top of page

Employment Terminology Glossary

A helpful collection of terminology and definitions related to the employment and hiring process.


A 401k is a retirement savings plan offered by employers in which an employee sets aside a percentage of their paycheck, which is then often partially or fully matched by the company.


An absence is a time in which a normally-scheduled employee is not in attendance at their job. Absences can be excused, typically due to medical situations or prior approval from a supervisor, or unexcused and resulting in disciplinary measures.

Acceptance Letter

An acceptance letter is written to a candidate by a company after a complete interview process in order to inform the candidate that they have been accepted for the position. An acceptance letter typically includes salary, benefits, schedule, and a start date, and requests confirmation from the employee upon receipt.


Accessibility refers to the ability for all customers and employees to fully utilize the physical and digital spaces and goods of a company, regardless of any differences in physical ability. Elevators, interpreters, and colorblindness options all increase the accessibility of a business.


An accommodation is a change in procedure made to assist an individual to fully participate in an event or process. Accommodations increase accessibility, and could include additional time to fill out a test, or holding a meeting on the ground floor of a building for easier access. Accommodations are often utilized in interviews, and are arranged as part of the onboarding process for new employees. Accommodations are considered reasonable so long as they do not cause "undue hardship" on the business implementing them.


An acquisition is the combination of one or more businesses, usually through the purchase of most or all of the stock of one business by another. The business being acquisitioned may be purchased for its branding, its production, its geographical distribution, or other beneficial factors to elevate the parent company. The acquisitioned company could also be a threat that is cheaper to buy than fight in the free market, or could be purchased to be disassembled for useful people and parts before being dissolved.

Active Candidate

An active candidate is an individual currently putting effort into finding a job and taking steps to increase employment opportunities. The opposite of a passive candidate, active candidates fill out applications, attend interviews, update their online profiles, and network both online and in person.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is a somewhat negative term for prioritizing the employment and promotion of a specific group of people. Initially created to address historic inequality of hiring in marginalized communities, the term affirmative action has gained a negative connotation for allegedly promoting certain individuals because of their identity, not their qualifications.


Agriculture refers to the economic sector of farming, responsible for the production of food and all organic goods within a country.


An alien is a semi-pejorative term for an individual in the United States who has not gained citizenship through naturalized birth or the acquisition of a green card, but is living in the country on a permanent basis.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 formalized the illegality of discriminating against anyone of a different physical ability in all aspects of employment, including the hiring process. Accommodations which do not present undue hardship are required in order to provide all employees, potential or current, with equal opportunity for employment.

Angel Investor

An angel investor is an individual or group of individuals who infuse a new business with a one-time or consistent payment in exchange for a stake in the company's equity. Compared to Venture Capitalists, angel investors often engage much earlier in the business' life and offer lower overall funds, but also engage when there is a significantly greater amount of risk and use their own funds rather than that of a company.

Annual Leave

Annual leave is the total number of days an employee can be annually absent from work without losing pay. Annual leave can include subsets such as vacation, sick, and personal time. The United States has no minimum required annual leave.


An applicant is an individual who has submitted an application for a position and is currently being actively considered in the hiring process. Synonym for "Candidate."

Applicant Tracking System

An Applicant Tracking System, or ATS, is a computer program used in the hiring process to sort all received applications for a position. An ATS works by parsing a candidate resume, or identifying categorical data such as name/location/education, before comparing those categories to the ideal candidate for the position and highlighting any candidates who meet the criteria.


Arbitration is the process of settling a dispute between two parties by bringing in an unbiased third party rather than going to court. Arbitration clauses in employment contracts often require any dispute between employer and employee to be handled through arbitration rather than becoming a public spectacle.


Arrears refers to the money which has not been paid on an owed payment, especially one which is recurring, and being placed into financial debt as a result of the overdue expense.

Associate's Degree

An associate's degree is a post-secondary educational certification which provides a foundational or introductory understanding of a topic and typically takes two to three years to acquire.

At-Will Employment

At-will employment is an employment relationship in which neither the employee nor the employer is required to provide prior written notice in the event of a termination, and are not required to provide any reasoning for the termination beyond what is specified by relevant laws or contracts. Employees who are members of a union are not considered "at-will" due to having special protections in the firing process.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is the most common educational certification awarded in the United States, providing an in-depth understanding of a specific area of study over the course of four to five years.


In insurance, the beneficiary is the named individual who will receive money from a life insurance policy in the event of the policy holder passing away. Spouses and children are the most common beneficiaries of life insurance payouts.


Benefits are any form of compensation given to an employee outside of their standard salary or wages. Health benefits typically include medical, vision, and dental insurance, but can also include life insurance, disability insurance, and more. Benefits can be mandatory, such as employers contributing to an employee's Social Security and Medicare, but can vary widely and become more extravagant in executive positions, such as a company car, private jet, and housing benefits.


Bias is an individual's dislike or prejudice against a concept or person, often due to reasons which are considered to be unfair. Bias is often unconscious, meaning it affects decisions without being realized. Bias is unfortunately very prevalent in hiring, with individuals facing discrimination due to bias against their religion, appearance, national origin, sexuality, or other non-employment-related characteristics. Preventing bias is a major focus of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.


Bilingual refers to an individual's ability to fluently speak two or more languages. In the United States, "bilingual" in a job advertisement will most often mean "Fluent in English and Spanish," but Chinese, Tagalog, and French are also commonly-requested secondary languages.

Blind (Screening)

Blind screening or blind hiring involves removing non-employment-related information from a candidate's resume to avoid bias during the initial stages of the hiring process. Candidate names, locations, and education can all cause unfair perceptions, and removing identifying information eliminates the possibility of bias taking hold.

Bonus (Payment)

A bonus is monetary compensation of an employee beyond what is contractually obligated or expected by the recipient. Bonuses are often dependent upon individual performance (such as hitting difficult personalized metrics) or company performance (exceeding sales or profit goals).

Branding Statement

A personal branding statement is used by a candidate or employee to quickly sum up their expertise and differentiating factors from others in their field. Typically 1-3 sentences, it is meant to help candidates be remembered and recognized while networking.


Burnout is the process of working too hard for too long, resulting in a decreased level of passion and capability in all areas of work and life. Burnout commonly strikes at the end of significantly stressful times such as the holiday season, or in response to overarching changes in daily operations or company expectations, such as increased workload due to staffing changes.

Business Casual (Dress Code)

Business casual dress code is one of the most common guidelines for dressing in a professional setting, with button-down shirts, khaki pants, and possibly suit jackets, and no shorts, jeans, or short dresses. Business casual dress is often chosen for client meetings and interviews, and strikes a good balance of being formal without overdressing for the occasion.

Business Days (Timeframe)

Business days means "Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM." If something takes ten business days, this means it does not include the Saturday and Sunday, and will actually take twelve calendar days. Additionally, messages or requests sent after 5 PM in the time zone they are received are considered part of the following "business day," as they fall outside of the standard hours of operation.

Business Plan

A Business plan is a company document which outlines the organization's objectives and goals, as well as the steps created in order to reach them.

Business Professional (Dress Code)

Business professional dress code is the second-most formal dress codes, typically requiring a full suit for male employees and pantsuits or skirts for female employees. Business professional relies on darker colors including navy blue, black, and gray, and is often seen in industries such as finance, legal, and the government sector.


A candidate is an individual who has applied for a position and is actively in consideration. Synonym for "Applicant."

Candidate Evaluation Tool

A Candidate Evaluation Tool is used in the hiring process to standardize the metrics being used to evaluate all applicants. CETs include the specific questions to be asked and the scale on which responses are graded, and helps enforce equality by making sure all candidates are asked the same questions in the same way.

Candidate Pool

The candidate pool is the total group of all applicants to a position, regardless of their qualifications. In broader terms, a candidate pool can also be considered all candidates who are qualified for a position, regardless of their interest or current employment status. Differentiation between these two classifications is important to establish in business communication.

Capital (Financial)

In business, capital is the financial assets which a business currently has available in order to pay for expenses and fund future growth.


A capstone project is the culminating assignment at the end of an MBA degree, which necessitates thorough understanding and analysis of a specific area of business and is required for graduation.


A career is the collection of business and industries in which an individual has worked throughout their employment. Many employees remain within one industry for their entire careers, though it is becoming more and more common to change companies and even entire industries throughout one's career.

Career Ladder

A career ladder is the upward progression of job titles with increasing salary and responsibilities within a company or industry. A career ladder helps to outline the various milestones needed to progress in seniority within a field, and can show the potential growth of a career over the coming decades. Administrative Assistant -> Executive Assistant -> Director -> Executive Director -> Vice President is an example of a Career Ladder.

Chain of Command

The chain of command specifies the structure of a company's employees in regards to management and direct reporters. The chain of command begins at the top with the CEO, then whomever reports to the CEO (likely the Vice President, COO, Executive Director), then whomever reports to those positions, and so on. Every employee in a business can be tracked in the chain of command in order to determine who is responsible for them and for whom they are responsible.


A charity is an organization which is operated with the purpose of philanthropy or social well-being, often in the contexts of religion, science, or education. Businesses will frequently work with charities in order to increase their own philanthropic efforts, or to gain positive public perception. Some companies will match employee donations to charities, or allow for time off to work at a charitable organization. Employees can sometimes receive a tax write-off or reimbursement for personal charitable donations.

