75 Job Terms To Know For 2023 (Career Terms)

job terms

Career Terms

Throughout the job search process, you will likely come across recruiters who regularly use unique job-related terms you have never heard of. Heck, I’m working in the space and haven’t heard of a good handful of them.

While you don’t need to know the in-depth details of each term, it’s essential to be aware of them to make the interview and hiring experience run smoothly.

Knowing industry-specific terms can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your field, which can benefit your career growth.

This list we built below will run through standard employment-related terms/definitions to help you prepare for your following career conversation – whether with a hiring manager or your current boss.

75 Career Terms for the Year 2023

401K Definition

What Is A 401k?

A 401(k) plan is a retirement savings and investing account many employers offer their employees.

Employees can fund the account with money they earn through salary deductions or directly from their paychecks. Employers may also match employee contributions.

The US Congress designed the 401(k) plan to encourage Americans to save for retirement. 

For 2021, the annual limit on employee contributions is $19,500 per year for workers under the age of 50, and for the coming year, the limit is $20,500 per year.

Action Verb Definition

What Is An Action Verb?

Action verbs show the subject’s behavior or action in a sentence. They are used to convey information and emotion. An example of an action verb is “to drink” or “to go out.”

These words are often used to describe physical or mental activity and are an essential part of the written language. An excellent example of an action-oriented word is “spearheaded” As you can see, spearheaded implies a leadership position or decisive attitude.

Another example of an action verb is “to lead.” If you are an effective leader, you will be able to convince others to follow you by using this word. An action-oriented word will help you stand out from the crowd.

The most effective action-oriented words show how you can influence others, especially within a resume or during a job interview. These verbs are often combined with quantitative results, such as sales, to prove the effectiveness of an act or idea.

Affirmative Action Definition

What Is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action refers to policies and practices adopted to include and improve the performance of traditionally underrepresented groups. 

These groups may be based on race, gender, nationality, creed, or sexual orientation. 

The policy became prominent in the USA in the 1960s to promote equal opportunity across various segments of society. The procedure was developed to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which sought to eliminate discrimination.

Applicant Tracking System Definition

What Is An Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables an employer to streamline the recruitment process electronically. 

It can be implemented at an enterprise level or used by a small business. It is designed to track and organize applications, as well as track applicants and candidates in a single system.

ATS systems have many benefits. The biggest one is that they standardize the information about candidates and allow easy access to candidate feedback. 

A good ATS can make the hiring process much quicker. An ATS will help save your company money and staff resources by making hiring processes more efficient.

Apprenticeship Definition

What Is An Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a system around on-the-job training for new practitioners. In some industries, an apprentice is required to earn a license before moving on to the next stage (plumbers and electricians). 

Some apprentices are paid, and some are unpaid. Many employers offer paid classroom time for their apprentices, but there is no federal requirement that training hours must be spent. 

While the format of an apprenticeship program will vary, all of them have the same basic structure. 

Whether a formal training program or a volunteer opportunity, an apprenticeship is a great way to make money and learn about a new industry.

Assessment Definition

What Is An Assessment?

An assessment is used to assess a person’s skills, knowledge, and quality level when applying for a new job. It is an interactive process designed to provide constructive feedback to the person conducting the test. 

The results of an assessment allow the hiring company to measure the level of a specific skill they are looking for in applicants.

Background Check Definition

What Is A Background Check?

A background check is a process through which an individual’s past activities, education, and criminal record can be checked. The purpose of the process is to verify the identity of the individual. 

In addition, background checks allow prospective employers to verify a candidate’s employment history. While the majority of background checks are public records, the definition varies for different types of background checks.

Behavioral Interview Definition

What Is A Behavioral Interview?

A behavioral interview looks at past actions and behaviors of a candidate rather than future ones. 

It typically consists of questions designed to measure a candidate’s performance in a similar situation. Rather than asking hypothetical questions, behavioral interviewers are looking for the real you and your approach to problems. 

