Job Seekers’ Glossary

A guide for job seekers that explains common hiring terms

What do employers really mean by “relevant experience”? How do you define great customer service? What’s the difference between an assistant manager and an assistant to the manager? Our glossary for job seekers will explain all the words you’ll encounter in your job search.

o A-D o E-H o I-L o M-P o Q-T o U-Z



A job application is the form companies ask you to fill out when you apply for a position. Job applications will usually ask about your contact information, work experience, education and skills. Traditional job applications are completed on paper, but more companies are moving to online applications like the ones you’ll find on Snagajob.


Sometimes when you're applying to a job on our site, you'll be asked to answer a short series of questions. This is called an assessment. It's an important way for employers to get to know you better, so be sure to answer honestly and completely. It just may help you score a new job!


Availability means the times you are able to work. Employers will often ask about availability on the application because they need to know if you can work weekends, weekdays or evenings. It’s important to tell the truth here - you don’t want to get hired for a weekend shift manager job and then tell them you can’t work on Saturday! You can also include your availability in your online job seeker profile.
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Benefits are the financial rewards and other compensation employees receive in addition to a paycheck. Benefits may include medical, dental, vision and prescription coverage; paid vacation, holidays and sick days; tuition assistance; or a 401(k) plan to help you save for retirement. Full-time jobs are more likely to include benefits, but some part-time jobs may offer them too.
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Compensation package

After a job offer is made, employers will offer you a compensation package. It will include your salary (how much money you'll be making) as well as any benefits you might receive (health insurance, vacation days, bonuses). Before accepting a job offer, be sure to consider the entire package. You might make less per hour than you were hoping, but having extra vacation time might make up for it.

Customer service

Customer service is the art of solving customers’ problems, whether in person, over the phone or on the computer. You can find customer service jobs in all industries - retail, sales, healthcare, etc. Working in customer service isn’t easy, but if you have patience, a good attitude and creativity, it can be a great career.
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Degrees & certifications

Be sure to include all degrees and certifications in your job seeker profile and on your application. This includes any high school diplomas, college degrees, computer certification classes or other certifications you may have earned.
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Employment gaps

An employment gap is any period of time where you weren't employed. Employers will want to know what happened, so be sure to explain the gaps in your cover letter or application. It's okay to be honest. Employers know it's a tough job market and will understand if you were laid off and couldn't find new work. Just make sure to let them know up front, otherwise they'll think you have something to hide.

Employment history

Employment history means your work experience. When employers ask for your employment history, they want to know where you’ve worked, how long you worked there and what you did on the job. If you don’t have much work experience, you can also include volunteer or school activities.

Equal Opportunity Employer

You’ll often see companies say “Equal Opportunity Employer” or “EEOC” in their job descriptions. This means that the company does not consider race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, disability, or age (age 40 or older) in its hiring decisions. You can learn more about equal employment opportunity on the EEOC’s website.
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Follow up

Most people don't take the opportunity to follow up with employers, but it's one of the quickest and easiest ways to stand out. After applying for a job, use the Internet or phonebook to track down the phone number of the place you want to work, and then call and ask to speak to the hiring manager. Let them know you really want the job and that you're available to meet with them at their convenience. Keep it short and sweet and make sure to leave a working telephone number so they can call you back.
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When the ball goes between the two posts and you get a point. Well, no... but just as rewarding. Goals are achievement standards you set for yourself. A hiring manager might ask you about your goals in a job interview, so set some and work on hitting them.
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The music a job seeker hears when the application and interview process is completed successfully. In other words: when an employer decides that they would like to employ you and pay you for all your hard work. You're not officially hired until all the paperwork has been signed and you've cleared whatever background checks or screening the employer considers necessary.
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I-9 form

An I-9 form (also called the Employment Eligibility Verification form) states that you are legally authorized to work in the United States. Employers require you to fill out an I-9 form when you are hired. When you fill out the I-9, you’ll also have to submit one or more documents that verify your identity and your eligibility for employment, such as a U.S. passport or permanent resident card.
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Job boards

The most magical, wonderful, awesome, helpful things in the world. Job boards are websites that employers use to advertise their available positions. We might be a little biased, but we recommend Snagajob. It's so easy to use and makes the hourly job hunt much more manageable, don't you think?