Child Labor Laws

Child labor laws are regulations at the federal level which specify the conditions in which individuals under the age of 18 may work. While all states are subject to their own internal child labor laws, federal regulations include the prohibition of employment for workers under the age of 14, restricts the schedule and types of work for children under 16, and outlines the types of hazardous employment which cannot employ anyone under 18.

Chronological Resume

A chronological resume is a record of past employment with the most recent job listed first. Chronological resumes are the most commonly used format, and are useful when all experience is relevant to the position being applied to. Chronological resumes help to show the growth of one's career over time, and present the most relevant and important information first. One would not use a chronological resume if their experience was across multiple fields, or if their recent employment was irrelevant to their current application.

Claim (Insurance)

An insurance claim is a formal request for reimbursement to your insurance provider due to a loss covered by their insurance policy. While submitting the claim is the first step, insurance companies will often conduct a thorough and time-consuming evaluation which will require additional follow through on the part of the insured before any payments are made.


In business, employee classifications refer to the expectations of a position's schedule, hours worked, job duration, and job duties. These Classifications deal primarily with how taxes and overtime law are applied to the position. Full- and part-time workers are the two most common Classifications, with Temporary employees, Interns, Contract workers, Volunteers, and On-Call employees all offering additional Classifications.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (or COBRA) provides workers and their families with group health benefits if they are terminated from their position and lose coverage through their workplace. COBRA insurance must be signed up for immediately after termination, lasts for a predetermined number of months, and is generally significantly more expensive than standard insurance offered through a workplace.


A Cohort is a group of individuals who are united by a shared characteristic. Cohorts are typically referring to a group of students in a postsecondary education institute who all graduated at the same time.

Cold Call

Cold calling, a form of lead generation, is the process of contacting potential customers who have not yet expressed interest in your product with the hope of making a sale. Cold calling often requires significant effort, reaching out to dozens or hundreds of people every day with an identical scripted pitch.

Collective Bargaining

Collective Bargaining is the process of a worker's union negotiating with the management of a company on behalf of its members. Collective bargaining affects entire departments or companies rather than individuals, and often focuses on additional benefits or compensation being given to the workers. Failure to come to an agreement during collective bargaining will sometimes result in a worker's strike.


Commission is a payment structure in which the size of an employee's wages is directly linked to the number of successful sales they make. Some positions will offer a small base salary with commission on top, while others are 100% percent commission.


Compensation is a payment made from one party to another in exchange for a good or service. Employee compensation can include wages, benefits, commission, and any additional perks which are given by their employer as payment for completed services.


Competencies are the specific areas in which a group or individual displays capability. Competencies in business could include product quality, customer service, marketing reach, and social perception. Competencies in an individual could include spreadsheets, conflict management, specific computer programs, or administering employee benefits. The more competencies an individual or group has, the more advantages they have in competing with their peers and creating a unique offering.

Compliance (Legal)

Compliance in business relates to the adherence to relevant state, federal, and local laws, and actively taking preemptive steps to remain within legal guidelines in the future. Businesses "out of compliance" with laws and operating procedures are often fined, publicly admonished, and even temporarily or permanently suspended by overarching government agencies.

Compressed Work Week

A Compressed Work Week allows employees to undertake their entire 40-hour work week in less than the standard 5 business days. Compressed Work Weeks commonly consist of 10 4-hour shifts, allowing for 3 unworked weekend days. However, certain industries will also support 3 13-hour shifts, or even 2 20-hour shifts if the position requires the employee to be physically present or on-call.


Confidentiality is the practice of keeping certain information private due to legal, ethical, or personal requirements. In business, Confidentiality often revolves around mergers, bankruptcies, and terminations, and prevents individuals from benefitting unfairly before the information becomes publicly known. On an individual level, Confidentiality often refers to medical conditions or other personally identifying information which is protected by law in order to afford the employee privacy.


A Consultant is an expert in a specific field or area who is temporarily hired by a company in order to advise them on best practices. Consultants often charge by the hour and are extremely expensive, able to provide specialized insight into complex issues in the fields of legal, marketing, public image, and other overarching areas. Consultants may work for a firm, or operate freelance.


A Consumer is an individual who purchases a product or service. Synonym for "Customer."

Contract (Employment)

Contract employment is an agreement between an individual and a business in which a specific task or goal will be accomplished for a fixed rate of payment. Contract workers are considered temporary, employed only for the duration of the project even if said project takes multiple years. Contract employees are exempt from many standard protections such as insurance benefits and unemployment insurance due to not being full-fledged members of the company.


A copay in insurance is the fixed amount which the insurance holder pays for a specific medical practice. Basic procedures such as checkups or filling prescriptions have a designated price, typically comparatively low and usually under $100, much less expensive than without any insurance.

Corporate Culture

Corporate culture refers to the thoughts and attitudes of Senior or Executive leadership and how these beliefs affect day-to-day operations. Leadership can create a corporate culture of acceptance and diversity through hiring and promotional practices, employee resource groups and clubs, and providing personal engagement with employees to set the standards of respectful communication. However, the opposite is also true; corporate culture of selfishness, discrimination, and dishonesty can also be created as employees take these cues from their management team.

Cost of Living (Adjustment)

A Cost-of-Living Adjustment (or COLA) is an increase in cost or payment in order to keep pace with the inflation of the economy. Cost-of-Living Adjustments are best implemented on a yearly basis; due to inflation, positions which do not receive an annual Cost of Living Adjustment actually end up losing money due to the increase in the cost of housing and transportation.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is submitted alongside an employment application and resume to provide the hiring manager with additional insight into an employee's goals, experience, and competencies. No more than one page, a cover letter is a sales pitch which should be tailored to the specific company being applied for, as opposed to an all-purpose resume. Including terminology from the company's mission, vision, and values statement can show an alignment with their culture and business plan.

Coworking Space

A coworking space is a neutral office space or production area which is owned by a management company and rented out to many small businesses to be used collectively. Coworking spaces provide easy meeting grounds for teams without the extraordinary cost of renting an entire office, and are often fitted with meeting rooms, high-speed internet, and all the luxuries a standard office building would provide.


The C-suite is a collective term for the highest-ranking members of a business organization. The "C" in "C-suite" references the "Chief" job title held by most senior officials, including the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operations Officer, and the Chief Technology Officer.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a complete representation of an individual's academic credentials, research, and accomplishments, and is used when applying to a job within the Education industry. Curriculum Vitae is often incorrectly used as a synonym for a resume; a Curriculum Vitae is meant to be comprehensive, and can easily extend beyond 30 pages depending on the length of the career in question.


A customer is an individual or business who purchases a good or service from another individual or business.

Cut (Wages/Hours)

When wages or hours are cut, it means that they have been reduced against the wishes of the employee (and often management) due to financial or logistical pressure on the business.

Declining Letter (To Employer)

A declining letter is an employee's response to a job offer in which they choose not to accept employment. A declining letter can be sent due to receiving a better offer from another company, being offered a salary which is too low, or no longer being interested due to the interview process. Declining letters should be short, to the point, and cordial, and should be sent immediately upon receiving a job offer.

Deductible (Insurance)

In insurance, a deductible is the amount of money the insured must pay out of pocket before insurance will take on the majority of the cost. A lower deductible is better for the insured; with a $1,000 deductible, the insured would only have to pay $1,000 personally before the remainder was covered. However, even once a deductible is reached, certain smaller payments, or copays, will still be expected for checkups and prescription fills.

Deductions (Taxes)

When paying taxes, a deduction is any amount of money an individual is able to remove from the income which is being taxed, which lowers the overall taxes paid. Deductions can include contributions to a retirement account (such as 401k or IRA), health savings account contributions, significant medical expenses, self-employment expenses, and charitable contributions. Always consult a professional when making adjustments to tax returns.


DEI, or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, are a driving force behind social justice and many corporate goals and programs. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion represent the process of promoting individuals of different physical, national, and identity backgrounds, removing existing barriers, and recognizing and celebrating individuals for who they truly are.


A deliverable is a specific, measurable outcome (either a good or service) which is expected for a project to be considered complete.


A demotion is a temporary or permanent reduction in the title, responsibilities, and compensation of an employee, often used as a punishment and an alternative to a total termination in the hopes that an employee will quit independently.

Dental (Insurance)

Dental insurance is one of the standard trinity of employment benefits along with medical and vision. Dental insurance covers some or all of the cost of routine cleanings, oral surgery, and root canals. Dental insurance is almost always less expensive than medical coverage, while being slightly more expensive than vision insurance.

Direct Deposit

Direct deposit refers to putting money directly into a bank account as a form of payment. Employees are encouraged to sign up for direct deposit, allowing payroll to put the money directly on their bank without the need for a paper check being written, delivered, and then deposited. A routing number, account number, and bank name are often all that is needed to set up direct deposit.

Direct Report

A direct report is an employee who takes instruction from and works in the chain of command of a specified manager. Synonym for "Subordinate."


