See also:
5 free manager tools you can start using today
A brief introduction to job slots


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– Follow Workopolis_Hire on Twitter
– Listen to Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast
– Post a job on Workopolis no


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