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Job seeker's vocabulary

This glossary is designed to give a quick definition of the words you should know as a job seeker.

These are achievements you have had in your career. These key points will help you sell you to an employer.

Background check
This is used by employers to verify the accuracy of the information you provide in your resume or job application and beyond.

Career Objective/ Job Objective
This is an optional part of your resume. Job objective can sharpen your resume and should be as specific as possible, and written in a way that shows how you can benefit your employer.

Cold call
The call a job seeker makes to an employer (usually through an uninvited cover letter) who has not publicly announced any job openings.

Compensation package
The combination of salary and fringe benefits an employer provides to an employee. When evaluating job offers, a job seeker should consider the total package and not just salary.

Contract employee
An employee who works for an organization that sells his or her services to another company on a project or time basis.

Counter offer/ Counter Proposal
This is a salary negotiation technique used by job seekers when a job offer is not at an acceptable level. Almost all elements of a job offer are negotiable, including the salary, non-salary compensation, moving expenses, benefits and job specific issues.

Cover letter
A letter that should always accompany your resume when you contract a potential employer. A good cover letter opens a window to your personality and describes specific strengths and skills you offer the employer. It should entice the employer to read your resume.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Another name for Resume

Declining letter
A letter sent to an employer to turn down a job offer. The writer should keep the door open in case he or she would like to approach the employer again someday.

Employment gaps/ breaks
Are those periods of time between jobs when job seekers are unemployed, either by choice or by circumstances.

Freelancer/Consultant/Independent Contractor
A person who works for himself/ herself and bid for temporary jobs and projects with one or more employers.

Hidden job market
Only about 5-20 % of all job openings are ever publicly known, which results in about four-fifths of the job market being 'closed', meaning you can't find out about any new job openings unless you do some digging. Strategies for uncovering the hidden job market include networking and cold calling.

Types of work experiences for entry-level job seekers. Internships involve working in your expected career field, either during a semester or over the summer.

Screening interviews
They are usually conducted by a member of the human resources department. The screening interview is designed to weed out unqualified candidates.

Traditional Interviews
The kind of interview that asks broad based questions such as, 'why do you want to work for this company,' and 'tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.'

Behavioural interviews
They are based on the premise that past performance is the best indicator of future behaviour and uses questions that probe specific past behaviours, such as, 'tell me about a time when you confronted an unexpected problem' and 'tell me about an experience when you failed to achieve a goal.'

Situational interviews
Also referred to as problem solving interview. A job seeker is placed in a hypothetical situation such as dealing with an irate customer, and is judged by how well she/he reacts to complex information and arrives at solutions.

Stress interviews
They are a deliberate attempt to see how you handle yourself under pressure. The interviewer may be sarcastic or argumentative, or may keep you waiting. Expect these things to happen and when they happen don't take them personally. Calmly answer each question as it comes. Also called intimidation interviews.


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