Expert job search advice.

Common Recruiter Terminology Explained

Recruiter terminology can be confusing. As a job seeker, it’s helpful to understand the language of recruiters. We broke down some of the most common industry words and explained why they should matter to you.

As with most industries, recruiters have a language all their own, filled with terminology that is hard for an outsider to understand. If you are going through the job application process or have an open profile on most any job search platform, you may have had recruiters in your inbox from time to time. Even if you haven’t considered a position similar to what they are hiring for, these people are identifying key skills within your resume that would be ideal for the company’s goals moving forward. It can be fun to hop on a call with a recruiter to understand how they see you fitting into a role, and what it could mean for your future. But first, you have to understand some of their lingo.

Common Recruiter Terminology

Let’s talk about some common recruiter terminology and why these terms matter to your job search.

1. “Sourcing Candidates”

Candidate sourcing is defined as (a recruiter) identifying a candidate for a target job. It emphasizes searching for qualified people over waiting for them to apply for a position. Often, recruiter and talent acquisition teams will hire candidates who are responsible for researching and identifying people with the necessary skills and experience for an opening that is – or is about to be – available.

Interested in being “sourced”? You need to make it easy for the recruiter to find you on LinkedIn!

How can you help facilitate this? Make sure that you are using the right keywords in your online profiles and portfolio.

What would a recruiter search for to find someone like you? Don’t waste precious headline space with irrelevant phrases or descriptions. Like coffee? Me too. (Who doesn’t?) It just isn’t an ideal statement for your header. Much like using a target job description to write your resume, it can also prove valuable for identifying keywords for your LinkedIn About section.

Recruiters also source candidates in industry-relevant groups. It was common 10 years ago for a recruiter to post a job description on an industry association job board like an “Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP)” when sourcing for a niche position, but in the digital age, a recruiter is more likely to find candidates in the “dark social.” As of late, this could include Slack channels, Reddit forums, LinkedIn comments, etc

2: “Blind Screening”

“Blind Screening” is a fairly new concept where key candidate information such as name and gender are eliminated as applications are screened. Some ATS systems – or software programs that manage the hiring and onboarding processes – can remove identifying information from a hiring manager. LinkedIn actually has a blind screening process where recruiting teams can choose which details to leave out.

LinkedIn has blind screening where the recruiter could deselect pictures and names to search based on a boolean. It is not even ATS, which was a surprise for me, it gave me an option. Loved the preventative control on the bias.

Sweta Regmi, CCS, CRS, founder of Teachndo

Blind hiring has been used to reduce bias against job candidates during the hiring process.

This is such an integral role within the hiring process that LinkedIn Recruiter recently added a blinded profile matching option to help recruiters fulfill their hiring needs and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

3. “Req”

“Req” (pronounced wreck) is a recruiter term short for requisition and refers to the job posting. A lot of job seekers are surprised to learn that most internal corporate recruiters have “req loads” of 25-60 positions at a time. Each of these open positions likely attracts 100+ candidates. These candidates are coming in organically through word of mouth, as well as through whatever channels the job opportunity is posted to. Nowadays, you could be filtering applications and recommendations from Twitter, job boards, internal inquiries, postings on the company’s website, personal social media, physically mailed resume copies, and elsewhere. Keeping a spreadsheet of where each job listing exists or using a central system where everything gets forwarded can help a recruiter track their reqs and remember to take down all postings when optimal candidates (“purple squirrels” or “unicorns”) have been identified.  

Appropriate requisition loads depend on the type of candidate you are targeting and the goals the company wants said candidate to work toward within the organization. If you think about it, at any time, a recruiter is managing a portfolio of 250-600+ job seeker applicants. The sheer amount of applicants alone could add time to the process, so patience is key. (But be sure to inquire about the expected timeline for the hiring process, if you get the chance!)  

4. “Time to Fill”

“Time to Fill” is a key performance indicator (KPI) for recruiters & organizations that essentially measures the number of days between the publication of a job & getting an offer accepted. The average time to fill for new graduate roles is approximately 43 days.

Typically, when a position gets posted, the recruiter spends the first 2-4 weeks publicizing the job and screening candidates. The next 3-5 weeks are spent interviewing candidates, and in the final 6-7 weeks, the recruiter checks references, performs background checks & administers any assessments before making an offer.

Forty-three days is the AVERAGE for a new graduate hire. For harder-to-fill or managerial positions, that number can be much higher, but may not be as much of a factor. 

Why does this number matter? If you are being rejected from positions, consider the timing of your application. If you applied 37 days after the position was posted, it’s likely they are well into the interview process. If the organization is still actively recruiting after the average time to fill KPI, as a candidate, you may want to question if they are being unrealistic about their expectations. There could also be internal red flags.

Sometimes it’s just simply bad timing…. you applied after the hiring manager interviewed three candidates and they need to close out the req.

Happening upon other recruiter terminology and phrases, you may not be familiar with? Reach out! I’d be happy to discuss their meaning and how these terms may apply to your particular career trajectory.




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