Recruiter Talk: What We Say, and What We REALLY Mean

Each week I listen and speak with Recruiting Pros who have a language all their own – like most professions – but for me it’s always fun to listen to what each person is really trying to say to you.

Here are some of my favorite:

  • Offer Pending: What it means – “I’m going to make an offer to an individual.” What it really means – “I didn’t pre-close the candidate, so I don’t know if they’ll accept” or, “I made them the offer but they haven’t accepted, and I don’t want you to know that, yet.”
  • Professional references: What it means – “References from those who have supervised you in a previous job.” What it really means – “Those references that you gave me, who are your father’s best friend, your girlfriend’s dad, and your 7th grade basketball coach – don’t count. We don’t trust they will give us a true insight to how lazy you really are.” Or, “my boss feels better about your previous boss telling us how great you are versus your priest telling us how great you are.”
  • Market offer: What it means – “We combed through salary survey data to determine what the going salary should be for your position, in this geographic area.” What it really means – “We did our budgets 16 months ago and didn’t anticipate the market moving so fast for this position, so here’s what we can afford to offer you.”
  • Excellent benefits package: What it means – “We offer a wide array of benefit options, which are paid in full by us, and you will not have to worry about anything.” What it really means – “We offer the same kind of benefit package as everyone else – virtually – but saying we offer a “benefit package the same as everyone else” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “excellent benefits package.”
  • An “A” candidate: What it means – “This candidate is top level talent in the industry, with the reputation and references to back up their experience.” What it really means – “This is the best person (or only person) we could find to accept your marginal pay rate, crappy location, and bad company culture.”
  • Niche recruiter: What it means – “The recruiter-only networks and recruits for a specific skill set, and/or industry.” What it really means – “You think you need someone who specifically networks and recruits only for what you are looking for, but the reality is a great recruiter can find you anyone you need regardless of skill/industry – but it makes you feel better if we tell you we have that specific niche. So we are ‘niched.’ ”

I blame marketing for all of this! No one can just say what is really on their mind anymore – it’s not “P.C.”

Instead, we “dance” with each other and tell each other what we want to hear – and we leave with this wonderful false sense of security that everything is fine. And you know what? It usually is – about 99 percent of the time.

That’s the problem. It’s that 1 percent of the time that you need a true partner who is going to tell you “what does this really mean?” instead of “tell me what I really want to hear.” It’s what gets talent and HR Pros in trouble!

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When in doubt – speak the truth.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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