Helping you into work

Jargon buster

Below are some words and phrases that you may see when you are searching and applying for jobs. This is only a guide but it may help your understanding of what the jargon means and help you with finding a job that you want, complete the application form and make 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 39 or 40 hours 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.

Shift working – Shift work enables an employer to operate longer than the normal eight hours each day. The shifts may be fixed such as permanent nights or rotating shifts when your start and finish times will vary over a schedule. Shifts can involve early morning, evening or night shifts, all of which you could work, rotating each week or month. A three-shift system will typically be 6am to 2pm for the early shift, 2pm to 10pm for the last shift and 10pm to 6am for the night shift.

Zero hours – A zero hours contract is generally a contract between an employer and a worker where: the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours and the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered.

National minimum wage – The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to. It doesn't matter how small an employer is, they still have to pay the correct minimum wage.

NationalLiving Wage – This is slightly higher than the National Minimum Wage and you should get this if you are over 25. It doesn't matter how small an employer is, they still have to pay the correct minimum wage.

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. £12,000pa pro rata 20 hours means the 40 hour full-time job pays £12,000 pa but this job is for 20 hours and therefore pays £6,000 per annum.

OTE – Means "our top earner" and 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 the job holder is expected to have. Identified as either essential (must have them) or desirable (good if you have them.)

CV / Curriculum vitae – Your 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 the essential criteria

Competence – The quality of being able to do or accomplish something. i.e. many people can drive a car but someone who is said to be competent would be a good driver and typically have more experience. Incompetence does not mean that a person cannot do something, but rather that they cannot do it to the desired standard.

Criteria – The standards or measures that will be used to assess your application and during the interview. Typically, your interview answers will be scored against a pre-set criteria to help the employer judge one candidate against the others more fairly, particularly when interviews happen over several days. You will not be told which criteria are being measured but they will be based on the job description and person specification.

Essential – When used in a job description or person specification. To do the job well, you must have this skill, knowledge or experience. These can be from your previous jobs, voluntary work, home experience, college, school or other none work place. For example, organising a family party or event may show a lot of work-related skills.

Desirable – When used in a job description or person specification. The employer would like you to possess these skills, but don't be put off if you do not meet all the desirable criteria; in the unlikely event that two candidates have exactly the same essentials and score the same at interview, then the desirables 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 person specification. They may also shortlist those interviewed to take a second interview. Those not shortlisted are typically rejected from the recruitment process.

Assessment – This would indicate that the interview will include a practical test, exercise or assessment that may be required prior to or during interview. This could include preparing a letter or doing some other practical test that proves you have an essential skill as required in the person specification.

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

Panel – This would mean that at the interview you will probably meet, be asked questions by or present to a number of people at the same time rather than just meet one person.

Work-based interview – The interview will likely be based on an assessment of how well you do the actual job rather than a formal interview question and answer session. Normally used for practical, hands-on, type jobs or for people who have expressed a difficulty with the normal interview process (for example, those with special needs.)

Probation or Probationary period – This is a period of time set by the employer that begins when you start in the job and typically lasts for between 3 and 12 months, during which time 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 and be offered training. If your employer feels that you are unable to do the work to the required standard, they may choose to extend your probationary period.

Contract of employment – A formal contract between the employer and yourself where you agree to do tasks defined in the job description and the employer agrees to provide benefits (such as pay you.) The contract will specify what hours and where you will work and how much pay you will receive. You would be required to sign a contract of employment and you would receive any company benefits and normally have more job security. If the company operates a pension scheme you would typically qualify to join this after the probationary period.

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