A disability is a physical or mental condition which presents an obstacle to an individual during the course of regular operations. Disabilities are overcome by creating accommodations for the affected individual in order to maximize their capabilities. Individuals with disabilities are members of a protected class and cannot be discriminated against in any aspect of employment.


A discharge occurs when one or both parties involved in a contract choose to terminate the agreement, either upon completion of the contract's terms or prematurely due to dissatisfaction with the agreement. Discharge can also specifically relate to the termination of an employment contract, resulting in an employee firing.


Discrimination occurs when one individual is unfairly denied access to goods, services, or opportunities due to protected characteristics such as their race, national origin, or religion.


Dismissal is the process of a business ending an employee's employment contract, with or without prior notice. Synonym for "Termination."


Diversity relates to the differences in experience and background between groups of people. A diverse group is comprised of varying ages, races, religions, education levels, and more, and offers greater market insight and creative power than a non-diverse group. While diversity is important, individuals must also be empowered and accepted, which is where Equity and Inclusion come into play.

Dress Code

A dress code is the expected level of formality an individual should observe when entering a professional setting. A casual dress code is the least formal, followed by smart casual, business casual (the most common), business professional, and business formal. Dress code includes the shoes, outer layer, accessories, and all aspects of the outfit, and must be observed in order to match the company culture of the business.

Drug Test

Drug testing involves collecting urine samples from employees and sending them to a lab to be analyzed for trace amounts of illegal or unauthorized substances. Drug tests are typically required at hire, occur randomly throughout the year, or are in response to a workplace accident in which drugs may have been involved. Tests typically check for marijuana, cocaine, meth, PCP, and opioids, but they can be specialized to look for additional drugs.

Dues (Union)

Dues are monthly payments made by employees to their union as a price for membership. Individuals can opt out of paying some or all dues (called objectors), but are often still covered under any collective bargaining agreements.


The economy is the total production, consumption, and trade of goods and services within an area or entity. The economy can refer to the United States economy or the global economy.

Education (Requirement)

In hiring, an education requirement is the need for a specific educational degree in order to fully meet the demands of the job. While a 4-year bachelor's degree is the most commonly-requested, master's degrees and even PhDs can sometimes be prerequisites for significantly complex employment. Many jobs will request a specific degree, but will accept any "in a related field," which would have supplied a majority of the qualifications being sought. For example, a job post requesting a degree in Communication Studies will likely accept a degree in English.


Equal Employment Opportunity (or EEO) laws prohibit discrimination in all aspects of employment based on protected characteristics such as race, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion. EEO laws are overseen by the Civil Rights Center and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, as well as the independent federal agency the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a 20- to 30-second speech on the topic of yourself, your company, or your project which provides key highlights to someone unfamiliar with them. The name comes from the expectation that even on a short elevator ride, one can still create a convincing sales pitch if adequately prepared.


An employee is an individual who works under the supervision of another person or group for the expectation of compensation.


An employer is a person, group, or organization that provides compensation to another individual in exchange for control over the individual's responsibilities for the purpose of creating a profit.

Employer of Record

The employer of record is the legally-recognized entity which provides compensation for an individual, and may be responsible for verifying details of an employee’s tenure for the purposes of tax or legal documents. Employer of record can also reference a corporation in a foreign company which handles the logistical and legal aspects of business development while allowing the company to focus on their product and sales.

Employment Gap

An employment gap on a resume is a period of time in which no work was undertaken, ranging from several months to several years. Employment gaps worry employers, as they can be seen as the employee abandoning their duties, or failing to prioritize work. However, family emergencies, medical problems, international travel, and many other situations can be legitimate causes for employment gaps, and should be addressed with any potential employer during the interview process.

End of Day (EoD)

End of day (EoD) is a common deadline for short-term workplace projects. EoD refers to 5 PM on that business day, and is the highest priority a task can be given outside of being due immediately or as soon as possible.

Enrollment Period

An enrollment period is a window of time in which an individual can sign up for insurance benefits. Open enrollment periods occur twice per year, and allow anyone to gain or switch coverage. Qualifying life events also trigger an enrollment window, and include loss of previous coverage, household changes, and relocation.


An entrepreneur is an individual who operates a new business while accepting greater than normal financial risk. Entrepreneurs often create startup companies and fund it with their own money, hoping to prove the validity of their idea before moving to venture capitalists or financing firms to accept investments.

Equal Opportunity

Equal opportunity refers to the right for any qualified individual to fully participate in all aspects of employment without any consequences arising from their protected characteristics such as nationality, race, or sexual orientation.

Equity (DEI)

Equity, in the context of DEI, is the practice of removing systemic boundaries and providing equal opportunity and access to all individuals. More than simply encouraging a diverse mix of employees, equity empowers them to succeed through promotions, trainings, social events, and more that encourage their strengths while allowing them to remain unique.

Equity (Financial)

Equity, when discussing finance, is the amount of money a company's shareholders would receive if the company was liquidated and all debts were paid, with the remainder of any profit being distributed. Essentially, it is the value of a company once all of its debt and liability are removed.


Ethnicity is a protected characteristic and relates to a common cultural background of a group of people. While race often considers the physical similarities between groups, ethnicity refers to cultural, social, and linguistic similarities.


An evergreen job posting is a position which is permanently or repeatedly made publicly available in order to continually have new candidates available. Evergreen positions are posted either due to high turnover within one position, or the need to constantly hire the same position in different locations. Call centers, retail, and healthcare organizations often post evergreen positions to keep a steady supply of candidates in the pipeline.

Executive (Level)

Business executives are the leaders of company departments who work together to make guiding and overarching decisions and strategies for the company's future. The Chief Executive Officer, the Executive Vice President, and the Chief Information Officer are all executive positions, regardless of if the word "Executive" appears within them.

Exempt Employee

An exempt employee does not qualify for overtime payment after 40 worked hours in one week due to being paid a set yearly salary which does not correspond to their number of hours worked.

Exit Interview

An exit interview is conducted by a business with an employee once the employee leaves a position of employment. Exit interviews are more frequently conducted when the parting is amicable, and can vary greatly in time and content depending on the employee's position and tenure. Exit interviews cover employee experiences, areas of improvement for the company, and insight into why the employee is choosing to leave.


An export is a good or resource which is created in one area, then moved to a different area to be sold. Exports typically refer to products which are sold outside of the country of origin, but individual states can still export within one nation, such as Iowa exporting corn to California.


An externship is an opportunity for individuals still in training to follow a professional in their field throughout the daily operations of their business in order to gain first-hand understanding of the job. Externships are similar to internships in that they are often part of an academic program and require unpaid work, but are typically shorter than internships and can be less formal.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act has been in place since the 1930's and outlines the specific protections of workers in regard to scheduling and payment. The FLSA establishes minimum wage ($7.25 as of 2009), overtime pay after 40 hours for non-exempt employees, hours worked, record keeping, and child labor laws.


An employee being fired means that their contract of employment is being terminated by their employer against the will of the employee. Synonym for "Dismissed."

Flexible Schedule

A flexible schedule includes the standard number of work hours (40 for full time), but allows the start and stop times of work to be decided by the employee, allowing them to choose when the 40 hours of work are completed instead of the standard 9 AM to 5 PM.


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows certain employees to take an unpaid but protected leave of absence from their employment in order to deal with the medical condition of themselves of a loved one.


When following-up after an interview, it is best to do so in stages. Immediately, within 24 hours, a thank you note should be sent. If there is no response after 1-2 weeks, a second message is appropriate. If after another 1-2 weeks there is still no response, it is possible to send a final follow-up, but it is likely that the position is no longer available.

For-Profit Business

A for-profit business exists with the intention to earn more income than debt in order to provide payments to management, employees, shareholders, and investors.


A franchise is a privately- or independently-owned instance of a larger or well-known chain. Franchises are common in retail and food service, allowing the parent company to increase branding and market penetration while allowing the franchise owner to access the publicity and established foundation of the brand.


Fraud is the act of stealing money under the guise of doing business. While typically intentional, fraud can be committed unintentionally, though this in no way excuses it. Fraud can include Payroll Fraud (falsifying employee timesheets or payment records), Asset Misappropriation (spending company money on personal items), and Tax Fraud (reporting incorrect earnings to lower the amount of taxes owed).


A freelance worker is one who is not tied to a specific company, but works independently on contract work, typically in the short term.

Fringe Benefit

Fringe benefits are beneficial offerings given by employers to employees outside of standard wages or compensation. Fringe benefits are meant to increase the value of a position for potential and current employees without directly paying them more, and can include free meals, time off, insurance, and stock options.

Full-Time (Employment)

A full-time employee is one who is scheduled for at least 130 hours of service per month, typically 36-40 hours per week. Full-time employees are offered insurance benefits, PTO, often have set schedules, and are the only group qualified to receive a salaried wage.

Functional Resume

A functional resume is organized by the placing the most relevant experience first. Functional resumes are used when switching to a new industry, or when the most recent job experience is less relevant on an application than a prior position. Functional is the opposite of a chronological resume, in which the most recent experience is listed first.


A furlough is a temporary suspension of an employee's duties with the understanding that they are intended to be reinstated. Furloughs are most common during company restructuring or economic turmoil, situations in which dramatic changes are made to the organization as a whole and there is either not enough work or not enough pay for all employees. Furloughed employees may work dramatically reduced hours, or be completely removed on an unpaid leave of absence.

