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What is Recruitment? A Glossary of Common Recruiting Terms

Hiring the right people is critical for any company’s ongoing success, but the process can become overwhelming and time consuming. When ready to turn to an outside organization for support, deciphering staffing industry jargon can be like learning a new language. Below we provide a quick glossary of terms to help you determine the best option for your company. 


When most people think of traditional recruiting, full-time, permanent roles come to mind; however, the use of alternative arrangements and contract employees is on the rise (think the ‘Gig Economy’). Below are the most common hiring types. 

Temporary Staffing
Temporary staffing agencies provide employees for short-term assignments. This is ideal when a new project arises or you require a certain skill set for a designated period of time (such as the holiday season) that does not justify a new full-time position. Temporary employees are typically included on the staffing organization's payroll.

Some recruitment agencies will source and recruit for contract-to-hire roles. The contract-to-hire scenario allows both the employee and the hiring company to test that the candidate is a good match before the role becomes permanent. The typical contract period is about three months, and you may choose to let the contract expire if the candidate is not the right fit. It’s important to note that not all candidates are willing to leave a stable job for a riskier contract-to-hire scenario.  

Direct (Permanent) Hire
Direct hires are for permanent, full-time positions with company benefits. Hiring a recruitment firm for a direct hire is ideal for unexpected vacancies, when the internal team lacks the time or resources to fill the role or when the role is proving difficult to fill. The recruiting firm will be involved during the initial sourcing, recruiting and hiring process, with the employee being added to the client’s payroll once an offer is accepted. 


Recruiting also comes in different shapes and sizes to accommodate your varying candidate needs.  Here are the standard types of recruitment offerings:

Contingent Recruitment
With contingent recruitment more than one company competes to fill an open position for your company. The contingency organization collects a fee only if your company hires their candidate. Contingent recruitment can be attractive to businesses due to the low initial investment; however, the placement fees are typically more expensive, and contingent recruiters are unlikely to take on hard-to-fill roles. Since the contingent recruiter is financially motivated, the focus may tend toward candidate quantity over quality. 

Retained Recruitment
Retained recruiting firms have an exclusive contract with the hiring company, and the company often pays an upfront fee (whether a candidate is hired or not).  Retained recruiters have a more strategic relationship with your company, and together you’ll develop a candidate profile and sourcing plan. Qualified candidates are presented to your company on an ongoing basis until your company makes a hire. Retained recruitment is commonly used by companies with several open positions, when a position is challenging to fill or when candidate quality is paramount. 

Executive Search
The primary difference between retained search and executive search is that executive search focuses on the senior-most candidates for upper management/C-suite roles and also board directors—roles that have the highest level of impact on the firm. Executive search firms work on fewer roles at a time, making this type of individual search the costliest. 

Managed Service Provider 
A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is an outsourced company that manages their clients’ temporary staffing programs. MSPs provide a small team of recruiters or coordinators who manage all the requirements to ensure a smooth operation. This team will use a vendor management system (VMS), which is a technical platform, to run the program. Typically large organizations that hire thousands of contractors and hundreds of staffing agencies hire Managed Service Providers. 

Recruitment Process Outsourcing  
Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) agencies manage an organization’s permanent recruiting efforts enterprise wide, within a specific department or for a specific short-term project (such as hiring sales people for a new product launch).  RPO recruiters become part of your company; they are an extension of your team and may even sit onsite at your company’s offices. The RPO team takes ownership of the design and execution of the recruitment process with an eye toward constant improvement of and responsibility for the results. Companies of all sizes turn to RPO solutions for the scalability, flexibility and best practice dissemination they provide. 

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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Operating around the globe, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be. 

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