Recruitment terminology: Defining those key words

Have you ever been in a meeting in which people keep throwing around an acronym, and you have no idea what it means? As the meeting goes on, it seems like you’ve left it far too long to ask. Post-meeting, you take to Google to try and work out what on earth everyone was talking about.

If you don’t work in recruitment day-to-day, the technical jargon used by people working in the field can become a bit of a headache. Those of us who work in recruitment can be guilty of throwing terms around and forgetting that people outside of the industry are unfamiliar with a lot of what we talk about.

So, we’ve defined some of the terms that we use regularly. Feel free to use this as a reference tool whenever you end up stuck in a meeting. Or, read up and prepare yourself ahead of time so that when you nod and smile at certain references, you actually mean it!


Simply put, RPO stands for Recruitment Process Outsourcing. This means outsourcing your recruitment processes. It really is what it sounds like.

The confusion around RPO often comes from a lack of understanding about the need for organisations to outsource their recruitment processes. Why would an external agency need to take on internal processes?

However, RPO can be used in a variety of circumstances, most notably when companies have a need to scale and their internal resources are not extensive enough for the job. As such, RPO’s are recruitment partnerships. The right RPO partner will improve an organisation’s recruitment processes overall, rather than merely making hires.

Employee Value Proposition

Your Employee Value Proposition is like your Employer Brand. However, it is directed towards your current employees and tends to be summarised with a statement. Essentially, your EVP is a promise. It states what you as an employer will offer your employees, and what you expect in return.

A strong EVP can transform your culture and, in turn, influence your employer brand. However, it must be truthful. An EVP should hold you to account. As we all know, false promises to employees can result in disengaged and demotivated employees. However, an EVP that holds your company to account can give your employees a sense of purpose and increase retention rates.

Talent Mapping

Organisations who utilise talent mapping think ahead so that they are prepared for the future. As such, talent mapping can be seen as a plan for growth.

During talent mapping, companies map out future vacancies, and recruiters scour the market to create a map of talent who could potentially take on specific roles. Planning your recruitment strategy so far in advance can lead to much more strategic hiring and, as a result, more long term hires.

Talent Pool

A talent pool refers to a network of potential talent. As recruiters reach out to so many people daily, they will inevitably build up an extensive network of connections within their particular field. So, if you’re working with a specialised tech recruiter, they are likely to have a large number of potential candidates they’ve reached out to and connected with previously.

This can be one of the many benefits of using specialised recruiters to fill your roles. Having access to a talent pool can significantly shorten your time-to-hire and result in more quality hires, thereby increasing retention rates. So, creating or having access to talent pools can be an invaluable resource.

Succession Planning

Talent Mapping can also benefit your current employees if they have the potential to be considered for more senior roles. Planning to fill future positions can give them an aim and knowledge that if they stay with your company for the long term, they will see the benefits.

Preparing and training your current employees to fill eventual roles is called succession planning and can ensure your future vacancies are filled internally.Succession planning can also include developing staff to fill in skills shortages, as well as identifying and developing future leaders of tomorrow.

Employer Brand

We suspect that this is one a lot of non-recruiters think they understand, but, deep down, are still a little confused by. This is because your Employer Brand is something you talk about, but it doesn’t have a physical representation. As such, it can be challenging to surmise, and a lot of conversation around Employer Branding ends up being metaphorical.

Ultimately, your Employer Branding is who you are as an employer. It’s your company’s personality. As a result, it gets interchanged with the word culture a lot because together, your employer brand and internal culture make up your environment. It’s who you are, how you do things, and communicates to candidates why they should apply to be a part of your business. 

As a result, your employer brand can be hard to define and difficult to measure. However, as we know, personality is everything.

Executive Search

The process of recruiting individuals for senior-level roles is often called headhunting, and is, in recruitment terms, known as executive search or, sometimes, retained search. This process is usually undertaken by specialist recruiters who are skilled in seeking out highly experienced talent, using a combination of sourcing techniques and in-depth interviews to identify the right candidate for a role.

If you have any queries about other recruitment terms you’ve heard, feel free to contact us at Otherwise, you can find out more about RPO in our RPO eBook.