Gig Economy

The gig economy refers to the rise of temporary or short-term contract work as opposed to permanent or long-term employment. The gig economy is propelled by companies such as Uber, Doordash, and Task Rabbit which use thousands of wide-spread, decentralized individuals as their workforce while refraining from any employment protections such as insurance or PTO.

Goods and Services

"Goods and Services" is the catchall term for anything created within an economic system. Goods refers to any physical products, while services includes any activities, instructions, or seminars in which information or access to knowledge is being sold. "Goods and Services" is mean to include all physical and non-physical offerings for sale within a group or collective.

Google Meet (Communication Platform)

Google Meet is an online video conferencing platform. While it is sometimes viewed as less professional than Zoom or Microsoft Teams, Google Meet allows anyone to create a free meeting space, and does not require attendees to make a designated account in order to access the meeting. Useful for smaller teams.

Great Resignation

The Great Resignation was a mass voluntary employment exit of hundreds of thousands of Americans beginning in 2021. Initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation is a response to stagnating wages, lack of promotional opportunity, and a demand for flexible and remote work schedules. Hospitality, education, and healthcare are the industries most heavily impacted.

Green Card

A Permanent Resident Card (colloquially known as a Green Card) is a federal document certifying a non-U.S. National's legal right to live and work in the United States in a permanent capacity. A Green Card must be earned through a citizenship test, marriage to a naturalized citizen, or less often through work arrangements.

Green Jobs

Green jobs are positions of employment which create goods or services with the purpose of environmental benefit or conservation. Solar power, organic agriculture, and electronic vehicles are examples of green jobs.

Gross (Profit)

Gross profit refers to the total amount of money earned without accounting for any expenses. "Gross" can refer to the earnings from any undertaking without considering any debts incurred in order to earn them.

Group Interview

Group interviews are interviews undertaken in a capacity greater than one-on-one. While a group interview can include multiple interviewers, this is typically called a "panel interview," and group interviews often mean multiple candidates interviewing at the same time. Group interviews allow employers to save time by meeting with multiple candidates simultaneously, as well as direct comparison between answers. Group interviews are often stressful for candidates, as there is less time to answer questions and standing out with unique answers becomes much more important.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are specific, demonstrable skills which an individual can possess and accurately measure. Hard skills can be both learned and taught, and include knowledge of specific computer programs, budgeting, search engine optimization, and more. They are the opposite of soft skills, which are innate and difficult to teach and measure, such as problem solving, professional communication, and empathy.


A hazard is any potential source of harm or negative health affect which can affect someone or something. Hazard pay relates to increased wages with the understanding that the work being undertaken presents increased risk to the employee.


A headhunter is a colloquial term for a recruiter, someone who seeks out or hunts down the specific candidate desired by a company. Headhunters can be independent or work for a firm which specializes in recruitment.

Health (Insurance)

Health insurance is the most greatly-desired fringe benefit provided by US employers, and offers insurance coverage for any medical needs not classified as vision or dental. General checkups and prescription refills all the way up to invasive surgery and chemotherapy are included within health insurance coverage. While there are ways to receive non-employer-sponsored coverage, employment is by far the simplest and most cost-effective way to receive insurance in the US. Due to its importance, it is also the most expensive insurance offered by a wide margin.

Health Savings Account

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a personal savings account which can be created in anticipation of healthcare costs. An HSA allows its owner to deposit and withdraw money tax free when used for qualifying medical expenses, such as deductibles and copays.

Hiring Freeze

A hiring freeze is a total stoppage of any recruitment activities by a company, regardless of where a candidate is in the process. A freeze can occur as a result of significant market changes, rumors of bankruptcy or acquisition, or at the end of a financial period as new budgets are determined.

Hiring Manager

The hiring manager is the individual responsible for the ultimate decision regarding employment for a position. Hiring managers almost always come from the department for which the position is being hired, and work with Human Resources to determine the duties, qualifications, and expectations of the position, as well as conduct interviews to acquire firsthand knowledge of the most qualified candidate.

HMO (Insurance Network)

A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is an insurance classification in which only doctors contracted with the HMO will accept its insurance. HMOs restrict coverage to specified providers and geographical areas, and cost less as a result. A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is the opposite, allowing unrestricted coverage for a higher price.


A holiday is a day which the government has designated as free from work or school. Certain industries, such as retail, will remain open on a majority of or even every holiday, while business industries often observe all major holidays. Holidays of significance in which most or all business are anticipated to be closed (such as Christmas) are called "bank holidays" and suggest that if the bank is closed on that day, so too is our company.

Holiday Pay

Holiday pay is an increased employee wage corresponding to worked holidays. Holiday pay is a buffer for employees who have to work on days when other industries are closed, and help provide an incentive to avoid mass employee callouts. "Time and a half," or 1.5x base hourly pay, is the standard holiday rate.

Horizontal Integration

Horizontal integration is the process of a company acquiring more market share and control within a specific aspect of an industry. A soda bottling plant on the east coast purchasing a plant in California in order to achieve national distribution would be an example of horizontal integration. Conducted through a merger or acquisition, horizontal integration offers a company greater control over that layer of production, but can create an illegal monopoly if the business becomes too large.


A Human Resources Information System (HRIS) is the computer program used by a Human Resources team to track and control data related to employees. HRIS's are extremely important, as they contain medical data, salary information, schedules, banking information, and untold amounts of identifying information for every employee. Workday, SAP, and Oracle are all HRIS examples.

Human Resources

The Human Resources (HR) department is the business division responsible for the management of human capitol in the form of employees. Human Resources oversees candidate recruitment, onboarding, benefits, personnel issues, policy creation, and termination, and are responsible for a majority of the sensitive information held by the company in regard to employees.

Hybrid (Work Schedule)

A hybrid work schedule combines in-person and remote work to create a weekly schedule containing both. Typically structured with a 3/2 ratio (3 days at the office, 2 days at home or vice versa), some companies will offer a 4/1 split, or even only require in-person attendance every other week. Hybrid work schedules are increasingly popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in which many positions went fully remote.

I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

The I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification document (I-9) is a legally-mandated step in the onboarding process in which an employee must provide documentation proving their identity and authorization to work in the United States. Documents establishing identity include a driver's license, school ID card, or voter registration card. Authorization to work is established by a Social Security card, birth certificate, or Native American tribal document. Documents which prove both include a US Passport, a Permanent Resident card, or an I-766 Employment Authorization Document


Importing is the process of purchasing a good or service from a different geographical location in order to sell it locally. Importing is typically done from one country to another, but can occur within the boundaries of a single country, such as Maine importing oranges from Florida.


As part of DEI, Inclusion is the acceptance and empowerment of a person for their true self. Diversity brings different groups into the room, and Equity gives them equal access to opportunity, but Inclusion unites everyone within the same social fold, allowing for inside jokes, brainstorming, and genuine conversation without changing aspects of one's physical or social persona in order to blend in.


Income is the total amount of money a group or individual is able to earn during a set amount of time, including wages, pensions, and investments. Depending on context, income can also refer only to wages accrued directly in exchange for work.

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor is an employee who is hired on for a specific outcome and is left in charge of the schedule and cost. Independent contractors are less expensive than standard employees, but their costs can vary widely, and offer the employer little to no control over the project itself. Synonym for "Freelance."

Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a savings account for retirement which allows the user to avoid paying taxes on included funds until they are removed from the account at a much later date. While a 401k is controlled by an employer, an IRA is managed by the individual.


A group of companies, enterprises, and individuals which are related in their means of production and created offerings for purchase. "Agriculture," "healthcare," and "retail" are all examples of industries.


Inflation is the broad and consistent increase in the prices of goods and services over time. Inflation is typically caused by either a demand for a good that is greater than the economy's ability to produce it (spiking the price of the existing items), or when the increased cost of materials and labor necessitates an increase in purchasing cost in order to offset production cost.

Informational Interview

An informational interview is conducted between a candidate and a current employee at a company of interest. The interview's purpose is for the candidate to gain a better understanding of the position and expectations, and while it can assist in the hiring process, is not intended to result in the candidate being offered a job in the way that most interviews are.


An intermediary is a person or group who operates as a common or middle ground between two opposing parties, typically for the purpose of providing non-biased input in order to reach an agreement. Synonym for "Mediator."

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for overseeing tax laws and enforcing relevant payments from all United States businesses and individuals.


An internship is a period of limited employment for a trainee or student, frequently unpaid, in order to provide on-the-job experience prior to fully joining the workforce.

Job Board

A job board is a location in which employers can post their currently-open positions and candidates looking for employment can find and apply to them. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Monster are examples of online Job Boards.

Job Description

A job description is a document which summarizes the responsibilities and qualifications needed to succeed in a position of employment, most commonly used when creating a job posting in hiring, or discussing a raise or promotion with a manager.

Job Fair

A job fair (aka a job expo or career fair) is a gathering of schools, businesses, and recruiters with the intent to provide information on open positions to potential candidates in order to encourage them to apply.

