Executive Search Glossary

Executive search is a type of headhunting which focuses on recruitment of highly specialized candidates (senior-level, executive, and C-suite) within a particular field. We have put together a thorough Executive Search Glossary dedicated to the healthcare industry. If you are thinking of working with a healthcare search firm to find the perfect candidate to fill a vacancy, or if you are a candidate looking to work with an executive search firm, these terms will help you familiarize yourself with industry lingo.

Healthcare Executive Search Glossary

401(k) Plan

401(k) plans are employer-sponsored retirement plans which allow employees to put off taxes as they save for retirement by placing before-tax dollars directly into investment accounts.



Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is a group of laws and guidelines that are meant to stop and correct discrimination in hiring in regards to race, race, ethnicity, disabilities, military background, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and/or gender.

Age Discrimination

The act of discriminating against someone due to his or her age.

American Staffing Association (ASA)

The American Staffing Association (ASA) promotes the interests of the industry through “legal
and legislative advocacy, public relations, education, and the establishment of high standards of
ethical conduct.”


Individuals who apply for jobs either directly at a company or through recruitment agencies and executive search firms.

Applicant Pool

An applicant pool is the total number of people who have applied for a position.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Applicant tracking systems, (also known as ATS) are pieces of software that are used by recruiters and executive search firms to manage candidates throughout the recruiting process.

Appointing Officer

Appointing officers are chosen by the board of director of a company and run its day-to-day operations. They are often part of the process of choosing a candidate to fill a vacancy. Appointing officers usually include a president, a treasurer or chief financial officer, and/or a secretary.


Background Check

A background check is a review of a person’s criminal and occasionally financial records. Background checks are used by employers to judge a candidate’s hireability, character, and fitness for the position. Background checks now often include a deep dive into Social Media accounts.

Base Wage Rate

This is simply the compensation an employee will receive in exchange for services. It is usually looked at as the monthly salary or hourly wage paid for a job, not including benefits, bonuses, raises or overtime.

Behavioral-Based Interview

This type of interview is meant to deduce if a candidate is qualified for a vacancy based on past behavior and performance. The candidate will be asked to give specific examples from past work experience to act as evidence of his or her successes.


Benefits are programs that employers offer employees in addition to the base wage rate. Benefits packages can include health insurance, vacations, and bonuses.

Blended Workforce

A workforce comprised of traditional full-time, part-time, temporary employees as well as independent contractors and interim talent.

Boutique Search Firm

An executive search firm that utilizes a white glove service model.

Branding Strategy

An employer branding strategy is usually put together in tandem with an executive search firm. It is utilized to make the employer look more appealing to high level talent.




Any applicant for a vacant position who has been pre-qualified.

Career Assessment Test

Career assessment tests allow applicants to understand how his or her current career, educational and professional training, accomplishments will assist with career advancement.

Career Summary

Career summaries are parts of resumes or Curriculum Vitæs which include an overview of experience, skills, and accomplishments geared to the position the applicant is applying to.

C-Level Positions

C-level jobs are executive or highly skilled positions including, but not limited to CEO, CIO, and CTO. C-level jobs are top-level jobs.

Character Reference

Personal or character references are provided by someone who has in-depth knowledge of the candidate  and can testify to their character and abilities.

Combination Resume

Combination resumes list skills and experience first, followed by employment history. All items are listed in chronological order.

Company Culture

Think of Company Culture as the personality of the company. It tells potential hires what working with the organization will be like including business values, routines, work environment, management structure, branding, and objectives.


This is the money awarded as pay structure to an employee or contractor.

Compensation & Benefits Intelligence

Compensation & Benefits Intelligence research is carried out in order to learn how your organization compares to similar organizations when it comes to paying structure and benefits.

Contingency Recruiting (Contingency Placement)

Contingency agencies are paid when the candidate presented is hired by the employer.

Contract Recruiter

Contract recruiters (also known as contingency recruiters or headhunters) work on a contract basis.

Core Competencies

The strengths and advantages of an organization.

Corporate Recruiter

A corporate recruiter (also known as HR Recruiters or professionals in Talent Acquisition), works exclusively for one company.


Evaluates the average costs incurred in recruiting and hiring new employees. Typically, the equation is total recruitment costs divided by the total number of new hires. Components of this measurement include relocation costs, job board fees, interviewing expenses, referral bonuses, recruitment staff compensation, skills assessment, and pre-employment screening.

