Recruitpedia: The Language of Recruiting

June 29, 2015

Most professions have a language of their own, and recruiting is no different. Each week, I spend a lot of time listening to and speaking with recruiting pros. For me, it's always fun to dissect what each person is really trying to say. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Offer pending

What it means: "I'm going to make an offer to an individual.”

What it really means: "I didn't pre-close the candidate, so I don't know if they'll accept," or "I made them the offer, but they haven't accepted and I don't want you to know that...yet."

2. Candidate experience

What it means: “We want to treat candidates as well as we treat our customers.”

What it really means: “We don’t like to pick up the phone and do actual recruiting, so we focus on stuff like this to fill our days.”

The reality is, candidates have very low expectations. Just keep them informed and treat them like you would want to be treated. Simple!

3. Professional references

What it means: "References from those who have supervised you in a previous job.”

What it really means: "Those references that you gave me, who are your father's best friend, your girlfriends dad and your 7th grade basketball coach, don't count. We don't trust they will give us true insight into how lazy you really are." Or, "my boss feels better about your previous boss telling us how great you are...versus your priest telling us how great you are."

4. Market offer

What it means:"We combed through salary survey data to determine what the going salary should be for your position in this geographic area."

What it really means: "We did our budgets 16 months ago and didn't anticipate the market moving so fast for this position, so here's what we can afford to offer you."

5. Excellent benefits package

What it means: "We offer a wide array of benefits options, which are paid in full by us and you won't have to worry about anything."

What it really means: "We offer the same kind of benefits package as everyone else, but saying we offer a "Benefits Package The Same As Everyone Else" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Excellent Benefits Package.”

6. An "A" candidate

What it means: "This candidate is top level talent in the industry, with the reputation and references to back up their experience."

What it really means: "This is the best person (or only person) we could find to accept your marginal pay rate, crummy location, and bad company culture."

7. Niche recruiter

What it means:"The recruiter only networks and recruits for a specific skill set and/or industry."

What it really means: "You think you need someone who specifically networks and recruits only for what you are looking for. The reality is a great recruiter can find you anyone you need, regardless of skill/industry. But, it makes you feel better if we tell you we have that specific niche. So we are "Niched."

Final thought

These days, no one can just say what's really on their mind - it's not "P.C." Instead we "dance" with each other and tell each other what we want to hear, and we leave with this wonderful false sense of security that everything is fine. And you know what, it usually is about 99% of the time.

That's the problem. It's that 1% of the time that you need a true partner who is going to tell you, "what this really means," instead of "tell me what I really want to hear." This is what gets Talent and HR Pros in trouble. When in doubt, speak the truth.


Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources, an IT and Engineering staffing firm headquartered in Michigan. He is also a popular writer in the HR and Talent space, and highly sought after public speaker. Schedule a hug at

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