The interviewer wants to get to know the person’s attitude and approach to work. Therefore, candidates should prepare their answers for this type of interview by listing examples of how they handled previous situations.

Benefits Definition

What are work benefits?

An employment benefit is something that makes one’s work life easier. Work benefits are generally offered to employees as a form of gratitude for their hard work. A company can also provide benefits to its employees to ensure that they remain happy within their current position. Some common employment benefits include; Health insurance, 401k plan, and vision/dental plans.

While employee benefits are often unpaid, these extra incentives help employees remain content and productive. If employees are satisfied with their jobs and enjoy their advantages, they will be more likely to stay with the company.

Blue Collar Definition

Who Are Blue Collar Workers?

A blue-collar worker is a working-class person who performs manual and skilled labor. 

Common areas where blue-collar positions are found include agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, maintenance, and more. Some of these jobs are highly skilled and require high levels of education.

Burnout Definition

What is Burnout?

In 1974, Herbert Freudenberger published a study on the causes of burnout. He described the conditions that could lead to this disorder due to prolonged exposure to stress or overwork. He concluded that burnout could affect a person’s mental health, as it can aggravate anxiety and depression.

The symptoms of burnout include reduced efficacy, depersonalization, and exhaustion. A lack of motivation, stress, or a breakdown can cause it.

Career Change Definition

What is Career Change?

A career change involves changing a specific type of job or profession. 

For example, someone in oil and gas may choose to work in the clothing eCommerce industry. A person who has worked in an accounting firm may begin training to become a movie producer, while an employee of a clothing company might start his own business.

Career Coach Definition

What is a career coach?

A career coach is a professional who provides career advice and guidance to clients seeking a career change. 

Career coaches can help clients sort out their thoughts, develop realistic career plans, and identify strengths and weaknesses. By listening to their clients and discussing their interests and skills, a career coach can help them develop effective and realistic strategies to reach their goals.

Career Fair Definition

What Is A Career Fair?

A career fair is an event where employers and recruiters give information about available job opportunities to potential applicants. 

This is an excellent opportunity for new job seekers to meet and network with various employers. You may find a job that you’re passionate about, or you might find a new company that is hiring and is looking for a new hire.

Career Objective Definition

What Is A Career Objective?

A career objective describes a person’s career goals and a summary of their professional work history.

It is not a list of personal goals. Instead, it should outline what the prospective employer is looking for in an applicant with your matching skills and experiences. Often, the objective is the first thing a reader sees when reading a resume.

Career Passion Definition

What Is Your Career Passion?

Career passion is the reason why you’re passionate about the work you do. Being passionate about your job allows you to put your best effort forward, resulting in improved mental health. 

This is important because people who enjoy their jobs put in the extra effort to succeed. A person passionate about their work is often more successful than one who doesn’t enjoy it. And the same applies to people who are not passionate about their work. If you love your work, you can do it accurately and precisely.

Career Planning Definition

What Is Career Planning?

Career planning is the process of designing a person’s career and future. 

The goal is to maximize their potential by determining the most effective strategy for advancing their career. If done correctly, career plans can also benefit organizations. 

A person’s career development plan will depend on their abilities and personal preferences.

Compensation Package Definition

What Is A Compensation Package?

A compensation package is an offer made to applicants that an employer provides in exchange for your work. This package often includes wages, bonuses, incentives, and other perks and allowances.

While the compensation package may differ from company to company, a great one is guaranteed to attract and retain top employees.

Contract Employee Definition

What Is A Contract Employee?

A contract employee is not considered a regular employee and operates under a contract with a company. They are hired for a specific amount of time for a particular project at a negotiated rate. 

A contract employee may also be referred to as an independent contractor or freelancer.

Corporate Culture Definition

What Is Corporate Culture?

The concept of corporate culture has existed for many years, but what is it? This term identifies how employees interact within an organization or work environment.

