Charting the Course: A Glossary for Modern Executive Recruitment

Table of Contents

    Active Candidate

    An active candidate refers to an individual who is currently searching for job opportunities. Unlike passive candidates, they actively send out resumes, apply for positions, and usually have updated profiles on job platforms. The motivating factors could be unemployment, job dissatisfaction, or a quest for career advancement. 

    Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

    An active candidate refers to an individual who is currently searching for job opportunities. Unlike passive candidates, they actively send out resumes, apply for positions, and usually have updated profiles on job platforms. The motivating factors could be unemployment, job dissatisfaction, or a quest for career advancement. 

    Background Check

    Like pre-employment screening, a background check delves into a candidate’s history. It verifies details such as criminal records, credit history, education, past employment, and sometimes even references. 

    Behavioral Interview

    A behavioral interview is a technique wherein candidates are asked to provide past examples of their experiences relevant to the job. This method operates on the belief that past behavior is the best indicator of future performance. Interviewers seek concrete instances where the candidate has demonstrated qualities, skills, or responses that are pertinent to the potential role. 

    Blind Hiring

    Blind hiring is an innovative recruitment approach aimed at minimizing biases. During the process, all identifying details like names, ages, genders, and often educational backgrounds are removed from resumes and applications. The main objective is to assess candidates purely on skills and experiences which promote workforce diversity. 

    Candidate Experience

    This refers to the perception and feelings a job seeker holds regarding an organization’s job application process. It encompasses everything from job posting clarity to the communication frequency from recruiters, and even the interview process itself. A positive candidate experience can bolster an organization’s reputation, encouraging top talent to apply, while a negative one can deter potential employees. 


    Compensation encompasses the entirety of benefits and monetary rewards that an employee receives in exchange for their services to an organization. This includes not just the basic salary but also bonuses, allowances, health benefits, retirement benefits, stock options, and other perks.

    Contingency Search Model

    This recruitment model is commonly employed for mid-level positions. Firms following this model aren’t hired exclusively and they operate under the premise of speed, aiming to quickly provide resumes. They earn their fees only when the candidate they have presented is hired; it is generally a fraction of the candidate’s first-year salary. 

    Cultural Fit

    Cultural fit evaluates how well a candidate’s values, beliefs, and behaviors align with the existing culture of the hiring organization. This aspect is critical because candidates who resonate with the company’s culture tend to be more productive, content, and likely to remain longer with the company.

    Delimited or Engaged Search Model

    Delimited/Engaged Search Model is a form of high-end executive search that requires an up-front fee and is refundable if the recruiter fails to achieve a hire or other deliverable specified in the contract. It is a hybrid of both Contingent and Retained Searches, where a percentage of the fee is paid upfront, and the rest is paid upon completion of the search. Engaged recruitment is a relationship between the client and recruiter based on a mutually agreed-upon need to expedite the hiring process. 

    Employee Engagement

    This entails gauging the degree of enthusiasm, commitment, and emotional connection employees have with their roles and the organization. Highly engaged employees are often more productive, loyal, and drive better business outcomes. 

    Executive Search

    This refers to specialized recruitment services tailored for sourcing candidates for high-level positions like executives, senior management, and other key roles. Due to the strategic importance and visibility of these roles, executive search processes often involve in-depth candidate assessments, background checks, and targeted headhunting. 

    Flexible Work Arrangements

    These are non-traditional working schedules or setups that veer away from the standard nine-to-five, on-site paradigm. Examples include telecommuting, compressed workweeks, job sharing, or flexible daily hours. Such arrangements aim to accommodate diverse employee needs and promote work-life balance. 

    Four-Phase Executive Search Model

    This structured recruitment model is tailored for high-profile roles and consists of the following: Discovery and Planning (understanding client needs), Sourcing and Recruitment (finding the right candidates), Guiding Interviews and Negotiating Offers (ensuring both parties come to agreeable terms), and Candidate Integration (ensuring the selected candidate assimilates well into the company). Each phase is crucial to guarantee the best fit and smooth transition. 

    Hiring Manager

    This is typically an individual within an organization responsible for recruiting new employees for specific roles or departments. They handle tasks like crafting job descriptions, conducting interviews, and making the final hiring decision. 

    Human Resources (HR)

    This is a department within an organization focused on employee-related activities. It manages various aspects, from recruitment, benefits administration, training, employee relations, to ensuring compliance with labor laws.

    Internal Candidate

    This is an existing employee within a company who applies for a new role or position, typically a promotion or lateral move. They have the advantage of familiarity with the company’s operations and culture. 

    Job Analysis

    This systematic process involves identifying and detailing a job’s duties, requirements, and responsibilities. It serves as a foundation for creating job descriptions, setting salary levels, and ensuring appropriate recruitment strategies.

    Job Offer

    This is a formal proposal presented by an employer to a candidate selected for a position. It often outlines the terms of employment, including salary, benefits, job responsibilities, and other pertinent details. 

    Job Posting

    This is an announcement made by employers, usually publicly, indicating an open position and inviting candidates to apply. It contains details about the job role, qualifications needed, and sometimes the compensation package.

    Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

    These are specific and measurable metrics used by businesses to track and assess their performance against strategic goals. For HR, KPIs might include metrics like time to hire, employee turnover rates, or employee engagement scores. 

    Leadership Development

    This is an organized approach aimed at expanding the capabilities and competencies of individuals to perform in leadership roles. It encompasses training programs, workshops, mentorship, and other initiatives to mold future leaders. 


    This is a developmental relationship wherein a more experienced individual, the mentor, offers guidance, advice, and support to a less experienced mentee. It’s a platform for sharing knowledge, skills, and insights. 

    Non-compete Agreement

    This is a contractual agreement between an employer and an employee, preventing the latter from entering into competition with the employer during or after employment. It restricts the employee from working for competitors or starting a competing business for a specified duration and within a particular geographic region. 

    Passive Candidate

    Unlike active candidates, passive candidates aren’t actively seeking new job opportunities. However, they might be open to considering a compelling offer. Companies often approach passive candidates believing they are top performers in their current roles.

    Performance Appraisal

    This is a systematic evaluation process where an employee’s job performance is assessed, typically annually. It often involves feedback on accomplishments, areas for improvement, and setting objectives for the coming year. 

    Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

    A PIP is a formal document used by companies to outline areas where an employee’s performance isn’t meeting expected standards. It provides specific guidelines and milestones for improvement, often including a set timeline. Failing to meet the terms of a PIP may lead to further disciplinary action, including potential termination. 

    Phone Screen

    Often an initial step in the hiring process, a phone screen is a brief interview conducted over the phone to gauge a candidate’s interest, qualifications, and potential cultural fit. It’s a way to determine whether the candidate should be invited for a more in-depth, in-person interview. 

    Pre-employment Screening

    This is a due diligence step in the hiring process. Employers verify a candidate’s background, education, work history, and sometimes even conduct drug tests and health screenings. The aim is to ensure that the potential employee is a safe and reliable fit for the organization.


    At its core, recruitment is the act of attracting, selecting, and hiring suitable candidates (either from within or outside of an organization) for job openings. It’s a vital function of the human resource management process. 

    Recruitment Marketing

    This strategy combines marketing principles with recruitment practices to attract top talent. It involves promoting a company’s culture, mission, and values and can be done through various channels like social media, employer branding campaigns, and job fairs. 

    Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

    RPO is when an organization transfer all or part of its recruitment processes to an external provider. RPO providers manage the recruiting/hiring process from job profiling through onboarding of the new hire, including staff, technology, and reporting. 

    Retained Search Model

    Typically used for senior-level executive roles, retained search firms work on an exclusive contract for their clients. They offer a deep dive into candidate sourcing, often researching and headhunting potential hires, ensuring a match not just in skills but in company culture and values.

    Screening Interview​

    This preliminary interview step helps recruiters determine if a candidate meets the basic requirements for a job role. It filters out candidates who aren’t a fit, ensuring that only the most suitable candidates move forward in the interview process. 


    This proactive recruitment technique involves identifying and reaching out to potential candidates who might not have applied for a job yet. This can be done through various means, including online databases, professional networks, or internal referrals. 

    Talent Acquisition

    More strategic than mere recruitment, talent acquisition looks at long-term human resources planning. It aims to find specialists, leaders, and future executives for a company. The process can involve understanding current and future hiring needs, employer branding, and using sophisticated recruitment methods.

    Talent Management

    This holistic approach focuses on optimizing an employee’s lifecycle. From hiring to training, development, and retention strategies, talent management ensures that an organization can attract and retain the best talent available.


    In HR terms, turnover refers to the number or percentage of employees who leave an organization and are then replaced by new employees. High turnover can be costly for employers due to the costs of hiring, training, and the lost productivity associated with employee transition. 

    Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

    In the context of recruitment, a USP refers to the unique qualities that make a company stand out as an attractive employer. It could be anything from unique benefits, company culture, career development opportunities, or innovative projects. 

    Video Interview

    Leveraging technology in the recruitment process, a video interview is where candidates are interviewed remotely using video conferencing tools. It’s especially useful for the initial stages of hiring or when candidates are in different geographical areas. 

    Workforce Planning

    This strategic approach in human resources involves analyzing and forecasting the talent a company needs to achieve its goals. It looks at current workforce composition, needs, and how gaps will be addressed.

    Workplace Culture

    This encapsulates the values, beliefs, behaviors, and the overall environment within a company. It’s the “feel” or the intangible qualities that dictate how employees interact and how work gets done.

    Workforce Diversity

    This looks at the representation of different groups within an organization. It’s an acknowledgment and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion among employees. 

    Workforce Analytics

    This data-driven approach in HR involves using statistical methods and software to analyze employee data. The insights derived help in decision-making processes, from recruitment strategies to talent management and retention efforts. 

    Workforce Management

    This is an overarching strategy to get the right number of people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right time. It encompasses recruitment, workforce analytics, training, and succession planning. 

    Workforce Development

    Aimed at equipping employees with the skills and knowledge they need to excel, workforce development might include on-the-job training, mentorship programs, workshops, and courses.