Job Scam

A job scam is the intentional misleading of a candidate in order to secure money or information from them. Job scams are perpetrated by the scammer pretending to represent a legitimate company, sometimes going through the entire interview process. The scam comes from requesting Personally Identifying Information such as a Social Security Number in order to commit identity theft, or requesting the employee to pay for equipment and then terminating communication as soon as payment is received.

Jury Duty (Leave)

Jury duty is the requirement for a US citizen to serve on a jury during a legal proceeding to provide unbiased input on the defendant’s innocence. When an employee is summoned for jury duty, their employer is legally bound to let them attend and cannot retaliate in any way for missed work. Additionally, individual state laws outline if the employer is required to pay the employee during their mandated absence.

Just Cause

Just cause is the expectation that any disciplinary measures taken against an employee, especially in the case of a termination, had a logical and fair reasoning behind them. Prior notification to the employee, equal treatment amongst all staff, and proof of employee guilt are all factors when establishing just cause. Just cause is a protection offered by employment unions, as otherwise employees can be fired at will.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are significant metrics and targets which are tracked by companies in order to ensure adequate growth and financial income. KPIs must be specific and measurable in order to be effective, and should relate to the goals of the employee and the business. "New Accounts Opened Per Quarter" and "Five-Star Business Reviews Attained" are both concrete KPIs which can be tracked and understood, while "Great Customer Service" is much harder to solidify.


Labor is the force of production which is created by employees as they produce goods and services. Labor includes the physical aspects of creation, such as picking produce or assembling a machine, but also includes the mental labor of designing and creating the systems which are used in production, and the social component of coordinating the production and distribution of created goods.


A layoff is the termination of an employee due to a lack of work, funding, or a reorganization of the business, and is unrelated to the performance of the employee.

Lead (Prospective Customer)

A lead is a prospective customer who is interested in purchasing the product or service created by a company. A lead could be someone who has excitedly filled out an online application (a hot lead), someone browsing the table at a product demonstration (a warm lead), or someone who has only followed your business on social media (a cold lead), and can have extremely varied levels of willingness to purchase immediately. The entire goal of a sales position is to convert leads into customers.


Leave is time in which an employee typically scheduled but is authorized, either by law or contract, not to attend their job. Vacation and PTO are both forms of paid leave, while unpaid leave may be offered by management in times of medical or family emergency. Regardless, leave must be approved by a supervisor, even if it is legally protected, so the employee's absence can be scheduled for.


Liabilities are legal debts which are owed to a third party. Liability is typically mentioned in a legal context, as failing to prevent the reasonable possibility for harm can create legal liability in the event of an injury. Liability is also considered in protecting the medical and financial data of employees held by employers, and in the event of falling out of accordance with safety and business regulations.

Licenses and Certifications

Licenses and certifications is a section of a resume in which any relevant credentials can be displayed. Licenses and certifications should only be included when they are relevant to the position applied for; a lifeguard would include their CPR certification, a security officer would include a license to operate their firearm, but an administrative assistant would not include their driver's license unless travel was an expected part of the job.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is money paid to a beneficiary in the event of the policyholder's death.

Long Term Disability

Long term disability insurance is income for an employee who is unable to work due to a condition accrued during their employment, and activates after short term disability insurance has expired. Long term disability insurance is used in instances in which the employee can not only no longer do their job, but can no longer do any job. After providing medical proof of disability, the employee receives payment until they are recovered or the policy expires.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is the automation of processes using computerized systems which do not rely on direct instruction in order to functionally imitate human behavior. By analyzing data sets using algorithms, machine learning programs can make predictions about the best course of action.


Management refers to the employees in a business with greater responsibility for daily operations and one or more subordinate employees under their supervision. Management can also refer to all upper-level employees, such as "I'll check with Management."

Marital Status

Marital status refers to the employee's current relationship with a significant other. Marital status is divided into 3 main groups: Currently married, never married, and divorced/separated/widowed. Marital status is of significant importance in the allocation of insurance benefits. Individuals cannot be discriminated against due to their marital status.

Master's Degree

A master's degree is an educational certification which takes 2-3 years to receive and is gained after completion of a bachelor's degree. A master's degree further deepens the understanding gained from a bachelor's program, and is mandatory if the individual is choosing to pursue their doctorate.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is a period of approved absence for an employee in order to care for a newborn child. United States maternity leave is federally mandated to last 12 work weeks, but is not required to be paid.

Meal Period

A meal period is a period of unpaid, non-work time in which an employee is afforded the opportunity to eat or attend to personal matters. Meal periods are not federally guaranteed, and individual states create their own guidance regarding the minimum worked time required to qualify for and the duration of meal periods.


A mediator is an unbiased third party who is brought in to help settle a disagreement between two or more parties. Mediation is often much less expensive and public than settling a dispute in court.


Medicaid is a joint insurance program between the federal and state government which supplies health care coverage to individuals with low income. Due to being operated at the state level, the coverage and enrollment requirements vary greatly based on geographic location.


Medicare is federally-funded health insurance for individuals over the age of 65, or under the age of 65 if affected by certain medical conditions. It provides a partial payment for medical services, hospital visits, and certain prescriptions.


A mentor is an individual who takes on a social leadership role in order to foster the development of someone with less experience in their industry. Mentorship is a frequently informal position and relies on the personal connection between the mentor and mentee rather than the two being assigned or obligated to each other.

Military Leave

Military leave is federally-required time off for any employee who enters into military service while working for any business, regardless of industry or size, and requires the business to rehire the employee upon their return from enlistment. Military leave is guaranteed by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage is the lowest possible wage which can legally be paid by a business to an employee in exchange for labor. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since July of 2009, while individual states are free to set their own minimum wages, so long as they are higher than the federal rate.

Mission, Vision, Values Statements

A company's mission statement is a brief explanation of an organization's purpose, intention, and reason for existence. A vision statement is a future-oriented overview of a company's hopes and aspirations, as well as a guide for the proper course of action to reach them. A values statement is a list of the core beliefs and principles which are held by an organization and shape its practices and culture.


Moonlighting is the practice of working a second job outside of standard 9-5 business hours. Employees often moonlight at a lower-paying, lower-responsibility job in order to supplement their main income.


The NASDAQ stock market is a New York-based stock exchange, the second largest in the world with an $18 million dollar market cap. NASDQ stands for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations.

National Origin

National origin is a protected characteristic in business which refers to an individual's place of birth. National origin often refers to individuals born outside of the United States, but can also refer to culture, ancestry, and linguistics.

Native/Natural Born (Citizen)

A native or natural born citizen is an individual who was given United States citizenship at birth and is not required to go through any naturalization process to live and work in the United States.

Net (Profit)

Net profit is the true profit gained from an endeavor once any incurred debts and expenses have already been completely accounted for. Net Profit is the antonym of Gross Profit.


Networking is the exchange of ideas and ideals among individuals with a shared personal or professional interest, typically in an informal setting. Networking often has the connotation of increasing the amount of business contacts an individual has for the purpose of utilizing them for sales or connections in the future.


A non-compete clause in an employment contract specifies that after the employee leaves the company for any reason, they are not permitted to work with or advise any direct competitors within the business's field. Non-compete clauses can last for varying amounts of time and can prevent employees from finding new jobs; certain states such as California do not enforce non-compete clauses.

Nonexempt Employee

A nonexempt employee is a worker whose rate of pay is affected by the overtime pay requirements occurring after 40 hours in one workweek, as outlined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Nonprofit (Business)

A nonprofit business is an organization which exists for a public or social benefit, and any revenue exceeding expenses must be put back into the organization's operations, not taken by private parties.


Notice is a formal documentation of the intent of a person or group within a business setting. Notice can include Notice of Termination, in which a company or employee provides advanced warning of employment termination. Being "Put on Notice" can imply a formal warning of dissatisfaction of employee conduct, and is often the final stage before being formally terminated.

Objector (Union)

A union objector is an employee in a workplace covered by a union who is not considered a full member and pays a smaller or nonexistent share of dues, but is still protected under collective bargaining.


An occupation is a legitimate employment, permanent or temporary, in which an individual exchanges their labor or knowledge for wages.

Offer Letter

An offer letter is given to an employee by an employer at the end of the interview process as a formal proposal of employment. Offer letters will include a job title, start date, salary, and benefits, and may potentially include a schedule. An employee signing and returning an offer letter constitutes preliminary agreement until an employment contract can be signed, while countering with a different salary will begin the process of negotiations.

Office Suite (Microsoft)

Office Suite familiarity is a common job requirement which refers to the Microsoft Office Suite of computer products. Office Suite most frequently refers to Word, the text processor, Excel, the spreadsheet processor, and PowerPoint, the presentation tool, but can also include Outlook email, Publisher print layout, One Note storage, and Teams communications.


Onboarding is the process of fully integrating a new employee into the processes and programs of a company during the hiring process. Onboarding is handled by Human Resources and the employee's manager, and can informs the employee of the company through computer programs and daily expectations, and informs the company of the employee through identity verification, benefits administration, and banking arrangements.

On-Call (Employment)

On-call employment requires an employee to be accessible by their employer and ready to work even when not scheduled. On-call employment is common in unpredictable positions such as healthcare workers, emergency workers, and infrastructure technicians; employees who are "on-call" must be compensated for their time, but it is often significantly less than their standard wage and is only required to meet or exceed the minimum wage.