This is a critical aspect of business performance.

Counter Offer Definition

What Is A Counter Offer?

A counteroffer is an option to change a previous offer made by an employer before accepting a new job. Candidates can counter an offer if they disagree with the hiring employer’s conditions. 

This allows the applicants and employers to continue working together and find a solution.

Cover Letter Definition

What Is A Cover Letter?

In the case of a job application, a cover letter is an attached document that reveals more about the applicant. This document often accompanies a curriculum vitae or résumé. 

A cover letter aims to show the hiring manager your qualifications and skills specific to the position you are applying for.

Discipline Procedure Definition

What Is Discipline Procedure?

A disciplinary procedure is a process that a group or an assembly uses to punish members who violate the rules. This process is also used in organizations where the majority does not agree with the decision made by the assembly. 

When an employee commits a disciplinary offense, an employer must follow a specific procedure for addressing the offense. Typically, this process begins with a warning and ends with a formal dismissal or other penalty. A disciplinary procedure must be fair and standardized.

Discrimination Definition

What Is Discrimination in the Workplace?

Discrimination is a form of bias or prejudice, including any action that creates an unjustifiable difference between individuals – often based on race, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion, or group membership. 

Discrimination in the workplace is unlawful and downright wrong.

Dismissal Definition

What Does Dismissal Mean?

The term “dismissal” is commonly used to refer to the termination of an employee’s contract. This could be due to various reasons, such as poor performance or gross misconduct.

Dress for Success Definition

What Does Dress for Success Mean?

Dress for success means choosing an outfit and adjusting one’s appearance to make a good impression, specifically within the workplace.

Elevator Speech Definition

What Is An Elevator Speech?

An elevator speech can be summarized as a short version of a full-blown speech. Often referred to as an elevator pitch, it is a concise yet powerful description of a concept in a limited time.

Employee Definition

What Is An Employee?

An employee is a worker a company employs to perform specific work functions in return for financial or other compensation.

The term employee is sometimes used to distinguish contract workers from full-time employees who often earn additional benefits from an employer.

Employee Assistance Program Definition

What Is An Employee Assistance Program?

An employee assistance program is a support system that helps employees cope with work-related and personal problems that may impact their performance or health. 

The program assists employees in identifying and resolving such issues, which may affect their mental well-being or job performance.

Employment At Will Definition

What Does Employment At Will Mean?

Through employment at will, a company has the right to fire an employee without notice and reason. 

This type of employment is recognized by federal law in all 50 states but has certain limitations. A company can’t fire an employee based on race, nationality, or gender.

As such, it’s crucial to understand the definition of at-will employment and how it impacts your position in the company.

Employment Contract Definition

What Is An Employment Contract?

An employment contract is a legal document that formally attributes rights between parties to a job opening. 

There are several types of employment contracts. Fixed-term contracts are used when both parties have agreed to work for a specific time. An indefinite-term contract is used when the employee has agreed to work for a certain amount of time. The duration of an employment contract depends on the nature of the job. A part-time job, for instance, will likely have a fixed period, while a permanent one will be indefinite.

Whether a company hires an individual or is self-employed, an employment contract is necessary for labor law.

Employment Gap Definition

What Is An Employment Gap?

An employment gap is a space of unaccounted-for gaps between jobs. When determining a candidate’s potential employment history, employment gaps can significantly impact the outcome of an interview. 

While there are plenty of excuses to describe a prolonged time out of the workforce, a more in-depth explanation is best. Many candidates leave months off their resumes because they’ve worked in contract positions. A savvy recruiter will probe the reason for the gap and will know if a candidate is working for a contractor. This is a legitimate excuse, but it’s not a good one.

Entry Level Definition

What Does Entry Level Mean?

An entry-level position is designed for recent graduates in a specific discipline. These jobs usually require little to no experience and offer training on-site to develop your skills. 

