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Healthcare Recruiting Terms: Your Digital Hiring Glossary

Healthcare recruiting is its own world. Demystify the process with this glossary of recruiting terms.

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Healthcare Recruiting Terms


Applicants are job seekers who have applied to an open position. While a candidate might be someone who applied to your open position or someone you found, pre-qualified, and invited to an interview, every applicant submitted an application.

Learn about finding applicants

Applicant tracking system

An applicant tracking system, or an ATS, is a piece of software that helps you store and organize information about applicants. Some ATS platforms also help employers manage job posts, interview schedules, and job offers.

Assessment test

Any test used to screen healthcare candidates on the basis of their skills, experience, attributes, or thinking skills. 


The process of making some steps in your workflow happen automatically. In healthcare hiring, you might automate steps like verifying medical licensure or sending follow-up messages to candidates.

Background check

Any of several checks that are used to ensure that a candidate is an appropriate fit for a role. For clinical roles, this can include licensure verification, along with identity verification and criminal background checks. Whether or not a former convict can legally work in healthcare depends on their state, profession, and felony. 


Perks, outside of salary, that employers offer their workers. While most employers offer health insurance and time off, certain uncommon benefits are also gaining traction in healthcare.

Blended workforce

A workforce made up of employees with different contracts. A healthcare business with some full-time nurses, some agency nurses, and some travel nurses is an example of a blended workforce. 

Burnout, Compassion fatigue

HR and recruiting terms for a state of exhaustion and sometimes depression that arises from work-related stress. About half of all physicians and nurses experience serious burnout at some point in their careers.

Learn about burnout


Individuals who an employer is considering to fill a vacancy. This includes passive candidates, who are not actively seeking a job. 

Candidate testing

A process of assessing a candidate’s skills and attributes to understand if they could succeed in a position. 

Candidate experience

The way candidates perceive you as an employer while proceeding through the hiring process.

Learn about candidate experience

Candidate journey

Every step a candidate takes between becoming aware of your business and receiving a response to their application. During the candidate journey, candidates become aware of open positions, learn about your business, and decide to apply.

Candidate touchpoints

Any moment that your organization interacts with a candidate. More touchpoints can help candidates stay engaged and interested in your business.

Career branding

Everything that contributes to how a business’s career opportunities are perceived. Can include career pages, social media presence, and online visuals. 

Learn about career branding

Care pool

Your healthcare talent network. The pool of candidates who have interacted with your jobs and may be ready to fill new vacancies. This recruiting term is specific to healthcare. 

Clinical and non-clinical roles

Clinical roles directly deal with patient care (for example, nurses, physicians, and caregivers). Non-clinical roles do not (for example, secretaries, administrative workers, and human resources). Both clinical and non-clinical roles are vital to your patient’s care and experience.

Company culture

The collection of values and practices that shape how your workers experience your workplace. 


Staying in compliance refers to meeting all the standards placed upon healthcare organizations, legally and ethically. Healthcare organizations must comply with HIPAA, federal laws, and state laws. 

Contract worker

A worker who is employed for the duration specified in a contract, rather than indefinitely. Travel nurses and daily agency nurses are two examples of contract workers. 


An action taken by a visitor to your website to show that they’re interested in your business. In recruiting, this might mean filling out an application or signing up for job alerts.

Cost per applicant

The average cost to recruit a single qualified applicant. You can estimate your cost per applicant by dividing your entire recruiting costs by the number of qualified candidates who apply for your job.

Cost per hire

The average cost to hire a single new employee. Calculated by dividing your total recruiting costs by the number of hires you make as a result.

Cost per thousand

The costs of getting a thousand interactions on digital ads. This can be both a pricing model used to predict costs and a reporting metric to help inform your future budget.


The process of verifying that clinical workers have all the proper certifications to hold their roles. 

Learn about credentialing

Direct hire, Direct placement

Recruiting terms that refer to a certain kind of hire. Direct hiring happens when an organization permanently hires a new member of staff through a staffing agency. A direct hire is treated like any other permanent employee, unlike a contract worker, who might either only work the duration of their contract or go through a contract-to-hire trial period.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Often grouped together, diversity, equity, and inclusion are actually three distinct values that emphasize the importance of difference in staffing. Diversity refers to the difference in background and thought that make up any group of people. Equity refers to the commitment to ensuring every individual is treated as an equal member of the team. Inclusion is the commitment to welcoming different thoughts, perspectives, and experiences.

Learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion

Easy apply, 1-click apply

Two kinds of applications that can be completed very quickly. Easy apply options are helpful for competitive fields like healthcare where candidates may be browsing jobs between shifts.

Learn about easy apply

Employee engagement

The process of keeping workers actively and positively engaged with their job and workplace. This can involve surveys, check-in meetings, and social events.

Employer brand reputation

Your reputation as an employer. How employees and candidates think of and talk about you.

Fill rate

The percentage of open roles that are filled by a new employee. In recent years, healthcare’s fill rate has dropped as low as 0.5, indicating that about half of all open positions were filled. 

Flexible benefits

Benefit options that employees can select for themselves. Flexible benefits are used to enhance employees’ quality of life and attract more applicants. 

Learn about flexible benefits

Hiring process

Every step in your process between deciding to send a candidate an offer letter and securing their signed acceptance. 