Counter Offer

An offer made in response to a salary offer from an employer.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a document sent with a resume to provide additional information on skills and


Direct Placement

The bringing together of a job seeker and a prospective employer for the purpose of a
permanent employment relationship.


The collective mixture of differences within an organization, including values, beliefs,
experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors.


Occurs when a company permanently reduces its workforce.


Elevator Speech

An elevator speech (also called an elevator pitch) is a quick synopsis of one’s background, skills and experience.

Emotional Intelligence

Coined by Daniel Goleman, Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability of an individual to understand, assess, and manage his or her own emotions and the emotions of others.

Employee Referral

A candidate recommendation for a position from an internal employee within the organization.

Employee Retention

Practices intended to generate a work environment that makes employees want to stay with the organization, reducing turnover.

Employment Agency

An employment agency finds employment or jobs for individuals who are seeking employment.

Employee Engagement

A measurement of an employee’s emotional attachment to his position, coworkers, and the

Employment History

Employment history includes all the companies the applicant has worked for, job titles, the dates
of employment and (sometimes) salary earned at each job.

Employee Turnover

Turnover is the term applied to the cycle of hiring and firing that happens within an organization.
A company is said to have high employee turnover rates when their employees routinely leave or
are fired, resulting in the need to hire again.

Entry Level Job

An entry-level job is a position that does not require experience. Often filled by recent graduates.
Training is typically provided by the company for such a position.

Executive Recruiter

Recruiting professionals who focus on filling executive positions within companies in a variety of

Executive Search

An agency used by employers to assist them with the selection and placement of candidates for
high-level professional positions.

Exit Interview

An exit interview is a meeting between an employee who has resigned or been fired and the
company’s Human Resources department to discuss the outcome of the employee’s situation.


Fixed Term Employment

Fixed term employment is when an employee agrees to work for a fixed amount of time, such as
until a specified end date or at the completion of a project.

Functional Resume

A functional resume focuses on skills and experience rather than chronological work history.


Glass Ceiling

A glass ceiling is an invisible barrier that prevents qualified employees from advancing in their

Generation I

The term used to describe children born after 1994 who are growing up in a technologically
advanced era or “Internet Age.”

Generation X

The term used to describe individuals born between 1965 and 1980.

Group Interview

Takes place when a candidate is interviewed by more than one interviewer at the same time or a
group of candidates is interviewed at the same time by a hiring manager.



A headhunter is an employment agency or individual that recruits qualified candidates for
various positions.

Hiring Manager

An individual responsible for making a specific hiring decision for an organization, usually within
their division. Often times this person is the future employee’s direct superior.

Hiring Period

The hiring period typically begins when an employer offers a job to a candidate and lasts until the new employee has adjusted to the new role.

Hiring Process

This process has three key segments: planning, recruitment, and employee selection.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is one in which unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other characteristics interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating or offensive environment.

Human Capital Management

Human Capital Management refers to the challenge of recruiting and retaining qualified candidates and
assisting new employees to adjust to an organization. The major facets of human capital management
typically include Recruitment, Compensation, Training, and Benefits.

Human Resources

The division of an organization dedicated to its employees, including benefits, advising,
communicating responsibilities, and training of staff.



Insourcing is when a company fills a position with someone already employed within the organization.

Interim Leadership

Interim leaders work to fill C-suite and executive positions on a nonpermanent basis while a permanent leader is found.

Internal Recruiter

An internal recruiter works in the human resources department of a specific company.


An interview is designed to conclude whether a job applicant is suitable for an open position of employment within a particular organization.




Job Analysis

The process of putting together information and data about the prerequisites and skills needed for a position. The job analysis is used to create a job description.

Job Board

An online tool that displays up-to-date job openings in a variety of industries. These usually allow candidates to apply for these jobs.

Job Description

A written statement explaining the responsibilities, skills needed, and qualifications for a particular job opening.

Job Offer Letter

A formal document created and sent by an employer to an applicant selected for employment.

Job Posting

A job posting is used to recruit candidates for an open vacancy within an organization. This document includes descriptions of duties associated with the position, qualifications required of the applicant, screening methods and terms and conditions of employment.

Job Requirements

Job requirements are clearly defined requirements that demonstrate the employment needs for a particular position within an organization.

Job Search Engine

Job search engines assemble job listings from multiple sites, including job boards, company websites, and associations.



Keywords are terms that are relevant to the position being searched.



Labor Cost

The total costs associated with a single employee. This includes wages, benefits, taxes, and insurance.

Letter of Inquiry

A ‘letter of inquiry’ or ‘letter of interest’ is sent to organizations that could be hiring but have not listed job openings.