Employers may list a job as entry-level but often require additional experience. In addition to building up a resume, an entry-level position can help you establish professional references and build a network.

Exit Interview Definition

What Is An Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a survey or discussion after an individual leaves an organization or association. This type of interview is often used to assess the relationship between an individual and their last employer. 

This process is an excellent way to collect valuable information about the company’s culture and the issues that employees have with their job.


Flexible Working Hours Definition

What Are Flexible Working Hours?

Flexible working hours varies by industry, but it is generally defined as a system that allows employees and employers to make choices that suit them and their lifestyle. 

The main benefits of flexible hours are that employees can finish work at their own pace and have more flexibility.

Follow-Up After Interview Definition

What Is An Interview Follow-Up?

Following up with a thank you note after a job interview is vital in receiving a job offer. This is a simple email or letter thanking the interviewer for their time and expressing your continued interest in the role.

Freelance Definition

What Is Freelancing?

The term freelance refers to someone who works for himself and is not employed by a company or institution. A freelancer works on a contract basis and is responsible for submitting their work to several potential buyers. 

This is in contrast to a full-time employee, who depends on a single employer and does not have the luxury of choosing their assignments.

Headhunter Definition

What Is A Headhunter?

A headhunter is a professional who recruits for organizations seeking top-level talent. They are also referred to as recruiters. 

Organizations often pay these professionals to seek out candidates with the appropriate skills and experiences needed to fill open positions.

Hiring Manager Definition

What Are Hiring Managers?

A hiring manager is responsible for determining whether an applicant is qualified for a position and ultimately hiring the best option.

They typically oversee all the processes involved in the employee recruitment lifecycle, including conducting interview sessions and analyzing resumes.

Home-Based Careers Definition

What Is A Home-Based Career?

Home-based careers allow employees to work and complete tasks from the comfort of their homes. Whether it’s writing, editing, or designing websites, home-based careers are a growing trend.

Home-based workers are an excellent way for most companies to cut costs and save money. While they don’t need a physical space to perform their duties, they do need some basic amenities.

Internship Definition

What Is An Internship?

An internship is a temporary position that can help new job seekers gain experience in a particular field. 

There are many different types of internship positions, each requiring different skills. The goal of an internship is to provide a valuable contribution to an organization while also acquiring skills needed in the field.

Job Applicant Definition

What Is A Job Applicant?

The job application is a standard document containing questions an employer deems relevant for a particular position.

A job application is an essential component of the application process. Although job applications differ in terms of what is required of an applicant, they all serve a similar purpose: to identify a suitable candidate for a specific job.

Job Board Definition

What Is A Job Board?

A job board is a site that lists various career opportunities for job seekers. The website lets these job seekers search for and apply for jobs while also allowing employers to post their job vacancies. 

Some job boards specialize in specific industries, while others are more generalist.

Job Description Definition

What Is A Job Description?

A job description is a descriptive text that describes the general responsibilities and desired skill set for a job opening. It contains a detailed list of tasks, qualifications, and duties of the position. 

It is used to identify a suitable candidate for the position and determine the qualifications required for the vacant job.

Job Outlook Definition

What Is a Job Outlook?

Job outlook is a term used to forecast the anticipated change in a particular occupation.

A person’s job outlook is helpful in finding a suitable career path. By looking at the growth percentage of a particular field, you can quickly determine whether it is a good fit for you. Ultimately, your job outlook should be tailored to your interests and qualifications, but remember that this should not be your only consideration when choosing a career.

If you are interested in the job outlook for a particular field, you can check the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Job Shadowing Definition

What is Job Shadowing? 

Job shadowing is an on-the-job learning experience that helps new employees or job seekers with unclear career directions.

Shadowing/learning from professionals within a specific space gives that person a more precise look into the job and helps them determine if it’s something they want to pursue.

Maternity Leave Definition

What is Maternity Leave? 

