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Job Hunting Jargon

Similar to your college search, a job hunt is likely to be filled with specific jargon.  And, as you begin to seek out employment, it’s important to educate yourself.  Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of terms with which you should be familiar:

Assessments – Assessments are tests that are designed to give you greater insight into your personality and the career track that would best suit you.  Though the results shouldn’t stand as your definitive path, they can certainly help you find some clarity/direction.

Background Check – Prospective employers run background checks to verify the information an applicant provides.  This could involve anything from confirming education and/or job histories to investigating driving or court records.

Benefits – For many jobs, your salary is only a portion of your compensation package; benefits are the other part.  These can include anything from health and dental insurance to stock options, tuition reimbursement, paid vacations, sick leave, child care, pension plans, etc.

Cold Call – Cold calling refers to when a job seeker decides to reach out to a prospective employer on his/her own volition, without an introduction or first seeing a (publicly announced) job opening.

Corporate Culture – The expectations, values and rules of conduct that are shared and maintained by a company and its employees.  It’s important to understand the corporate culture before taking a job.  You want to be sure you agree with and/or can abide by the prescribed culture, otherwise the organization might not be a good fit for you.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) – Similar to a resume, a CV is a document that contains a detailed history of your research, work experience and educational background.  CVs are primarily used for positions within academia.

Employment Gap – As you might have guessed, employment gaps are periods of time when a job-seeker has been unemployed.  Hence there is a gap on his/her resume (ex. an applicant held a job from 2012-2013 and then the next position listed on his/her resume is from 2014-2015).  This can be due to choice or circumstance.  However, it can sometimes cause questions or concern from an employer (though it won’t automatically take a candidate out of the running).

Fit – An essential aspect of job hunting, fit refers to how well a candidate meets the job requirements and how well he/she would mesh with the company culture.  “Fit” is important from both an employee and employer perspective.

FTE – FTE is an acronym that can stand for either full-time employment or full-time equivalent.

Hidden Job Market – As frustrating as it might sound, the vast majority of job openings aren’t advertised; hence they are hidden.  Indeed, many of these positions are filled via personal networks or with the help of temp agencies or recruiters.

Human Resources (HR) – The Human Resources Department is typically in charge of all of the bureaucratic aspects that affect employees, beginning with the hiring process.  Indeed, HR often does the initial vetting of applicants, analyzing the resumes that come in and conducting the first round of interviews.

Informational Interviews – Informational interviews differ from actual job interviews in that you’re meeting with a contact to simply learn more about a company or an industry.  You can use informational interviews to help you refine your career path, inquire as to how to break into a particular industry, etc.  Sometimes these meetings can lead to job offers but the majority of the time, they’re simply learning experiences.

Internal Hire – An internal hire is an individual chosen for the open position who was already working for the company (albeit in a different capacity).  Many times, a company will interview outside applicants to compare them against the internal candidate.

Job Shadowing – When individuals (often students or young adults) are interested in exploring a possible career, they might consider job shadowing.  This entails visiting a work place for a short time (usually a week or two) and observing.  Though brief, job shadowing allows someone to ask a lot of questions and gain a sense of what’s involved in the day-to-day tasks of a particular gig.

Keywords – Keywords are terms for which recruiters and HR managers might scan a resume.  These could be anything from specific degree qualifications or technical jargon to job titles and industry buzzwords.  Frequently, a number of the important keywords will be mentioned in a job listing.  And, oftentimes, an employer will look for these words before fully considering the resume.

Non-Verbal Communication – Non-verbal communication refers to your body language and how you present yourself – your handshake, smile, eye contact, posture, etc.  And, sometimes, this stuff speaks louder than the actual language you’re using.  If you want to be successful in an interview, it’s imperative you become aware of what you’re giving off.

Recruiters/Headhunters/Executive Search Firms – These are individuals/companies that are hired to find qualified candidates for specific positions (at other businesses).  They frequently recruit applicants but job-seekers can initiate contact as well.  Many of them focus on certain industries or geographic regions.
Referral Bonus – A referral bonus is a payment made to an employee who successfully refers an applicant to the hiring manager (i.e. said applicant is offered the position).

Telecommuting – Telecommuting is an arrangement wherein an employee works remotely, often from his/her own home.

Temping – Most job seekers find temp work through agencies and staffing firms.  Temp gigs are usually short term assignments that involve a variety of clients/companies.  They often provide great flexibility and they’re a great way to experience a number of industries.  And, sometimes, temp jobs can even turn into a full-time job offer.

Transferable Skills – This term refers to skills that you have acquired throughout your life (from previous jobs, school programs, activities, etc.) and which you will be able to easily apply to your next position.

We hope this glossary proves useful as you begin your job search.  Good luck!


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Don Munce