My favourite recruitment catch phrases

Recruitment lends itself as well to catchphrases as any other other industry. On my travels through the industry I have worked with some very creative individuals who have a beautiful knack of summing up a situation or person with a few well chosen words. I have also worked with others that have developed what seems like an entirely different language and make little sense unless you have the appropriate translation phrase book.


Regardless, what I have found is that a good catchphrase can go a long way to adding a bit of humour to what is a serious and often stressful job.


There must be thousands, and one could probably put together an entirely alternative Thesaurus based around recruitment. Here are just a small selection of some of my favourites and the appropriate translation (with apologies for some choice language).


Whose who in the zoo:

The process of mapping a market sector or company for headhunting purposes.


Teflon vacancy / client:

A vacancy or client that is so awkward you will never make a candidate stick.


Chuck enough mud at the wall, hope some sticks:

The numbers game approach of sending lots of unqualified candidates to a client in the desperate hope that one of them is successful.


Beatles shortlist:

When you have 4 excellent candidates to shortlist for a vacancy (as in 'Fab 4'). In more recent times this has been amended to the 'TakeThat shortlist'.


Stocking filler:

An average candidate that you submit just to make up the numbers on a shortlist.


Shit Sandwich Shortlist (or TripleS):

Similar to above, when you put an average candidate in the middle of the shortlist to hide them as best as possible.


Paris Hilton:

A candidate that initially looks OK but it very quickly becomes clear when you talk to them that there is no substance (can also be known by many other names).


Bird shit placement:

A lucky placement that comes from no where.



Acronym to describe a placement that once looked very positive but has gone very wrong (F****d up beyond all recognition).


Can't polish a t**d:

The impossible process of trying to make a poor candidate sound good.


The Bridesmaid:

A candidate that often gets to the final stages but never gets an offer.



 I would love to hear of others that are in use.....

Views: 12957

Comment by Derek Wirgau on July 11, 2011 at 11:06am
One of our firms favorite is a "Purple Squirrel". This is that job order the client gives that has requirements that seldom exist together if at all. This is not for the badly written job order, just that odd job that a company has. We had a client that wanted a local candidate that had experience configuring and implementing a particular software that was only on the market for less than 2 years. After 7 months we did find this person in their price range. That was a PURPLE SQUIRREL.
Comment by Karen Rehn on July 11, 2011 at 11:07am
Keep this coming, love this stuff, I almost busted a gut laughing...we do have some interest lingo!
Comment by Beth on July 11, 2011 at 12:16pm

At the firm I used to work for, we had several Iris'.  Iris had been an AWESOME temp receptionist, who only accepted assignments with phone duties - nothing more.  After we all familiarized ourself with her requirements, we began calling similar temps "Iris" i.e. - "This assignment calls for an Iris." 
I'm sure a LOT of agencies use a similar version of this one.  :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 11, 2011 at 1:03pm

We refer to the over talkitive candidate as one of those "Oxygen Suckers".  They talk so much that the oxygen is gone thus making one's eyes roll back in one's head and one's ears slam shut.


The HR types who are so full of "buzz words" are referred to as "jargonators."  Along with a job order that is nothing but HRspeak is referred to as a jargonated regurgitation signfying nothing or a "jargonation".

@Beth We use WW to identify those cute little sales girls who are found in profusion in pharma sales.  WW stands for "Wink and Wiggle".


At one point in time we had a client in the O&G industry ask us for a tax guy who had three years experience in Third tier recovery tax experience.  The only problem was that the third tier taxation rules and regs had ony been in force for two years so nobody on the planet had three years experience.  I loved it when i got to tell them it would take us a year to fill that job.  The internal recruiter who wrote the job order decided he would need to find another recruiter who could fill it quicker.  I agreed with him (with a straight face) and wished him well.  When he called me back a week later he was indignant that i had not mentioned to him that the regs had only been in force for two years.  Would i miss a chance to let a fool make a fool of himself, uh nope.  We now refer to those kind of deals as a "Third Tier" request.

Comment by Melissa Zentgraf on July 11, 2011 at 3:44pm
@Sandra: I see "Third Tier" requests all the time in IT. Drives me guano crazy.

I call the "mud" candidates Spaghetti. I also use that term for the first person I submit on a new req because it's just as much of a test for me to see if I really got what the client was after.

Here's one we just came up with: boomerang. Candidate that takes a counter from their current employer. Had TWO of those last week. :(
Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on July 11, 2011 at 4:11pm

Hi - I enjoyed this post, I would add:


Seagull Manager - the hiring manager that flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps all over everything, and then flies away.


Spray & Stick Sourcing - sourcers who think quantity is a good substitute for quality, so they spray out as many candidates as they can find & hope one of them sticks. This is similar to the "post & pray" recruiting method used in some corporate environments. Both were very popular in the 90's.


Also, you might enjoy this article on John Sumser's HRExaminer site  about the "buzzword parade" that talks about the overuse of buzzwords in HR Technology marketing

Comment by Karen Rehn on July 11, 2011 at 4:45pm
OMG you guys have left me laughing all day with these phases...too funny
Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on July 11, 2011 at 6:25pm
create your own new catch-phrases here - next time you need to "facilitate transparent partnerships"
Comment by Luke Collard on July 11, 2011 at 7:46pm
There is now a Twitter thread on this subject with the hashtag #recphrases -add your funny catch phrases there as well. Interested to see how many are out there ?
Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on July 11, 2011 at 10:25pm
ps - re the "bird shit placement" we used to call this a "blue bird" as in the blue bird of happiness just flew in the window.


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