Maternity leave is when a person is granted to stay home from work after giving birth. It is usually paid and lasts from a few weeks to a few months.

Merit Pay Definition

What is Merit Pay? 

Merit pay is a bonus given to workers based on their ability to perform their jobs. 

Also known as merit increases and pay for performance, merit pay is an effective way to motivate and reward employees throughout many industries.

In addition to boosting productivity and keeping workers motivated, merit pay can also improve employee retention.

Minimum Wage Definition

What Does Minimum Wage Mean?

The minimum wage is the lowest wage an employer is legally required to pay its workers. The national minimum wage is set by law in many cases, but the amount may vary by industry or location.

Offer Letter Definition

What is an Offer Letter? 

An offer letter is a document sent to prospective employees by a company. It lays out the details of employment, such as compensation and hours. It may also include additional information about bonuses, stock options, commissions, and your start date.

Onboarding Definition

What is Onboarding? 

Onboarding is bringing new employees to an organization while integrating them with all the tools and information needed to transition into the new role successfully. 

This process involves a series of training sessions and other activities designed to ensure that new employees are up to speed with the company’s culture and business objectives. The process is crucial to a company’s success, and it must be done correctly to ensure its success.

A typical onboarding experience can include various activities, including completing paperwork, completing job descriptions, and early check-ins.

Outsourcing Definition

What Does Outsourcing Mean? 

Outsourcing is an agreement where a company contracts out the work to another company or individual to perform an activity on its behalf. 

For many businesses, outsourcing is a way to expand and decrease expenses. It is an excellent way to save money while still maintaining quality service.

Overtime Definition

What is Overtime? 

Overtime is time worked beyond the regular hours of a person’s job. It often comes with compensation at a higher rate than your regular pay.

Standard overtime rates typically include time and a half and double time.

Paid Time Off Definition

What is Paid Time Off (PTO)? 

The term paid time off (PTO) refers to personal time that employees spend away from the office while still being paid. 

This is your time off and can include sick days, vacation days, and bank of hours.

Pension Definition

What is a Pension? 

A pension is a retirement account that pays periodic payments to a person who has worked for a particular company during their working years. The employer creates this account so that money from employees during their employment years can be added to it. Those payments are called pensions.

Performance Appraisal Definition

What is a Performance Appraisal? 

A performance appraisal (review or development discussion) is a process for reviewing an employee’s performance and providing valuable feedback to help develop their career and make improvements within their current position. 

Providing the proper feedback will ensure that the employee can improve their abilities and reach higher levels in the organization. The results of this process are often used to justify merit pay increases or training needs.

Profit Sharing Definition

What is Profit Sharing? 

The term profit sharing refers to a wide range of incentive plans introduced by businesses. These plans often provide direct or indirect payments to employees based on a company’s profitability. 

Typically, publicly traded companies will allocate shares to employees. This is not to be confused with stock options. 

Moreover, profit sharing encourages loyalty to the company. Employees who feel they are contributing to the company’s success will be likelier to do their best and stick around.

Recruiting Definition

What is Recruiting? 

Recruiting generally refers to finding and hiring the best people for a particular position. This involves screening prospective candidates, engaging potential employees, and developing an employer brand. A well-run recruitment process is crucial for a company to achieve its goals.

Job References Definition

What Are References When Searching for a Job? 

References are co-workers or managers who can discuss your work experience, work habits, overall character, and skillset. 

Employers will often ask for references as part of the job search process, at which you need to provide the names of people they can contact to find out more about you.

Relevant Work Experience Definition

What is Relevant Work Experience? 

Relevant work experience is the skill and experiences you have picked up in past roles pertinent to the position you are applying for. This is often associated with a job seeker’s resume. 

When a candidate has a lot of relevant experience, they will stand out from the rest.

Resume Definition

What is a Resume? 

A resume is a document containing your personal history, education, skills, and accomplishments. It can be used for many purposes but is most commonly used to secure new employment. 

