Recruiter Top 10: HR and Recruiting Buzzwords That Actually Matter

Welcome to Top 10,'s weekly rundown of the best of the best in recruiting! Every Friday, we release a list of some of our favorite people, things, and ideas dominating the industry. From awesome tech tools and cool companies to great books and powerful trends, no stone in the recruiting space will be left unturned.

This Week: Top 10 Recruiting and HR Buzzwords

Generally speaking, buzzwords are seen as a bad thing – all style, no substance.

However, we believe that some buzzwords can actually have positive impacts on an industry. They can introduce us to new concepts, or they can remind us to focus on ideas we'd forgotten about.

We asked the experts about their favorite buzzwords that have changed the HR and recruiting space for the better. Here are their answers:

1. Artificial Intelligence

Although this term/concept has been around for a long time, it's just now starting to build up some significant steam in HR and recruiting. Artificial intelligence will allow for massive automation across most industries; one could only imagine the impact it will have on recruiting. Early examples that are already catching on quite well for recruiting are bots and chatbots. These are computer programs designed to simulate intelligent conversation with one or more humans.

— Dan Cohen, Director of Sales,

2. Rightsourcing

This is a great buzzword because it indicates that thought is required when deciding how to recruit. "Insourcing" or "outsourcing" is too vague a choice. "Rightsourcing" hints at a conscious evaluation of all options and choosing the right decision for your company on each hiring occasion.

– Jason Lavis, Marketing Director, Natural Resource Professionals Limited

3. Data-Driven Recruiting

I believe that the concepts of "data-driven recruitment" and "people analytics" have been invaluable in empowering recruiters to embrace the data mindset that has transformed other departments, such as finance, marketing, and sales.

Similar to marketing and sales, recruitment has traditionally been considered a people-driven function where trusting your instincts was the accepted default. However, as advances in software have enabled businesses to collect more data more easily, sales and marketing departments have been able to use data-driven insights to both verify and disconfirm beliefs that were based on their guts feelings. These data-driven insights have empowered sales and marketing departments to become more strategic, efficient, and competitive, and they have allowed these departments to quantitatively prove their ROI.

Recruitment is currently undergoing the same data-driven transformation. Recruitment has always been a data-heavy function, but the concepts of data-driven recruitment and people analytics are changing the data-collection mindset into a data-insight mindset that believes this data can be leveraged strategically. For example, people analytics software now makes it possible to easily correlate pre-hire data (e.g., resume scores) with post-hire data (e.g., performance scores, turnover rates), which strategically aligns the recruitment function with business outcomes (e.g., increased revenue, lowered costs).

— Ji-A Min, Head Data Scientist,

4. People

Buzzwords are semantics with impact. And yes, semantics matter, especially when it comes to attracting and motivating top talent.

Words like "talent" and "analytics" have crept into the everyday lingo of recruiters, and that's for the better. The best buzzword shift for the recruiting and human resources community, however, has been the evolution from the phrase "human resources" to the word "people." "Human resources" implied a subordinate – different from and subject to management – whereas the word "people" connotes true importance and unique individual contribution. It's positive to put people first, to put people over problems, or technology, or the bottom line. "Resources" seem dispensable, whereas "people" conveys a feeling of centrality and purpose.

— James Celentano, Founder, EnterGain LLC

5. Employer Value Proposition

This buzzword educates employers in their own lingo, since the words "value proposition" have been around since the late '80s. Almost everyone takes the term "value proposition" seriously because it conveys a strategy.

Employers still touting their "greatness" as a key reason for prospective employees to join the firm aren't going to stand out. However, "employer value proposition" implies that thoughtful, deliberate, and meaningful language is necessary for recruiting. It encourages employers to carefully craft messages that resonate with the types of candidates they want to hire.

— Sonja Hastings, Sales Recruiter, Optimal Sales Search

6. Millennials

One of the most important buzzwords in recruiting for me is "millennial." This generation has been changing the working world and corporate America for a while now. Flexible works schedules, working from home, unlimited vacation time, and other benefits – millennials are bringing all these things to the minds of employers everywhere. As more and more millennials join the workforce, I believe we'll see even more changes.

— Jen Teague, Staffing and Onboarding Coach, Jen Teague, LLC

7. Thinking Outside the Box

Every company should value someone who is creative!

Fine, "thinking outside of the box" is a cheesy way to say it, but no one teaches people how to write resumes, so how can you fault them for trying? If someone really does constantly think outside of the box, I might want them on my team!

— Christy Hopkins, Human Resources Staff Writer, Fit Small Business

8. Candidate Experience

This is all about making the hiring process as seamless as possible for candidates – not frustrating. By being responsive to candidates and providing quick feedback, we're able to accelerate hiring and increase acceptance rates significantly.

— Laura Yip, Cofounder and Chief People Officer, Storm8

9. Work-Life Integration

Though we've used the term for decades, "work-life balance" is losing its luster. People are realizing that achieving "balance" – or complete equality between the personal and professional spheres of life – is less realistic than acknowledging that work and life are integrated.

In light of this shift, flexibility is a huge motivator for talent. When we allow employees to work when and where they are most productive, they can step in and out to meet the demands of their personal lives, too. Today, you may need to sacrifice to get that big project wrapped up, but tomorrow you can chaperone your child's school field trip!

— Krisha Buehler, Human Resources Manager, eaHELP

10. Employer Branding

Recruiters now often push for organizations to brand themselves to the talent community. This, in many ways, has been healthy. Companies have had to sit back and think about what they want to be known for, the kind of people it takes to meet such a standard, and how to find those people. Branding brings together human resources and marketing, a feat many would have never thought plausible.

— John Baldino, President, Humareso