LinkedIn is a social networking website geared towards professionals. It is used by recruiters to find candidates for vacancies.


Maternity Leave Cover

Leave of absence an organization gives an employee for the purpose of having a baby.

Military Recruiter

This type of recruiter specializes in finding candidates with military experience.

Minimum Wage

The minimum amount of compensation employers must pay their employees by law.


Mock Interview

A mock interview is a simulation of an actual job interview, often used in preparation. These are often used by executive search firms to prepare candidates.


Non-Compete Agreement

A non-compete agreement is a contract between an employee and an employer. In this case, the employee or contractor agrees not to enter into competition with the employer.




Use of an outside business services vendor or contractor to perform tasks previously staffed and supervised by the company.


Passive Candidate

This is a qualified candidate who is not currently looking for employment but could be interested if the right opportunity comes along.


Placements occur when an executive firm finds a qualified job seeker and an employer agrees to hire that candidate.

Pre-employment screening

Pre-employment screening includes background verification, drug screening, and behavioral assessment.


Recommendation Letter

Recommendation letters are written by previous employers or other professional colleagues to recommend an individual according to his or her skills as they relate to a potential position.


Recruitment is the process of finding and hiring qualified talent for an open vacancy. It is also referred to as recruiting, talent acquisition, or hiring.

Recruitment Plan

A recruitment plan is a identifies the goals for a particular position and often includes (but is not limited to) the recruitment announcement, recruiting timeline, advertising plan, interview schedule, assessment tools (such as questionnaires), background checks, interview plans, and references.

Recruitment Timeline

A recruitment timeline is an outline of a schedule including estimated dates for each step and deadline of the recruitment process.


A recruiter is an individual who helps identify, attract, and place talent for organizations.

Reference Check

A reference check is when an employer contacts an applicant’s previous employers and professional references to learn more about an applicant’s job history and qualifications.

Resignation Letter

A resignation letter is a letter formally notifying an employer that the employee is leaving his or her position.

Resignation Notice

Resignation notice is the act of notifying an employer that the employee is going to leave his or her position.

Retained Search Firm

A retained search firm is a type of agency that has an exclusive relationship with an organization or employer. They are responsible for conducting searched for senior-level talent.

Retention Strategy

Employee retention strategies are put in place by employers to increase employee happiness and reduce turnover.



Screening Matrix

A screening matrix is a tool that provides a summary of candidates and their qualifications. It is a tool that assists in determining which candidates should proceed through the final interview process.

Social Recruiting

The process of identifying talent through the use of social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Job seekers also use strategy to find employment.


The identification and uncovering of candidates through various proactive recruiting techniques and strategies. This search for talent is the initial step in any recruiting process.


The process of identifying, evaluating, and establishing a reliable workforce for an organization.

Strategic Planning

The process of analyzing an organization’s outlook, and creating a hiring strategy centered around future plans and aspirations.

Succession Planning

The process of analyzing and identifying long-term needs and creating and training internal talent to meet those future needs.

Summary Plan Description

A document explaining an employer’s benefit or contribution plan, including eligibility requirements, contribution formulas, benefit calculations, distribution options, participation, coverage and employee rights.

Supplemental Staffing

Temporary talent a company may need to supplement the workforce for special projects or worker absences. This is often times filled by interim talent.



Individuals who have the necessary skills to be considered for a specified position within an organization.


Talent Management

Also known as Human Capital Management, is the process of finding, managing, assessing,
developing and maintaining talent within an organization.

Talent Pipeline

A steady stream of qualified talent to be nurtured and maintained by an employer for current and future hiring needs and vacancies.



A measure of the time it takes to fill a vacancy at an organization. It is typically measured from the moment the job request is submitted to the time the new employee is officially hired.


A measure of the employees lost and gained over a given time period.

Talent Acquisition

The process of identifying, attracting, and acquiring talent.


Talent Management Software

Talent management software is used to recruit, screen, hire, track, and manage job applicants.



When an employee’s job ends. Termination can be voluntary or involuntary.

Two Weeks’ Notice

The standard time given prior to resigning from a job.



An unoccupied position within an organization.

Veteran’s Preferences

Veteran’s preference laws provide qualified veterans of the US Armed Forces preference under certain situations when applying for employment.

Voluntary Benefits

Voluntary benefits are paid for by the employee through payroll deductions. A few examples include life insurance, dental, vision, disability, auto, and homeowners insurance.



Work Experience

The professional record of a job applicant.