Job Search Glossary

This glossary is a resource of words, definitions, short phrases, and hiring jargon. If you feel like your are out of the loop as a candidate or hiring professional this glossary will server you well. Bookmark this page and use it as a reference. 



What is an applicant? An applicant is a job seeker who has applied for employment at a company.


Applicant Tracking System 

What is an applicant tracking system? An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software employed by hiring managers and human resources employees to assist in filtering out candidates based on resume keywords, specific skills, and other variables designated by the operator.



What is an application? An application is an official request from a job seeker to be considered for employment given to a company or recruiter. A job application may be a simple email with a resume or cover letter attached to it, or it could be on a proprietary company system.



What is an ATS? The acronym ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. An ATS is software utilized by hiring managers and human resource employees to filter and organize candidates. See Applicant Tracking System for further details.


Background Check

What is a background check? A background check is a review process performed by a company on a particular job applicant to determine if they are qualified, legitimate, truthful, and whether there are any items in their past which could harm the company were it to hire the applicant.



What are benefits? Benefits are items and services offered by a company on top of monetary compensation (salary). Common employer benefits include medical insurance, dental insurance, retirement benefits, disability insurance, and paid time off.


Branding Statement

What is a branding statement? A branding statement is a short summary describing a job seeker efficiently and effectively to prospective employers. It could be a few words long or a paragraph of a few sentences in length. 



What is a career? A career is a person’s life-long journey through the world of work unique to that person. It typically lasts many years and may contain many related jobs or promotions. A career tends to be in one particular industry, although it might also be a string of jobs related in another way. 


Career Change

What is a career change? A career change is when a person in one field, industry, or line of work switches paths to be outside of their current employment trajectory. For example, a person working their way up the legal career path from law assistant to paralegal makes a career change when they decide to leave law and head into marketing. 


Cover Letter

What is a cover letter? A cover letter is an employment document that a job seeker writes to formally state their application for a job, explain why they’re qualified, and detail why they’d be an ideal candidate and future employee, if hired. A cover letter usually accompanies a job resume and is attached together in an email as a job application.


Curriculum Vitae

What is a curriculum vitae? A curriculum vitae (CV) is an application document detailing a candidate’s work history, personal information, skills, academic qualifications, degrees, awards, publications, achievements, and other pertinent information. In Europe, a CV tends to be similar to a resume in the US. When a CV is required in the US, it is usually a much more comprehensive account of a person’s academic and professional background than a standard employment resume.


Elevator Pitch

What is an elevator pitch? An elevator pitch is a short speech meant to persuade someone to take an action or consider an idea proposed. The goal of an elevator speech could be just about anything, from getting a CEO to consider someone for a job to pitching a million-dollar idea to a Silicon Valley investor. 



What is employment? Employment is the relationship between a worker (employee) and a hirer (employer), usually a company or a private client. Employment most often involves the employer compensating work performed by the employee in monetary terms.


Employment Gap

What is employment gap? An employment gap is when there is a significant space of unemployed time a person has between two jobs. Sometimes, an employment gap may lead to additional scrutiny by hiring managers during a job application review or interview.


Employment Website

What is an employment website? An employment website, also known as an online job board, is a website where job seekers can search for available opportunities and apply for jobs. Good Jobs Near Me is an employment website. 


Job Experience

What is job experience? In the career world, experience is the combination of skills, knowledge, and practice someone gains through working. Experience can also be known as work experience, work history, job experience, job history, or employment experience. 


Family Leave

What is family leave? A benefit provided by employers for employees to handle family related personal matters.


Full-Time Employment

What is full-time employment? Full-time refers to employment at or above a certain number of hours. In most places full-time work means either 30+ or 40+ hours per week. Anything under full-time employment is considered part-time employment.


Hard Skills

What are hard skills? Hard skills are skills and abilities which are able to be taught and quantified, for the most part. Hard skills are usually learned in a classroom, via an app, or through work experience, and it is able to be quantified through testing or surveys. The opposite of hard skills are soft skills, which are more difficult to evaluate and usually learned throughout one’s life.


Hiring Manager

What is a hiring manager? A hiring manager is a company representative responsible for recruitment and employment efforts, including posting job advertisements, reviewing resumes and cover letters, calling candidates, and interviewing prospective applicants.


