Hiring Buzzwords Defined

Hiring Buzzwords Defined

Every culture has its own lingo. In addition to native language, there are buzzwords and lexicons that involve a kind of vernacular shorthand. Industries are ripe with acronyms, slang is rampant across cultures, and popular activities have their own vocabularies. 

In the human resource staffing industry, we have our own set of common terms that we use. Sometimes, we forget that our customers might not know that "agile" is not the same as "Agile" or that "TTP" holds little meaning for someone who hasn’t worked in a contract role before.

This article looks at some of the more common buzzwords in the hiring industry so that the next time you’re talking to a Recruiter or Sales Account Manager, you won’t miss a single word.

Filling a FTE HRO Role From the ATS

Staffing Agency Buzzwords

The first time you speak with a staffing professional, you might become hopelessly confused. If they start talking "TTH" or "TTP" or "FTE," you might not know how to respond at all. The first bit of advice to share is that it’s actually okay to ask your Account Manager to define an acronym.

When a Recruiter says, “I found your resume in our ATS,” don't panic. It just means they did a keyword search in their "applicant tracking system" and found that your qualifications fit the job they were trying to staff. See, you're smarter already!

Hiring Buzzwords Defined


Here are some of the more common buzzwords you’ll hear from a Recruiter or Hiring Manager:

Account Manager

In the hiring world, an Account Manager is the person assigned to handle all aspects of client relations between the company hiring and the business recruiting and filling the role. This Account Manager is your one-to-one point of contact and link between the client and agency team. Similar to an advertising agency account person, the "AM" along with their team acts as both the salesperson for the agency and the client's representative within the agency. Sometimes, Account Managers double as New Business Development Specialists as well. 


Agile is a methodology for managing projects. InfoWorld says agile was introduced in 2001 by 17 technology geeks as a way to help organize their work in software development. Within today's agile framework there are many types of defined user roles, metrics, and development practices. The methodology has moved beyond software to encompass other types of big projects in many industries. While there are many methodologies behind Agile, the basic idea is that there is planning, commitment to tasks, and daily accountability for making the work happen.

ATS, Applicant Tracking System

What is an applicant tracking system? An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that allows resumes to be handled and sorted electronically.

Modern resumes aren't just intended for Hiring Managers and Recruiters. Applicant tracking systems and other resume filters are used by many major companies to automatically match applicants to positions. In fact, so many companies use an ATS, that if your resume isn't optimized for them, it may never be seen by human eyes.

Contract Workers

A contract worker, contractor, or contingent worker is someone who works on a contractual basis instead of a yearly salary. For example, contract workers could be full-time employees for a short-term contract, say only for six months, OR they could be on an undefined long-term contract, but only for up to 20 hours per week. 

Contract workers are sometimes called freelancers, but they can be classified differently when it comes to taxes and employment law responsibilities, so make sure you check with HR and your CPA before hiring. For employers, having contract/contingent workers could mean a savings of time and money, because you generally don't have to train the worker, pay health benefits, or contribute to a 401(k).

Freelancer/Freelance Employee

What is a freelancer? A freelancer is a self-employed worker within the gig economy that works on per-project basis.

Typically, freelancers are 1099 contract employees, a tax designation that means they are self-employed and don't have their taxes taken out of their checks by their "employers." The benefit for employers is that these workers can be hired on-demand (one or many at a time) as the need arises. The benefit for employees is that they can choose the roles, durations, and clients they want to work with.

Get The "Hiring Freelancers" Guide




Gig Economy

The dictionary definition: A gig economy is a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs. Our current gig economy is due to side hustle, gig-style jobs becoming easier and easier to make money with. Think Uber, TaskRabbit, etc. 

Basically, this means that short-term or contract roles, not full-time jobs, are prevalent in the marketplace. Workers move through a variety of gigs, many times with none of the safety nets found in more traditional full-time roles, but much more flexibility.


HRO is human resource outsourcing, which according to HR Zone, “occurs when a business instructs an external supplier to take responsibility (and risk) for HR functions and performs these tasks for the business.”

Some businesses will outsource individual things like payroll, while others will outsource their entire HR department. Some businesses outsource time-consuming administrative tasks, which allows their internal resources to focus on the strategic level. Staffing agencies are a great resource for HRO  — ask us why


What does it mean when your boss starts talking about your KPIs? KPI stands for key performance indicator. It is a quantifiable unit of measurement that shows how well an individual, team, or company has performed tasks related to their goals.

In staffing, a KPI could be the number of candidate interviews conducted in a day. In sales, a KPI could track the number of closed deals. For a business, a KPI could track the number of daily online sales.


A sprint is a time interval within Agile (see above) that is characterized by a demonstration of what you’ve accomplished at the end of the interval. For example, in software development, a two-week sprint could include a demo to a client of what was worked on during that time frame.

Staffing Agency/Recruiting Firm

A staffing agency or recruiting firm serves businesses and employees by matching workers with jobs and employers with workers. Generally, a staffing agency is free for job seekers; companies hire these firms to help them fulfill a specific human resource need and pay a percentage of the hire to the staffing agency for their services. A professional staffing agency works for a company under a short- or long-term retainer to provide candidate sourcing, interviewing, and hiring. They can supplement an existing human resource team or serve as the sole hiring team for a small company. The best recruitment firms and staffing agencies specialize in a specific field; Artisan, for example, concentrates on finding the best employees in creative and digital trades.

Staffing Up

Staffing up is generally a good thing; it means companies are hiring or adding staff to fulfill current needs. When your Recruiter calls and says the company you’ve been dreaming about is staffing up, it’s time to do a handstand and submit your resume. Conversely, if a new department is created in a big corporation, the HR department might need help filling it with employees. 

Talent Manager

A Talent Manager is the same as a Recruiter. Talent Managers work at staffing agencies to provide full, part-time, or temporary workers to companies of all types. Talent Managers are Recruiters and Human Resource Professionals highly skilled at communicating with candidates and employers. 


These are both the same. They stand for temp-to-hire and temp-to-permanent (or temp-to-perm), which is essentially a “try it before you buy it” scenario for workers and employers. While this hire starts as a temporary employee, the employer has the possibility to hire them as an FTE (full-time equivalent) employee down the road. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably with "contract-to-hire" as well.


A unicorn is a hard-to-find candidate that perfectly matches all of the employer qualifications. Because unicorns don’t really exist, these employees are exceptionally hard to find. Another slang term that means the same thing is “purple squirrel.”

Need Help?

There are always acronyms in the staffing world, just like any other employment specialty. It’s easy to get confused, especially if you’ve never worked with a recruiting agency before — but don't worry, we're here to help!

Contact Artisan Talent if you’re seeking your next contract, gig, or FTE opportunity. And if you're an employer seeking unicorns — we’ve got those, too!

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