It is an advertisement for the applicant, stating their current career goals and communicating the value of hiring them.

Seasonal Work Definition

What is Seasonal Work?

A seasonal employee is an employee who works for a specific period, usually six months or less. This popular temporary and short-term work can include retail jobs around the holiday time or seasonal agriculture work.

Sexual Harassment Definition

What is Sexual Harassment? 

Sexual harassment is a behavior characterized by making unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a professional atmosphere like a workplace.

It can be a verbal or physical act, and anyone can commit it.

Soft Skills Definition

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are your skills and abilities that relate to how you work and interact with others – typically within the workplace. 

Examples of soft skills include communication, listening, time management, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. 

Hiring managers typically look for job candidates with soft skills because they make someone more successful.

STAR Interview Method Definition

What is the STAR Interview Method? 

The STAR Interview method is based on the STAR principle of defining a problem by identifying the context of the problem and setting the context for action and the task. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Taking Ownership Definition

What Does Taking Ownership Mean? 

In the workplace, taking ownership means holding yourself accountable for your work. It’s a company culture that links the concept of accountability, transparency, and a high-trust environment.

Technical Skills Definition

What Are Technical Skills? 

Technical skills refer to the specialized knowledge and expertise needed to accomplish complex actions, tasks, and processes relating to computational and physical technology and a diverse group of other enterprises. – Investopedia

Telecommuting Definition

What is Telecommuting? 

Telecommuting is the practice of working from home, utilizing the internet, email, and phone capabilities to complete work tasks. 

Telecommuting allows employees to do their jobs while not physically being at their place of employment. It can also be referred to as telework, mobile work, remote work, work from home, or distance working.

Temp to Hire Definition

What Does Temp to Hire Mean? 

A temp-to-hire arrangement is one in which a worker is hired for a set period (contract) on the condition that they may be renewed for a full-time position when that contract ends.

Trade Union Definition

What is a Trade Union? 

A trade union is a group of workers who have a common interest. Rather than simply representing workers in individual disputes with management, a trade union takes up the issues of its members. 

A trade union’s goal is to improve its members’ working conditions and wages. To achieve these goals, a trade union must establish a constitution.

Transferable Skills Definition

What are transferable skills? 

Transferable skills are talents and abilities that can be transferred from one job to another. These skills can generally be used in every job, no matter the title or the field.

Unemployment Compensation Definition

What is Unemployment Compensation? 

Unemployment compensation is a benefit paid to people who have recently lost their job at no fault, such as being laid off or if the business has dissolved. 

There are several restrictions that limit who can collect unemployment compensation. For instance, workers who have been fired for misconduct generally cannot claim unemployment compensation.

White Collar Definition

What are white-collar jobs? 

White-collar work generally relates to the job done in an office setting or other professional environment. Some define it as employees known for earning higher than average salaries doing highly skilled work but not by performing manual labor at their jobs.

Working Remotely Definition

What Does working remotely mean? 

Working remotely is doing your work from home or elsewhere outside the typical office location. It has several synonyms including telecommuting, flexible workplace, mobile work, and distance working. 

It is a popular choice for professionals who want more freedom but don’t want to be tied down by a traditional office. Many companies are now offering employees the flexibility to work from any location, which allows people to work from home whenever it is most convenient for them.

Check out our remote non-tech job board.

Workplace Harassment Definition

What is workplace harassment? 

Workplace harassment is a form of bullying or demeaning behavior directed at an individual or group of workers within the workplace. 

The first thing you should do if you are a victim of harassment is document the incidents and let HR know. You should keep all documentation, such as emails and text messages, for future reference.

Title: 75 Job Terms To Know During the Job Search

Category: theGuidance

Tags: job terms, career terms, employment definitions, career definitions, employment terms, job search terms, career related terms, career terminology, job related terms, work terms, job search resources

Author: Reid is a contributor to theJub. He’s an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile

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