A cold desk is a term used to describe a professional environment where there is no existing recruitment network in place for a recruiter to work with.
In this instance, a recruitment consultant is faced with the challenge of setting up recruitment for a business and establishing a stable network of job seekers looking for roles and clients looking to fill roles. See more on a recruitment consultant here.
The opposite of a cold desk is a hot desk, where a recruitment network is already established and in place at the time when a recruitment consultant is tasked with recruiting. See more on a hot desk here.
A recruitment consultant working at a cold desk is required to do more work to forge a recruitment environment to work and succeed in, but is arguably able to be more involved in dictating the kinds of candidates and clients they will work with.