How to “Speak Recruiter” 101

A quick google search for “recruiter near me” will probably yield a confusing hodge-podge of results. Some recruiters call themselves staffing agencies, some recruiting firms, and some even refer to themselves as headhunters. If you are already struggling to figure out how to hire quality employees, you probably have no time to decipher what all of that means. Here is a quick guide to some common recruiting terms that can help you find a recruiting partner:

  • Executive Search Firm
  • Recruitment Agency
  • Staffing Agency
  • Interim Management
  • Retained Search
  • Contingent Search
  • Contained Search
  • RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing)
  • Screen
  • Sourcing
  • Passive Candidate
  • Active Candidate
  • Recruitment Marketing

Executive Search Firm

These companies focus on finding candidates for senior-level or specialized positions. They often source passive candidates. They are sometimes also referred to as headhunters

Recruitment Agency

Recruitment agencies generally handle lower to mid-level positions that have a larger pool of active candidates.

Staffing Agency

These agencies provide companies with temporary entry-level workers. Generally, the staffing agency pays the workers’ hourly wages.

Interim Management

Interim management involves a company contracting an experienced manager or executive to step into a leadership role for a specific situation (mergers, ownership changes, crisis management, etc). This is often confused with “temporary staffing” which generally refers to entry-level roles.

Retained Search

In a retained search (also called an engaged search), employers pay an upfront engagement fee for a recruiter to handle the search exclusively. The retained recruiter in turn provides a focused and comprehensive service (background checks, talent assessments, extended replacement guarantees, etc). A retained search agreement is often used for senior-level positions. A retained recruiter is also sometimes referred to as a headhunter.

Contingent Search

In a contingent search, an employer is free to recruit on their own or use as many search firms as they like. Contingent recruiters only collect a fee if their candidate is hired. This is generally only used to fill generic lower-level positions where speed is the most important factor.

Contained Search

A contained search is a hybrid of contingent and retained searches. An employer still has the option to hire their own candidates, but a portion of the fee is paid upfront. However, the remainder is only paid if the recruiter’s candidate is hired.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

This recruiting model involves a third party recruiter that handles a company’s entire recruitment process for all current and future needs. Essentially, an external firm operates as the employer’s sole recruiting department.


Before submitting any candidate to a client company for formal interviewing, recruiters must assess a candidate’s viability with a phone screen. Screens consist of clarifying resume information, gathering extra information, and assessing a candidate’s interest in a particular opportunity.


During sourcing, recruiters actively reach out to potential candidates for a particular role through databases, social media, networking, or even educational institutions.

Passive Candidate

A passive candidate is a professional who is not actively seeking out new opportunities before being approached by a recruiter. They are often valuable assets to their current company and less likely to job hop.

Active Candidate

An active candidate is searching for and applying to jobs on their own. They are often applying to multiple opportunities at once but are ready to start quickly.

Recruitment Marketing

An umbrella term to describe communications used to generate awareness and attract talent to an employer, not just a single opportunity. This can include email newsletters, social media content, or paid advertising.

Find a Hospitality Partner to Help you Hire

Regardless of what type of recruiter you use, you will need a partner that will look out for your company’s best interests. The hospitality recruiters at Horizon Hospitality can find the right hospitality talent for your company. Contact us to learn how we can create a recruiting solution specifically for your company’s needs.



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