Working in recruitment for over a decade, we have noticed that there is a great deal of confusion in terms.

Is recruiting the same as staffing? How is headhunting different from recruiting? What does talent acquisition mean? Where does sourcing fit here?

Below, we’ll try to sort out what Recruiting, Staffing, Headhunting, Sourcing/Researching, and Talent Acquisition are and how they are different from each other.

Let’s start with the most common one.


In simple words, Recruiting means filling job positions for a particular company. It usually involves everything from search to onboarding, depending on where a recruiter comes from.

There are two types of recruiters:

  1. in-house recruiters who work for the hiring company on a payroll
  2. third-party or agency recruiters who work for an agency that does the Recruiting on behalf of the client company

Recruiting professionals are the contact people for candidates. They manage job postings, process applications, prep the applicant for the interview, and even play a part in the contract negotiations.

Some recruiters are proactive, which means they contact candidates first and try to persuade them to apply for a position. And some are not: in this case, a recruiter posts job descriptions and manages applications without actively searching for candidates.


There are two opposing views on what Staffing is.

STAFFING: Classic Definition

Staffing can refer to the process of workforce development within an organisation.

In Recruiting, we are usually talking about a single position that needs to be filled. In Staffing, the company’s employment goals come into the foreground.

Staffing has more to do with strategic planning after analysing workforce-related needs of a particular company. In other words, while in Recruiting matching a professional with the position is central, in Staffing, it is more about forming working teams within a company.

A staffing agency can be assigned to fill in a single position or to hire talent for a team or even the entire company

STAFFING: Alternative Definition

Staffing can also refer to filling short-term positions or hiring for project jobs. It is sometimes called Alternative Staffing (and is also known as "body shopping"). It applies to staffing agencies that hire employees remotely on a project or short-term basis.

Staffing professionals who work in this paradigm pay more attention to hard skills of potential employees, while recruiters ideally consider both hard and soft skills, culture fit (or culture add), as well as other numerous factors.

We at Caissa are proponents of the former, the classical, approach to Staffing.


Headhunting is synonymous with Executive Search (although it is very often wrongly used instead of Recruitment or Sourcing). Headhunting stands for locating highly-skilled or hard-to-find candidates, especially for executive and senior-level jobs (the C-suite roles).

Headhunters are always proactive, which means they actively approach both job seekers (active candidates) and those who are not actively looking for a new job (passive candidates), once there is a good match.

Headhunting professionals can be both involved in the entire recruitment process or they can be limited to contacting and screening candidates only.


In terms of the recruitment process, Sourcing or Researching is one of its initial stages.

Researchers find candidates who qualify for the existing job openings. Their primary function of a sourcer is to conduct complex searches within the industry and to compile the list of the best candidates for a certain position.

Researchers work with job boards, specialised websites, and professional social networks such as LinkedIn to do their job. Often Sourcing is one of the duties of a recruiting professional. Still, good sourcers should be masters of boolean search and talent mining.


Talent Acquisition is synonymous with Recruiting. Almost.

The main difference is that, while Recruiting is mostly about filling positions, Talent Acquisition is about matching employers with prominent talent, building and nurturing relationships with candidates, and fostering a positive image of a hiring company.

Simply put, recruiters match candidates with employers. Opposed to that, talent acquisition professionals do more. They act as employer’s brand advocates when searching for qualified professionals. They strive to meet the company’s hiring goals and the candidate’s career goals. They ensure that both parties are satisfied in the process.


We have a short answer and a long answer for you.


We do all of it and focus on Talent Acquisition.


We do everything from high-skilled candidate Sourcing to getting the contract signed, which is what sourcers, headhunters, recruiters, and staffing professionals do.

However, unlike most recruiters, we always consider a much broader picture: the employer’s business goals and their company culture, specifics of each project within the organisation and the company’s technology stack.

We do our best to truly understand the needs and goals of every client we work with, as well as needs and goals of every candidate we consider for a position. We think long-term, as we are mainly interested in lasting mutually beneficial relationships with both clients and job seekers. We believe that recruitment is closely related to marketing and brand advocacy.

Last but not least, we also pride ourselves to be expert headhunters. We understand the difference between headhunted candidates and applicants for a position, and conduct the recruitment process accordingly.

Recruiting, Staffing, Sourcing, Headhunting, And Talent Acquisition Defined