Online Interview

An online interview is a discussion of a candidate's qualifications for a position using the internet as a meeting space. While online interviews can rarely take place entirely over text, and sometimes require only audio, it is a best practice to assume that any online interview will require full video and audio. Zoom, Teams, Skype, and Google Meet are common online interviewing platforms; candidates should investigate online meeting spaces ahead of interviews to verify the technical setup, equipment required, and need for a personal account in order to access the meeting room.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 to oversee worker health by establishing overarching industry regulations, training, assistance, and education. Violations of OSHA procedure often occur due to practicality (workers finding an easier, more dangerous method), cost (failure to purchase licensure or safety equipment), or intention (workers deliberately violating guidelines for the purposes of comedy or ego).


Being overqualified as a candidate means having greater education, experience, or knowledge than is called for in a job description. While companies will appreciate a candidate who exceeds expectations, an overqualified employee can easily find a better job or demand more money, which can lead to companies avoiding candidates who are too well-equipped out of fear of being extorted.


Overtime is any required work undertaken by an employee outside of their regularly-scheduled hours, and requires a minimum of 1.5x hourly payment once an employee has worked 40 hours within 7 days. Salaried employees are given a set rate of pay regardless of hours worked, and are therefore exempt from any overtime requirements.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

Paid Time Off (PTO) is accrued time to be used by an employee in order to take an absence from work while receiving full compensation at no penalty. PTO can include sick and vacation time, and while there are no federal minimum requirements, some states have established regulations which set the minimum time which can be offered and a requirement of paying unused days upon employment termination.

Panel Interview

A panel interview occurs when one candidate is interviewed by two or more people at a time, typically representing different departments or key stakeholders within a company. Panel interviews can save time on the company's part by allowing multiple decision makers to participate at once, and leads to significantly more observation and conclusion regarding a candidate from a single interaction.

Parent Company

A parent company is a business or corporation which owns a controlling stake in smaller subsidiary companies, allowing the parent company to oversee and guide their goals, operations, and values. For example, PepsiCo is the parent company of Doritos, Starbucks, and Aquafina.

Part-Time (Employment)

A part-time employee is regularly scheduled to provide labor for a business, but less than other workers who are Full Time, typically no more than 32 hours per week. Part-Time employees are not eligible for benefits, are rarely promoted, and are not expected to be able to afford to live on one Part-Time salary.

Passive Candidate

A passive candidate is a potential employee who is not currently posting their resume, applying for jobs, or soliciting interviews. Passive candidate recruitment is increasingly becoming more common, as a majority of the best candidates for an open position are already employed. Offering better benefits, pay, and perks can potentially circumvent the hassle of the hiring process entirely, but companies rarely respond well to having their employees poached.

Pay Period

The pay period is the period of time in which any hours worked by an employee are paid out by their employer, including any bonuses or overtime accrued. Pay periods are almost always fixed, typically encompassing two weeks with weekly and monthly pay periods being less common.


A paycheck is the total wage given to an employee at the end of a pay period for all hours worked within it, having already subtracted state and federal tax withholdings and any insurance benefits. An employee may also request that an additional amount be automatically removed for contributions to retirement or a health savings account. Paychecks can be delivered in printed form to employees, but it is far easier to set up the ability to have the paycheck directly deposited in a bank account.


Payroll refers to the record of all employees in a company and their wages to be paid for hours worked during a pay period. Payroll can also refer to the members of the accounting department responsible for overseeing employee payments, as in "You may want to check with Payroll."


A pension is a regularly-scheduled payment which funds a person's retirement, drawn from an investment fund the person has built up for that purpose over the course of their career, such as a 401k.

Performance Metrics

Performance metrics are sets of data which track progress toward goals in a business using productivity, business sales, and employee activity in order to evaluate current obstacles to success. Performance metrics can evaluate a business' profitability, employee efficiency, or project cost with the goal of enforcing best practices.

Perk (Benefit)

A perk in business is any benefit gained from working which is not specifically a salary. Health Insurance can be considered a perk even though it is paid for, but so can a housing allowance or a free gym membership.

Personally Identifiable Information

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is data which can lead to the identification of an individual. Sensitive PII contains direct information such as a Social Security Number or medical records, while non-sensitive PII is publicly accessible but still identifying, such as a zip code or date of birth. Businesses require substantial PII from their employees, and are tasked with protecting it to avoid compromising the livelihood and safety of their staff.


A doctorate of philosophy (PhD) is the highest level of academic accreditation an individual can receive in the United States. Requiring a master's degree, a doctorate program can take an additional 3 to 8 years, and requires a dissertation in which a thesis is successfully argued in order to graduate.

Phone Interview

A phone interview is a discussion of a candidate's qualifications for a position which takes place entirely over the phone. Phone interviews are often a preliminary screening, establishing an individual's resume without significant time investment. Remote interviews of more significance have begun taking place online, utilizing video platforms in order to gain a deeper connection with the candidate.


A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a formal disciplinary document which outlines ongoing issues with an employee's job performance, as well as specific steps in order to work on those shortcomings. PIPs are used in place of firing an underperforming employee, and require consistent communication and management in order to effectively grow the employee. PIPs are also used as proof during an employee termination that all due effort was put into helping them perform their job.

Pipeline (Recruitment)

A recruitment pipeline is the process of sourcing, screening, and selecting a candidate for a job. The recruitment pipeline includes advertisements, recruiters, interviews, and committee reviews, and encompasses the entire hiring process up until onboarding.

Pipeline (Talent)

The talent pipeline is the current group of qualified, prepared employees who can fill a position as soon as it becomes vacant. Having a talent pipeline avoids the need for a lengthy hiring process, but requires consistent advertising, market research, internal review, and time investment in order to be continually ready. Employees can come from high-promise individuals within the company, as well as the group identified through advertisements, career fairs, and interviews.

Poaching (Hiring)

Poaching is the act of hiring the employees of the direct competitor of a business, or the former employer of an employee. Employees targeted for poaching often have significant industry knowledge or value, and are just as much of a loss to their current employer as they are a gain to their new one. Poaching is often seen as a dirty business practice, especially if the employee doing the poaching was fired or wronged by the company they are now "stealing" from.

Poverty Line

The Poverty Line is the amount of income which is estimated to be necessary in order to support oneself financially; anyone who makes less than this amount is considered to be in poverty. As of 2022, this amount was roughly $15,000 for one individual.

PPO (Insurance Network)

A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) health insurance plan allows the user to receive coverage for providers outside of their network, but still provides the greatest cost breaks to providers who are in-network. By allowing greater coverage, PPO insurance is often more expensive than its counterpart, HMO insurance.

Premium (Insurance)

An insurance premium is the cost an enrolled user pays on a monthly basis in order to retain coverage. A Premium is calculated based on the user's age, location, history, and lifestyle, and can vary greatly between individuals.


A probation period is a temporary length of time at the beginning of a new worker's employment (usually 1-3 months) in which the worker is tested for goodness of fit for the position. Probationary periods often offer little protection against termination, and can often unlock insurance benefits and slightly higher wages upon completion. Being "Placed on Probation" during employment can serve as final notice prior to termination, and is a warning for the employee to behave perfectly if they wish to keep their job.


Profit is the amount of money gained through a business' operations. Gross Profit includes all the money earned, while Net Profit is all money remaining once debts and expenses are paid.

Promotion (Advertising)

An advertising promotion is a strategy for boosting sales in the short term by increasing the value of a purchase, typically through lowering the item cost or bundling an additional item or value in with a standard purchase.

Promotion (Employment)

A promotion is an increase in business title and salary in exchange for increased responsibility and oversight in a place of employment, typically gained as a reward for exemplary performance in the employee's current role.

Protected Class

A protected class is a group of individuals who are united by a characteristic over which they have no control, such as age, race, gender, physical ability, or sexual orientation. Protected Classes are legally-recognized categories of employees who cannot be discriminated against during the employment process due to one or more of their protected characteristics.

Qualifying Life Event

In insurance, a qualifying life event is a special circumstance which allows an individual to change their health insurance outside of standard enrollment periods. Qualifying life events can include gaining a dependent through birth or adoption, moving, loss of previous coverage, and changes in marital status.

Quarter (Calendar)

A quarter in business is a three-month period within an overall financial year for a company. The 4 Quarters are January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December. Quarters are often shortened to just Q, as in "Q4," and business goals and progress metrics are often judged on their success over these 3-month periods and then reviewed in quarterly reports.


Quitting in business refers to the termination of an employment agreement by an employee, typically without notice. Quitting has a negative connotation, and implies a sudden and unexpected exit by the employee without a formal notice of resignation allowing for replacement planning. A full employee resignation, complete with paperwork, notice, and an exit interview, is much preferred by any business.


A sales quota is a specific number or target which a salesperson is expected to achieve during a set period of time, as determined by their company. A quota can be daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly, and coming in "under quota" can lead to performance improvement or even disciplinary action.


Race refers to the groups in which an individual identifies with or belongs, or is perceived to belong in the eyes of the populace or community. Much less scientific than the anthropological or scientific distinctions, race in business refers to the overarching social groups to which an employee may belong, and is one of the protected categories which is illegal to discriminate against. In the census, race is grouped into the categories of White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, but distinctions of race can go much deeper on an individual level.