Human Resources

What is human resources? Human resources (HR) is a company department which is responsible for managing affairs related to employees, such as company culture, performance, training and onboarding, compensation and benefits. Often, a hiring manager may be part of the human resource department, and HR tends to also be responsible for hiring, firing, job interviews, and exit interviews.



What is an internship? An internship is a temporary work program offered by an organization to an individual, often a student or recent graduate, looking to build experience or skills in a particular field. A person accepted into an internship program is called an intern.



What is an interview? An interview is a meeting between a job candidate and one or more company representatives for the purpose of determining whether the candidate would be a good fit as a potential employee. 


Job Board 

What is a job board? A job board is a website that lists vacancies from companies hiring. See employment website for further detail. 


Maternity Leave

What is maternity leave? A benefit provided by employers for mothers to tend to their children. 


Minimum Wage

What is minimum wage? A minimum wage is the lowest monetary compensation legally allowed in a particular geographic area. Usually a per-hour amount, companies are not permitted to pay their employees less than the minimum wage in a given area.



What is onboarding? Onboarding is a post-employment process an HR representative guides a newly-hired employee on to bring that employee up to speed as far as the company history, culture, ways of the office, and any other knowledge an employee might need to be able to be proficient at their new job. 



What is overtime? Overtime refers to an amount of work performed by an employee which is greater than the normal amount of working hours. Overtime may be set at a company level, city level, or national level, and it usually involves a higher rate of compensation for the extra time (above normal working hours) worked.


Parental Leave

What is parental leave? Parental leave is a benefit offered by companies, sometimes required by law, which allows an employee to take time off from work for paternity, maternity, caring of elders, caring of children, caring of ill family members, and other related parental circumstances. Depending on the company and the local and national laws, parental leave can range in time and in compensation, being both paid and unpaid.


Part-Time Employment

What is part-time employment? Part-time refers to employment which is under a designated time, usually meaning either under 30 hours or under 40 hours per week. Any more than this is considered full-time (or overtime). 


Paternity Leave

What is paternity leave? A benefit provided by employers for fathers to tend to their children. 



What is a portfolio? A portfolio is a collection of materials and examples of past work a job seeker compiles to showcase their skills, talent, and experience to prospective employers.


Pounding the Pavement 

What does it mean to be pounding the pavement? The term “pounding the pavement” is an idiom used to describe the act of diligently and vigorously searching for employment. Job seekers pound the pavement when they are eagerly and constantly looking for their next dream opportunity. 



What is a job promotion? A promotion is a company action which involves advancing an employee to a higher rank in the organization. Many promotions involve more responsibilities and may include an increase in benefits and perks.



What is a recruiter? A recruiter is an agent who locates qualified candidates for job openings or ideal employment opportunities for job seekers. Most recruiters are usually not affiliated with a company, often working solo or part of a recruitment agency. These recruiters are compensated when a job seeker signs a contract by either the company or the job seeker, depending on who sought out the recruiter first. 



What is a resume? A resume is an employment document a job seeker creates detailing their work history, academic achievements, skills, certifications, awards, and any other relevant information. A resume is less extensive and comprehensive than a CV. 



What are work skills? Skills are the knowledge and abilities a job seeker has to perform particular tasks or actions. Skills are very important during a job search, as employers search for candidates with certain skills, and candidates attempt to correctly identify the skills they have to match.


Soft Skills

What are soft skills? Soft skills are talents and abilities that are harder to assess or quantify and usually learned throughout a lifetime, especially those involving relationships, social intelligence, communication, character, emotional intelligence, and personality. The opposite of soft skills is hard skills, which are able to easily assess, learn, and quantify.



What is a startup? According to Steve Blank, entrepreneur and developer of the customer development method, “a startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model.” According to Quantic, this means that “startups are adaptable organizations whose primary goal is tofind a business model, not execute one.”


Transferable Skills

What are transferable skills?  Transferable skills are those talents and abilities that are used or acquired at one job which are also able to be utilized at another job. For example, when one improves their communication skills by working at a PR agency, that skill is transferable to a job in marketing.



What is a unicorn company?unicorn is a young company, such as a tech startup, which has been valued at over $1 billion (USD).



What does WFH mean? WFH is the acronym for the term “work from home.” Work from home is the act of working remotely from your residence as opposed to working from a company office.