Job fair

No blue-ribbon apple pies and racing pigs here. The only winner at a job fair is you, because this is where lots of employers will get together to talk to you about the positions they have open. It's sort of like a job board (only not as awesome) where you get to talk to employers one on one.

Job offer The job offer is a formal document an employer gives you that says, "You're hired!" and outlines things like your wages and benefits. Usually you'll have to sign one of these before you start working.
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Key accomplishments

Your key accomplishments are things you're particularly proud of that you might share with an employer in an interview or a resume. This is less about the time you ate your weight in mashed potatoes and more about the time you were named Employee of the Month.
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Don’t be it. For job interviews, late means showing up even two minutes past the scheduled time. We’ve known job candidates who got turned away at the door for being five minutes late. Harsh? Maybe - but employers assume that if you’re late to the job interview, you’ll be late to work.

Letter of recommendation

Sometimes an employer will ask you for a letter of recommendation. What they're looking for is a letter from a former or current manager, coworker or teacher who will speak highly of you and your past work. This must be a work-related recommendation - a letter from your mom doesn't count.

Loss prevention

Loss prevention jobs involve taking down shoplifters with a flying tackle. No, we’re totally kidding. Retail loss prevention specialists (also called asset protection specialists) help customers, keep an eye on people acting suspiciously, monitor in-store cameras and respond to alarms. Retail loss prevention jobs do not usually involve physical confrontation with suspected shoplifters. (If you want to tackle criminals, you might want to think about a career in criminal justice.)
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Management experience

Employers will often ask you if you have any management experience. This usually means managing people, although it can also mean managing processes or projects. It can be tough to get a management job if you don’t have any experience as a manager (and being a boss is much harder than it looks!). Don’t forget to tell employers about any experience you have leading other people, even if that’s coaching a softball team or mentoring new employees.

Merit increase

A merit increase is a pay raise based on job performance. Employers that offer merit increases usually require an employee to hit a certain level in their performance evaluations in order to receive a pay increase. Other employers offer guaranteed raises based on how long you’ve been with the company.
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Networking is fun and involves your friends. It's when you use the people you know (friends, neighbors, schoolmates, or former coworkers) to help you find a job: the ol' "two heads are better than one" philosophy. Getting a referral from a friend can be the most effective way to snag the job you want.
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The objective is a short statement at the top of your resume that tells an employer why you want the job. People often have a hard time writing an objective - remember that it's optional, especially when you're applying to hourly positions. If you want one, keep it simple and specific. You can also add your objective to the "Tell Us About Yourself" section on your Snagajob profile.

Offer letter

See "job offer."


An employer might tell you you're overqualified when you have more experience than is necessary for the job. Why is this a problem? Well, if you have more experience than the job requires, it means they might have to pay you more than what they're willing to pay a less experienced person in that role. They don't want to pay you less than you're worth, because it probably means you'll leave as soon as something better comes along.
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Pay range

Some employers do not list a set wage for a given job. Instead, they outline a pay range, which tells you the minimum and maximum amount you could make in the job. The actual pay you receive if hired may depend on your skills and experience. Want to know how much you can realistically expect to earn? Try the salary calculator.


Perks are the extra bonuses you get from your job. As opposed to benefits, which include compensation like health insurance and paid vacation, perks are usually small - like free uniforms, employee discounts and half-price burritos.

