Helping you into work

Jargon buster

Below are some words and phrases that you may see when you are searching and applying for jobs. Understanding what the jargon means will help you with finding a job that you want, completing the application form and making sure your CV is right for the job:

Full-time: this is normally used to describe a job that works 5 days each week, typically 9am through to 5pm Monday to Friday, but may include weekends.

Part-time: a job that works less hours than a full-time job, typically 15 hours each week, perhaps 3 hours per day Monday to Friday. Hours and days worked can vary greatly job to job, but will always be less than full-time.

P.A / Per annum: when used against a salary this means the money you could earn each year. i.e. £12,500pa or per annum.

Pro rata: In proportion to. Employers use this when suggesting the salary a job offers when it is not full-time. You may find this in an advert comparing the full-time salary, where the job is part-time, i.e. £12,000 pa, pro rata 20 hours, means the full time job is £12,000 pa but his job is only for 20 hours each week - therefore about £6,000pa.

OTE: stands for Our Top Earner. This only suggests what could be earned in this job and is not typically a guaranteed salary. Normally used when describing a job that earns a commission, i.e. sales for instance.

Job description: a list of duties and responsibilities relevant to that particular job. Basically, what is required of the job holder and the type of things they will be expected to do. Your performance when doing the job will be judged against the job description.

Person specification: a list of the skills, knowledge and experience expected and identified as either Essential (must have them) or Desirable (good if you do have them).

CV / Curriculum vitae: a document outlining your main skills, experience, educational and work history. It must include your contact information and is normally the first information the employer sees about you. Update your CV for each new job you apply for so that you clearly show how you meet essential criteria.

Competence: the quality of being able to do or accomplish something. For example, many people can drive a car, but someone who is said to be competent would be a good driver and typically have more experience.

Criteria: the standards or measures that will be used to assess your application and at interview. Typically, your interview answers will be scored against a pre-set criteria to help the employer judge 1 candidate against the other fairly - particularly if interviews happen over several days.

Essential: when used in a job description or personal specification, to do the job well you MUST have this skill, knowledge or experience. These can be from your voluntary work, home experience, college, school or other non-work place. i.e. organising a family party or event may show a lot of work-related skills.

Desirable: when used in a job description or personal specification., the employer would LIKE you to possess these, but don't be put off if you do not meet all the desirable criteria. If 2 candidates have exactly the same Essentials and are the same at interview, this could be used to decide who gets the job.

Shortlisting: the first thing the employer does with the job applications. They will sort through the applications and only shortlist for interview the ones that are closest to the personal specification. They may also shortlist those interviewed for a second interview. Those not shortlisted are typically rejected from the recruitment process.

Assessment (centre): this would indicate that the interview will include a practical test, exercise or assessment that may be required prior to or during interview. i.e. preparing a letter or doing some other practical test.

Presentation: a brief (10 minute possibly) formal talk typically to be given by you on a particular work-related subject as part of the interview process. The employer may send you a title and ask you to prepare a presentation on that subject to be delivered to a panel as part of the interview.

Panel: this would mean that at the interview you will probably meet / be asked questions by a number of people rather than just meet 1 person.

Probation or Probationary period: This is a period of time set by the employer that starts when you start in the job and typically last between 3 and 12 months during which you may not get all the employee benefits, pension or holidays etc. During this period you should have regular meetings with your immediate manager / team leader to discuss how you are getting on in the new job. If your employer can show that you are unable to do the work to the required standard, they may extend your probationary period or as an extreme terminate your employment.

Permanent: if appointed, you would be required to sign a contract of employment and you would benefit from any company benefits and normally have more job security. If the company operate a pension scheme, you would typically qualify to joint this after a probationary period. If you're looking for opportunities to advance your career, a permanent position will be more suited to you.

Temping: temporary workers do not benefit from all the employment benefits and these roles are typically for a short time only. i.e. holiday or maternity cover. This type of work is a good way of gaining a wide range of work experience and for people unable to commit to a permanent job. i.e. student summer work.

Contracting: like temping, but for longer periods of time. Training is likely to be given and there are other benefits, such as the opportunity to develop new skills. Often better paid than temping.

Internship: an unpaid post that allows you to gain practical experience in a profession or organisation. This work usually lasts for 8 to 12 weeks, during students' holidays. These posts are sometimes offered to students studying a relevant subject i.e. accounts of software development or a science discipline.

Apprenticeship: (link opens in new window) an apprentice will get paid while learning a craft or trade, gaining hands-on experience and will attend college or take formal study part-time over a number of years. Often used within the building trade to train new professionals. An apprenticeship typically lasts for 3 to 6 years and provides a recognized qualification.

Work experience: this can be paid or unpaid and means any time you have spent working with an employer in a work environment. Often included as part of government-funded training schemes, as a way of developing your work, hands on and vocational skills. Shows your ability to turn up for work on time, work for an employer, take directions and do work.

Graduate schemes: some companies choose to employ a large number of graduates following graduation. These schemes are usually for a permanent paid job that often includes a structured training program for the first 18 months to three years.

Volunteering: as well as the feel-good factor you receive from giving your time to a worthy cause, the benefits of volunteering include learning new skills and gaining useful experience which will help you find your next job and launch your career. Voluntary work is a good way of improving your CV and obtaining additional skills.

Termination: either you or your employer may decide to terminate your employment, in which case the correct period of notice must be given. This period will be stated on the contact of employment and will typically be either 1 week or 1 month. Senior or management roles may require 3 or sometimes up to 12 months. Notice must be given in writing, and the employer normally retains the right to ask you to leave immediately, in which case they will pay salary in lieu of notice (i.e. without you having to work).

Redundancy: sometimes companies decide that some jobs are no longer required. In this case, the post is made redundant and the job holder may have to leave the company. An amount of redundancy money dependant on how long you have been employed will normally be paid. There are many rules and legal requirements and expert advice should be sought if your are effected.

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