Learn about streamlined hiring

Human resources information system 

A human resources information system, or HRIS, is an employee management platform that handles things like employee benefits, payroll, and reporting.

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In-house training

Professional training offered by an employer to employees. Employers can offer free clinical training to new employees or non-clinical workers to help get them certified as CNAs. 

Learn about in-house training

Integrated talent management

An HR strategy that ensures all elements of applicant and employee management work together. This can help businesses improve talent planning and recruiting strategy.

Job board

An online site where employers post job openings, which may or may not be industry-specific. Apploi distributes job posts automatically to the top-performing job boards. 

Job description

The summary of a job opening that can be posted to job boards and other recruiting sites. An effective job description should be SEO friendly and web optimized. 

Job distribution

The process of sending a job description to multiple websites or locations where potential candidates might see it.

Learn about job distribution

Job offer

The initial offer for a job that an employer will extend to a candidate. A job offer can be made verbally but is only binding when paperwork has been signed. 

Landing page

The page of your website where visitors are sent after clicking an ad or a link. For job seekers, this should be a page related to recruiting, like your careers page.


A medical license refers to the credentials clinical workers need to provide patient care. Licensure requirements vary and must be verified by the employer. 

Medical license verification

The process, undertaken by an employer, to confirm that a candidate or employee has the appropriate licensure to fill their role. Apploi automatically re-verifies medical licenses on an ongoing basis, before and after hire.

Learn about license verification


An individual, typically someone with notable professional experience, who offers support and guidance to another worker. Mentorships can be arranged formally or informally. 

New hires

Employees who have joined their workplace recently and may still be adjusting to processes and best practices.

Onboarding process

The process of establishing a new employee in a workplace. Onboarding can include completing legally required paperwork, training, and meeting other workers.

Learn about onboarding

Passive candidate

Someone who may be a good fit for a job that they are not actively seeking. Passive candidates are typically more difficult to recruit than candidates who are actively job-seeking, but they can be important in the fight against the healthcare talent shortage.


A payment model where a business pays an advertiser a specific amount each time a user clicks through an online ad. 

Pre-screening, Pre-employment screening

A question or series of questions used to assess a candidate’s skills or experiences early in the application stage. Pre-screening questions are often a part of a quick apply process and may be used in place of cover letters. 

Recruitment marketing

A recruiting strategy that uses marketing techniques to drive more applicants to jobs.

Learn about recruitment marketing

Referral program, Employee referral program

A program, run by an individual business, used to encourage employees to refer people in their social circle to job openings. Some businesses offer rewards, like monetary bonuses, to employees who refer candidates who then go on to accept job offers.

Retention rate

The percentage of employees who stay in their roles each year. Retention rates vary widely across different healthcare professions. Among nurses, burn care and women’s health have some of the highest retention rates, while emergency services and step-down care have some of the highest.

Return on investment

Return on investment, or ROI, is the measure of your monetary gains against the cost of getting those results. For recruitment, your return on investment is the monetary value added by a new hire weighed against the cost of recruiting and hiring them. 

Right-to-hire, Temp-to-hire

During a right-to-hire period, a worker is employed through a staffing agency to work for a business, with the possibility of the business extending a permanent employment offer when the temporary contract ends. 


The process of assessing a candidate through questions, application materials, interviews, or tests.


Work that is disconnected from the needs and actions of other teams, workers, or initiatives. When workers fall into silos, they don’t see the full picture impacting their business. They may wind up replicating work or failing to adjust to developing needs. 

Social recruiting

A recruitment strategy that uses social media to connect with potential candidates.


A collective term referring to all aspects of talent management, including recruitment, hiring, and employee operations.

Staffing ratios, Nurse-to-patient ratios

The ratio of care providers to patients that is required to ensure healthcare services are safe and legal. There is currently no federal law mandating staffing ratios. Also known as “safe staffing.”

Talent pipeline

A pool of candidates who are in the process of being assessed. 

Talent planning

The process of planning for upcoming workforce development, retention, and recruiting. 

Talent shortage

A talent shortage occurs when an industry has more open positions than qualified job-seeking candidates. Most healthcare professions are experiencing a talent shortage currently, due in part to Baby Boomers reaching retirement age. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that RNs alone will have 194,500 openings every year from now through the end of the decade.

Temporary workers

Workers who are employed on a temporary contract. Includes most agency workers and travel nurses.


The time it takes an employer to fill a vacancy. Time-to-fill includes the time it takes an employer to find a candidate. Therefore, it’s typically longer than time-to-hire. For healthcare, it takes an average of 49 days to fill a role.


The length of time between connecting with a candidate and officially hiring them as an employee. Time-to-hire can be improved with a quicker candidate screening and an efficient offer process.

Learn about average time-to-hire

Turnover rate

The percentage of employees who leave their business every year. In 2021, about 41% of RNs and 46% of CNAs left their jobs.


A position that is not occupied by an employee.


A standard process for accomplishing a certain goal. A hiring workflow will typically include stages like screening, verifying licensure, completing a background check, and sending an offer letter. 

Learn about automated workflows

Better Hiring With Apploi

Apploi helps employers source candidates, streamline hiring, and onboard new recruits. Hire painlessly to make a great impression on new applicants. 

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.