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A quick guide to recruitment lingo

Felicia van der Merwe
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I remember when I started working as a Talent Acquisition Specialist, at It’s About People, and how hard it was to learn all the new terminologies that come with this industry! I also had to understand these new words which was tough as I had come from a very non corporate background where I could not even read or understand my own payslip! If I look back now on my two year recruitment career, I can’t believe how much I have learnt and grown. I am now even the salary expert on our team.

I thought let me write a blog for the new comers into the recruitment industry and to refresh some of the established recruiter’s memories. This blog will also assist our clients and candidates so that they can understand our “recruitment lingo”.

Different type of recruiters:
• Head Hunter - Focuses on searching for qualified or technically skilled candidates for senior and technical positions. They usually approach the candidates who may not be actively looking for a new position and market them at their companies.
• Niche/Specialised Recruiter - Operates solely within a specific field eg: IT, engineering.
• Generalist Recruiter – Offers recruitment services across multiple industries.
• Independent Recruiter - A recruiter who works on their own (as opposed to being employed by an agency) offering their recruitment services to clients.
• In-house/Internal Recruiter – Recruiter that recruits for only one business and usually forms part of their HR Team.

Candidates:
• Active Candidate - Refers to candidates who are actively looking for a new position. Their CVs are on their local career portals and they are actively working with agencies.
• Passive Candidate – These candidates are not on the lookout for a new opportunity, but if they are contacted and opportunity is a great one, they might explore it.
• Applicant Pool – We use this to describe the pool of candidates that apply for a position or are interested in a position.
• Job Hopper – Refers to candidate who doesn’t stay at one job for a long time and move every few months.

Recruitment Lingo:
• Compensation/Salary - The amount of money (not including benefits) the employee will receive at the end of the month. This could be based on a Monthly or Hourly rate.
• CTC – Cost to Company, the total package inclusive of benefits.
• Benefits/Perks - These are the non-cash incentives that are provided over and above the salary for example, car allowance, fuel card, meal allowance, medical aid.
• Nett Salary – Amount that enters your bank account after all deductions.
• OTE - On Target Earnings, commonly seen in sales-related positions, this is the estimated amount an employee will receive if they meet all their targets and qualify for commission.
• PSL – Preferred Supplier List, where a company has selected agencies that can assist with their recruitment needs.
• Referral Fee - Current employees or candidates are offered a sum of money for referring a candidate, who then accepts a position and successfully completes their probation period.
• Poaching - Refers to ‘stealing’ an employee directly from a company.
• Hiring/Line Manager – Manager responsible for interviewing and hiring new staff.
• Referees - Individuals (previous managers) willing to provide personal testimonials around a candidate’s skills, behaviours and past performance in the working environment.
• Counter Offer – When employee resigns and their current employer offers them similar or greater package than their new company.
• Offer Letter - The documentation formally confirming the offer of the position to the preferred candidate.

These terminologies are the key words used in our industry. If you uncertain about anything - Google will be your best friend for a while until you are comfortable with the positions and the industry that you recruit for.
To new recruiters who recently joined the recruitment industry – good luck! You have chosen a very exciting career. I hope that this information will assist with you settling in and finding your feet quickly! I wish you lots of successful placements and large commission pay outs!


Felicia's desire to provide a service to people was evident from an early age when she completed her training as a hairstylist. For many years Felicia derived great satisfaction from liaising with a multitude of personalities and using her skills to enhance her client's image.

With this inherent need to assist people, coupled with wanting to build a business career Felicia joined Its About People following an intense training programme. At Its About People Felicia says that she can change more than a client's hairstyle, she can change their lives so if you are top talent looking for a new opportunity, she looks forward to changing yours!


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