A recession is a significant and overarching economic downturn lasting more than a few months, and is often marked by the fall of gross domestic product, employment, and investment simultaneously.


A recruiter is an individual in charge of identifying potential applicants for a position, screening their qualifications, and encouraging them to apply. Recruiters can work for a company internally, work for an external firm, or operate freelance, and use online spaces as well as job fairs and networking events in order to identify candidates.


A redundant position is a job which has become unnecessary for the operations of the business. Redundancy is often associated with machines taking over positions previously occupied by humans, but redundancy can also be caused by company mergers, changes in finance, and relocation.

Reference (Person)

A reference is an individual associated with a candidate who confirms their aptitude for the position they are potentially being hired for. References are almost always professional, often from a management or senior position, and offer context on the employee's greatest strengths and qualifications during their previous position. Infrequently, references can come from an individual outside of a professional context, such as a religious figure or charity organizer, but personal or character references are often less heavily weighted than professional ones.

Referral Bonus

A referral bonus is given to an employee who recommends a candidate who goes on to be hired for a position. Referral bonuses allow companies to save significant cost on advertising and recruitment, and referred employees consistently perform better and last longer than hires from any other source.


Reimbursement is the process of spending funds on a professional purchase which are then paid back by the company. Reimbursement often occurs when employees accrue expenses during travel, or need to purchase an immediate item for a business need; the employee is able to make the necessary purchase, and with documentation such as a receipt, the company pays them back at a later date. Reimbursement can also refer to a customer paying full price for an item, then sending in a coupon or receipt for a rebate from the manufacturer.

Rejection Letter

A rejection letter is sent to a candidate at the end of a hiring process to inform them that they were not selected for the job. Rejection letters are often short and provide little detail as a way to protect the company from accusations of discrimination, and are sent as soon as the employee who did receive the position has formally accepted.


Relocation is the process of moving in order to begin or continue employment at a business. Relocation expenses can sometimes be covered when hiring for mid- to senior-level positions, but almost never for low-level positions.


Resignation is the formal notice of an employee discontinuing their employment. A resignation notice often outlines a minimum of two weeks before an employee's last day, more if the position being resigned from is senior-level. Resignation typically implies that the employer and employee are on neutral to good terms, though a forced resignation can occur in place of firing a high-ranking or public employee in order to avoid scrutiny.

Rest Period

A rest period is a designated, paid amount of time in which an employee is allowed to fully take a break from their duties, typically 10 minutes every 4 hours. Rest periods are granted at the state level, and only nine states currently have defined rest periods: CA, CO, IL, KY, MN, NV, OR, VT, WA


A resume is a formal summary of an individual's professional history and accomplishments, their education, certifications, and any additional qualifications for a position. A resume is rarely over one page, and can be organized with either the most recent or the most relevant information listed first.


Retirement is the act of an employee fully leaving their place or industry of work in a permanent capacity, typically due to age or having enough money saved to no longer require employment. The traditional age of retirement in the US is 65, as this is when benefit programs such as Social Security become accessible.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is a retirement saving plan which allows an individual to contribute post-tax income, of which earnings and withdrawals become tax-free after the account holder reaches the age of 59.5 years.


A salary is a fixed, recurring payment made to an employee in exchange for labor which is not affected by the total hours they work. Salaries are often presented in annual terms, frequently to mid-level and upper-level positions or those in white-collar fields, and are typically paid on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.


A schedule is an outline of the specific times and durations an employee is expected to be fully engaged in their workload. Schedules can change on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in industries such as retail or food service, or have a consistent 9 AM to 5 PM format for office and administrative positions. Salaried employees are often asked to work beyond their standard schedules, as they are not paid overtime for exceeding their anticipated hours.

Screening (Hiring)

Screening in hiring is the initial process of quickly removing unqualified applicants. Screening interviews are often extremely short, sometimes over the phone, and consist of only a few short questions which establish baseline qualifications, such as experience in an industry or familiarity with a computer program. Those candidates who pass a screening interview are moved to the hiring manager for at least one more in-depth discussion.

Screening Interview

A screening interview is the first step in the hiring process in which a large group of candidates is interviewed quickly to determine their basic qualifications. Those who interview well and hold the needed qualities are passed on to a more in-depth second-round interview, while a majority of candidates are "screened out" and removed from the process.

Seasonal (Employment)

Seasonal employment refers to positions, typically part-time, which are only filled during certain points of year in order to meet increased workload, with the expectation that employment will terminate at the end of the busy period. Seasonal employment can include hiring additional retail workers during December to keep up with the holidays, or additional accountants during tax season.


A sector is a broad section of the economy in which multiple industries, each comprised of multiple companies, are grouped by general business practices. While there is some variance in definition, sectors are often regarded in four primary categories: the Primary Sector (responsible for harvesting resources), the Secondary Sector (responsible for manufacturing and construction), the Third (Tertiary) Sector (responsible for services, such as retail and entertainment) and the Fourth (Quaternary) Sector (responsible for intellectual development, including education and government positions).


A self-employed individual is someone who provides goods or services independent of a corporation or business paying their wages; synonym for "Freelance." Self-employed workers have greater control over their pricing and scheduling, but sacrifice employment benefits such as employer-sponsored health insurance and tax withholdings.


Severance, often referred to as a severance package, is the final compensation and benefits given to an employee by their employer once their employment relationship has concluded. Severance packages include final wages, any accrued PTO, outstanding expenses for reimbursement, and may potentially offer assistance in locating new employment.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to the physical or emotional attraction experienced by one individual for another. Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic, meaning it cannot be discriminated against during the hiring process; in addition to who the individual is attracted to, sexual orientation can sometimes include gender identity, how the individual identifies and expresses themselves in relation to societal expectations for traditionally male and female roles.


Shadowing is the process of following an individual through their daily operations in order to understand their job or their workload. Shadowing is often used to help new employees see what duties they will have, or even by prospective employees to verify if the job is of interest to them. Shadowing can also be done as part of an evaluation, tracking how an employee's time is used for either celebratory or disciplinary measures.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability insurance is a payment for an employee unable to complete their job duties for an extended period due to a medical condition (illness or injury). Short-term disability insurance is traditionally associated with non-workplace related mishaps, as injuries on the job are traditionally covered by Worker's Compensation. While only offering a percentage of traditional wages, Short-term disability can help indisposed workers to cover expenses, typically for 13-26 weeks before long-term disability insurance is required.

Sick Leave

Sick leave is an employee's (often unexpected) absence from work due to an illness of themselves or their families. Sick leave can be paid by the employer depending on the business' PTO plan, but will often go unpaid.

Slack (Communication)

Slack is a communication platform which allows for communal project management divided into multiple different communication channels for each stage of the project.

Smart Casual (Dress Code)

Smart Casual is a dress code between Casual and Business Casual. Smart Casual is meant to invoke more formality than casual, but is appropriate for after-hours office meetups and offsite lunches. Smart Casual can include blue jeans, but is commonly seen with khakis and grays, blazers, sweaters, and nice sneakers. T-shirts, shorts, and sandals are too informal, and ties, dresses, and vests are too formal.

Social Security

Social Security (or Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)) is a federal payment program designed to assist retired workers and those with disabilities. Retired workers who have paid in for at least 10 years can begin accessing Social Security at 62, or can wait for a larger monthly payout by starting at the age of 70.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are important interpersonal and communication abilities which cannot be strictly measured and can be difficult to learn, but are vital to fully succeed in a workplace. Communication, management, negotiation, and collaboration are all valuable soft skills.

Sourcing (Hiring)

Sourcing, as a component of talent acquisition, is the process of seeking out qualified job candidates and encouraging them to apply for current or future positions. Sourcing is extremely active, and can require identification of passive candidates, those who are not currently looking for employment.


A sponsor is a business or corporation which pays for some or all of a product, service, or event for the purpose of increasing branding and promotion through association with the beneficial or desirable cause.

Staffing Agency

A staffing agency is a business which matches candidate resumes with available job positions, offering temporary (temp) workers, "temp to hire" with the possibility of making a position permanent, and direct hire, in which the employee will be a full member of the organization.

STAR (Method)

The STAR Method is a framework for keeping interview answers clear and concise. STAR stands for each of the four steps for a great answer: Situation (what was happening), Task (your goal or responsibility), Action (steps taken to achieve goal), Result (the outcome). Focusing on these four steps helps the interviewer understand the full picture, and leads to more valuable candidate answers.


A startup company is a newly-developed business, usually headed by a single entrepreneur or small team of entrepreneurs, created with the goal of rapid expansion by capturing an underserved portion of the consumer market. Startup companies often run without standard safety nets for employees such as health insurance, and can often require minimal wages during initial operation so all available capital goes into the business. Startups are high-risk, but can also grow explosively to dominate the market.

Stock Options

Stock options are a benefit offered by an employer to an employee, allowing them to buy stock in the company at either a fixed or a discounted price.


A strike is an employee-led slowing or complete stoppage of work as a form of protest against working conditions, pay, or expectations of the employer. Unions may also choose to strike on behalf of another union in order to increase the effectiveness of the work stoppage.