Phone interview

A phone interview is just that - a job interview conducted on the phone. Employers often do phone interviews to do an initial screening of candidates and see if you’re really interested in the job. A phone interview is not a casual conversation! If you miss the phone call because you’re doing something else, or if the TV is on full blast during the interview, or if you interrupt the interviewer several times, you will not get the job. Instead, give the interviewer your full attention and pretend you’re sitting in the same room with him or her. Get more job interview tips.


A promotion is when you move from one job to another within the same company. Usually you get more money to do the new job. If you get moved to a lower-level job, that's called a demotion. Sorry, buddy.



At the end of most interviews, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. Always say yes! Asking questions shows the interviewer that you've done your homework and are interested in both the company and the position. Don't ask questions like "How much is the pay?" or "Do I get a lot of vacation?" Ask the interviewer thoughtful questions about the future of the job and the company. Be sure to come up with a list of questions before the interview.
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Your references are former and current managers, co-workers or teachers who will say positive things about you and your work habits to prospective employers. Two very important things to remember: you need to ask your references if it's okay for people to call them before giving out their phone number, and your references should only be people who will say positive things about you. Only work-related references count - no family, friends or significant others allowed.

Relevant experience

When employers ask about your “relevant experience,” they want to know about jobs you’ve had that are similar to the one you’re applying for. What if you’re applying for a retail job but you’ve only worked in restaurants? All you have to do is explain why your restaurant experience is relevant. Maybe you learned a lot about good customer service – that’s definitely relevant to retail.
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Salary requirements

Some employers may ask how much you would like to make per hour. Keep in mind that they don't want to know what your dream job would pay you. They want to know how much you think is fair for the job you're currently applying for. We'd all like to make $1,000 an hour, but putting that down on your application isn't going to land you the job. Come up with a reasonable number and let employers know that you are willing to negotiate. Not sure what to say? Our salary calculator can help.

Social networking

Similar to real-life networking (see "networking"), in social networking you use websites like Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace to find a job (when you're not playing FarmVille and looking at your friends' pictures.) Social networking allows you to broaden your social circle for a specific objective, like getting a new job.

Staffing agency

See "temp agency."
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Thank you cards

After each and every interview you have, you should send the interviewers thank you cards. It's not just polite; it's a great way to stand out in the crowd. Handwritten cards are best, but at the very least you should send an email.

Transferable skills

Transferable skills are general skills that are valuable in all kinds of jobs (as opposed to job-specific skills, like welding or using a cash register). Examples include strong communication, problem-solving, collaboration, project management and organization. It’s important to emphasize your transferable skills when you’re trying to get a job in a new field or industry.

Temp agency

A company that hires employees on behalf of another employer that needs immediate assistance in filling open jobs. Positions frequently filled by temp agencies are office and administrative jobs, accounting jobs and construction jobs. The jobs provided by temp agencies typically have a fixed length, from a few weeks up to a year.

Thank you notes

You send a thank you note or email to a hiring manager after an interview. This will help you stick out in their mind and differentiate you from the slackers who didn't send one.
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Unemployment benefits

You can apply for unemployment benefits when you have lost your job through no fault of your own (if you were fired, you’re probably not eligible for unemployment.) The amount of money you receive from unemployment depends on how much you used to earn before you lost your job. Each state has different rules about who gets unemployment and what you must do to get your check. Contact your state employment office for help.
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If you're low on experience or can't find a job, try volunteering. Pick a volunteer position in an area you are interested in. If you hope to get a job working with animals, then volunteer at your local animal shelter. If you hope to someday become a nurse, then volunteer at your local hospital. Volunteering can be a great way to lean valuable skills that will help you in your job search and allow you to give back to your community at the same time.
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A W-2 is the tax form your employer gives you each year that tells you exactly how much you earned and how much you paid in taxes. A W-2 is very important for filing your taxes, so make sure your employer sends it to you.
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What your email address should NOT be. Having an email address with an x-rated or explicit word in it comes across as unprofessional when employers review your contact information. Many employers will throw away your application if the email address provided is offensive in any way. Try something like or or even Any of those will work perfectly.
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