Job Hunt Search Terms Study Guide

Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Job Hunt Search Terms Practice Exercises

One of the most important times in your life to make a good impression is when you're job hunting. As you fill out an application form, it's imperative that you answer all the questions as fully and effectively as possible. It's equally important that you turn in a strong resume. Both of these forms will be enhanced by a strong, wide vocabulary. You don't want to get halfway through filling out the application and run into a word you don't know. You also don't want to write a resume that either uses inappropriate vocabulary or uses words incorrectly.

Furthermore, when you go for a job interview, you want to be able to completely understand the questions you're asked and be able to use essential vocabulary in your responses. Not knowing the meaning of a word can confuse you just enough to get you off the track and into rambling. That can give the prospective employer the wrong impression about you, and cost you the job.

The terms that follow might be used on an application, your resume, or in an interview, depending on the kind of job you're pursuing. Become familiar with all of them and you'll be one step closer to getting hired. Who can resist a job applicant with a fabulous vocabulary?


accomplishment     refers to the achievement of something—a feat, skill, or talent

[This word indicates something you've done well or admirably, and could include everything from having a high GPA to winning the science fair to earning a promotion in your current job to having the biggest collection of baseball cards in your class. Plan to include only the pertinent ones on your resume or in your interview. Leave the rest for impressing classmates and favorite relatives.]

application     a formal request for something; a form filled out by an applicant

[This word has other definitions, but in employment terms, it means the actual form you fill out when you apply for a job. This makes you the applicant.]

assessment     an evaluation of judgment; an appraisal

[This typically refers to either assessments you have already had (job performance reviews, school tests, etc.) or to ones you'll be asked to take in the application process.]

compensation     money in payment for services rendered; something given as an equivalent for work

[In other words, this is your paycheck. Asking a prospective employer what the expected compensation is for the position sounds much better than, "Whatcha gonna pay me?"]

diversity     the state of being unlike or having variety

[Employers look for "diversity," meaning they look for employees from a wide variety of backgrounds.]

freelance     working for a variety of companies; an independent employee

[In recent years, more and more companies have hired freelancers. These employees, often referred to as independent contractors or consultants, tend to work from home or off-site because they may work for more than one company at a time.]

mentor     a teacher or professional role model

[Employers like to ask who your mentors are. Everyone has one—even if it's just someone you admire from afar. A parent, neighbor, coworker, teacher, author, or even a celebrity may be yours. Just know a few and be prepared to say how they influenced you because, almost certainly, if you name one, the employer will ask.]

negotiation     a resolution of disagreements; a mutual discussion and arrangement of terms of a transaction or agreement

[This is what you do when the terms of the job don't meet your needs, whether it's the hours, salary, or other relevant detail. Negotiation involves discussion and agreement, not arguing and stubbornness.]

networking     the practice of gathering contacts; a supportive system of sharing information and services between people who have a common interest

[This means connecting with other people who might be able to help in your job or job search by sharing contacts or other information. By sharing, you help each other.]

occupational     pertaining to a trade or career

[It's a fancy word meaning "dealing with your work." An occupational hazard, for example, is a risk you might encounter while on the job.]

overqualified     having more skill or education than a job actually requires

[When you have a master's degree from college and you're applying to your local grocery store for a nighttime stocking job, chances are you're overqualified. However, you aren't alone because many people find themselves doing just this—especially when there are no jobs in their chosen field or there are many layoffs.]

portfolio     a collection of your creative work, usually carried in a flat, portable case also known as a portfolio

[This is your resume, letters of recommendation, school transcripts, and other documents that represent your accomplishments. What's in your portfolio is supposed to create an image of you that prospective employers can look over while deciding whether to hire you or not.]

promotion     an advancement in position or rank

[In other words, the company's giving you more money/office space/power/responsibility.]

recommendation     personal reference and/or endorsement

[When it comes to job searching, you'll most likely need to have several recommendations, usually in the form of reference letters. These are typically from friends, teachers, and past employers saying how fantastic you are and how foolish it would be for the new employer not to hire you.]

recruiter     a person who enrolls or takes on people as workers

[While this term is often associated with the military, it means anyone who connects people with available jobs. In business, they may also be headhunters or executive research firms.]

resignation     the official notification of leaving a job

[When you decide it's time to move on, for whatever reason, you resign. It's usually done in writing and gives employers several weeks notice so they can find a replacement for you.]

resume     a collection or summary of your experience, education, and accomplishments within a given field

[Sometimes called the curriculum vitae (C.V.), this is a listing of the reasons why an employer should hire you, from raving recommendations to amazing accomplishments.]

telecommute     to work from home or a remote location, usually using a computer connection

[This can be wonderful—no neckties, uniforms, or businesslike clothes to wear. But it has its disadvantages, too. See if this is an option and if you're even interested in it.]

underqualified     lacking the skills or other requirements of the job

[If this is the case, you're not likely to get the job unless the employer is a fan of on-the-job training.]

workaholic     a person who becomes addicted to his or her work and puts it above family and other responsibilities.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Job Hunt Search Terms Practice Exercises

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