A subsidiary is a company which is at least 50% owned by another company while remaining its own distinct legal entity.


Succession planning is the process of identifying key positions within a company, outlining the competencies and qualifications required for success in that position, and determining which employees could potentially fill the role should it become vacant in the future. Succession planning makes addressing staff changes much easier to handle, as there is a clear line for who will be promoted to fill the empty positions, rather than needing to identify candidates in the moment.

SWOT (Analysis)

SWOT (which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a framework to analyze a business' strengths and weaknesses in relation to the industry as a whole, identifying areas for improvement and confronting assumptions. SWOT analysis is best performed by a diverse group with honest insight into each department, and should focus on external factors as well as internal ones.

Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition is most easily understood as a synonym of "Recruiting," the process of identifying high-potential individuals and coordinating them with current and upcoming employment vacancies in a company. While recruiting fills currently-open positions, talent acquisition is understood to be broader and more future-oriented, pre-emptively implementing strategies to identify and attract candidates.

Teams (Communication Platform)

Microsoft Teams is a communication platform which is included in the Microsoft Office Suite. Teams hosts the ability for voice calls, but is often used for its instant-messaging-style communication threads in which individuals or groups can quickly discuss topics and upload images.

Technical Interview

A technical interview is typically conducted in the fields of engineering and science, and involves asking the candidate complex technical questions within hypothetical scenarios in order to gauge their real-world knowledge and understand how they think and approach problems in the moment.

Technical Skills

Technical skills (also known as hard skills) are specific, demonstrable skills which are necessary to fully perform in a position. Hard Skills can be both learned and taught, and include knowledge of specific computer programs, budgeting, Search Engine Optimization, and more.

Temp (Worker)

Temp or temporary workers are employees hired for a short-term, designated amount of time, or until a project is completed. Temp workers often work with staffing agencies to help find relevant opportunities.


Tenure is the total uninterrupted length of time an employee has been employed with a company. In education, tenure refers to completing an initial period of time as an employee, often one to three years, and receiving additional job benefits and protections as a result.


Termination refers to the conclusion of a worker's employment at a company. Termination can be voluntary if the employee chooses to leave, or forced in circumstances of layoffs or an employee firing.

Thank You Note

Thank you notes are a component of the interview process sent to the interviewer by the candidate as an acknowledgement of their time spent on the interview. While not mandatory, thank you notes are intended to be extremely short and to the point, and can easily disqualify an otherwise promising candidate if not observed. In panel interviews, sending one letter to the head of the team, or addressed to the entire team, is perfectly acceptable.

Tip (Compensation)

A tip is an additional, non-mandatory payment which is given to an employee directly by the customer, often as a reward for exemplary service. Tips are most common in the food and customer service industries; many positions are allowed to offer wages below minimum wage with the expectations that customer tips will cover the difference in pay.


A business transfer involves moving assets or funds from one location, group, or owner to another. Transferring can also refer to moving an employee from one branch or location of a business to another.

Transferrable Skills

Transferrable skills are talents and abilities which can be applied to a new position or industry. Transferrable skills can translate between jobs in the same industry, such as experience with financial regulations being used in two accounting positions, or between new industries, such as taking successful managerial practices from hospitality and applying them to food service.


Travel is the process of leaving a designated place or area of work and moving to a different location for the purposes of business. Travel can occur in short bursts, such as requiring Human Resources staff to attend an overnight conference in another state, or be ongoing, such as a client-facing sales position for a national company.

Turnover Rate

Turnover rate is the percentage of employees leaving a company over a period of time; high turnover denotes many employees leaving, implying fundamental issues with the position or company. Turnover rate is determined by dividing the number of leaving employees by the total number of employees on payroll, then multiplying the result by 100.


A corporate umbrella is a term for an overarching company or brand (also known as a parent company) which owns and oversees a controlling interest in one or more smaller companies.


An underemployed worker is one who has a position of employment which does not utilize their full knowledge or skillset.

Undue Hardship

Undue hardship, when considering if an employee accommodation is reasonable, refers to an action or process which would create significant cost or difficulty for the employer and is not a fair expectation from the employee.


An unemployed worker is one who does not currently have a consistent source of income but is available to work and is actively taking steps to find a job opportunity.

Unemployment (Benefits)

Unemployment benefits or insurance is a form of payment given to individuals who are unemployed through no fault or choice of their own, typically due to layoffs. Unemployment insurance is determined at the state level, and varies greatly in the amount of compensation and requirements to quality.


An employment union is a collective of employees who join together to have greater bargaining power in relation to schedules, wages, benefits, etc. Unions whose demands are not met by management may authorize a strike, or work stoppage, to disrupt profits until demands are met, and may join in the strikes of other unions in order to show solidarity.


Upselling is a tactic in sales in which a customer is led to a higher-end (and more expensive) version of the product they originally came for, often by highlighting the value of the new product and repeating how it will solve whatever issue the customer is facing.

User (Consumer)

A user is the individual who consumes a good or a service provided by a company, regardless of if they are the one who originally made the purchase. "User" is often associated with the tech industry, and denotes a product which is expected to be accessed repeatedly rather than consumed once.


A vacancy in a company refers to a position which is necessary to a company's operations but does not currently have an employee in the role.


A vacation is a specified period of time, scheduled in advance, during which an employee is authorized to be away from work without the expectation of a medical or otherwise extenuating circumstance, often for the purpose of relaxation or rest. Some companies may choose to offer paid vacation time, but there is no requirement to do so in the United States

Venture Capitalist

A venture capitalist is an individual or group of individuals who supply young and growing companies with an infusion of capital in exchange for a significant stake in the company's equity, stocks, and potentially a say in its business operations. While failure rates are high, venture capitalists who back successful companies early on have the opportunity to make their investment back a hundredfold.

Vertical Integration

Vertical integration is the process of a company purchasing some or all of the different stages of production of a good or service (including raw materials and distribution) in order to have greater control over the manufacturing process. Vertical integration is extremely expensive and difficult due to requiring oversight in multiple industries, but can drastically reduce overall production time and cost if all different components are properly managed and integrated.


Being vested of having a vested interest refers to having an undeniable right to a current or future benefit or asset, often after fulfilling an obligation or remaining for a specified duration of time. Vesting often occurs after a period of employment, increasing contribution to an employee retirement plan after the employee proves themselves to be a worthwhile addition to the company by remaining in good standing for anywhere from 1 to 7 years.

Veteran Status (Protected Class)

A veteran is a protected class in the United States, legally defined as an individual who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard) and was discharged under any conditions other than dishonorable. A candidate's veteran status cannot be considered in any aspect of the employment process, including hiring and termination.

Vision (Insurance)

Vision insurance is one of the three most common employment benefits and provides compensation assistance and discounts on the purchase of eye exams, contact lenses, eyeglasses, and even potentially LASIK corrective surgery. Vision insurance is most easily obtained through an employer, and in comparison to Medical and Dental insurance, is often the least expensive.


A wage is a previously-determined payment from an employer to an employee in exchange for work which has been completed during a specified time. Wage can refer only to a standard hourly or weekly rate, but can also include tips, bonuses, and other compensatory payouts.

Wall Street

Wall Street is an overarching term for the New York Stock Exchange, which is located on Wall Street in New York City, NY. Wall Street can be used to refer to the stock exchange as a whole, the economists who work there, or generally to the rich and well-connected depending on context.

Wellness Program

A wellness program is an initiative by employers to supply techniques and supplies to increase the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of employees. Wellness programs can include meditation, yoga, and healthy snacks, and are generally created with the aim of inexpensive investment in employees in order to prevent any escalating health problems from delaying profits in the future.

Work From Home

Work From Home refers to a position of employment in which all or almost all job duties can be conducted from a place of the employee's choosing, provided they have the necessary equipment and internet connection to fulfill their obligations. While there may be an expectation of occasional travel to an office in Work From Home positions, the position would instead be considered Hybrid if travel is expected on a weekly basis.

Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance refers to the ability for employees to consistently and fully disengage from their jobs in order to relax and prevent burnout. Increasingly in salaried and Work From Home positions, there is an expectation to be "always available," resulting in an inability to fully recover and disrupting the balance between work and home life. Setting a clear schedule, not responding to off-hours messaging, and prioritizing one's own mental health can help to reset work/life balance.

Worker's Comp(ensation)

Worker's Compensation (sometimes called Workman's Comp) is an insurance which pays employees who incur an injury or illness as a result of their job duties, specifically covering lost wages due to an inability to work, as well as any medical costs required to alleviate the condition. Worker's Compensation also pays benefits to the families of workers who lose their lives on the job.

Zoom (Communication Platform)

Zoom is an online video conferencing platform which has become one of the standard mediums of digital communication. When interviewing for a position online, Zoom is the most common outlet; so long as the company has a paid account, it is not required for the user to be paid in order to fully access the program's features. However, Zoom can save background filters, video effects, and even screen names between sessions, so it is important to make sure that a professional profile is being presented prior to any meetings.

91 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

How to Navigate Panel Interviews: Ten Tips for Success

By Patricia Sellers, HR Blogger Panel interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can confidently navigate through them and leave a lasting impressio


bottom of page