Summary List Placement
If it feels like job descriptions and hiring emails are loaded with an alphabet soup of words you’ve never heard before, you’re not alone.
“Within talent acquisition, there are so many terms and acronyms we use on a daily basis that it is sometimes forgotten that it is not everyday common language,” Jona Jennings, a senior technical sourcer at Terminal.io who’s worked in recruiting for Microsoft, Wayfair, and Tesla, told Insider. “Lately, I have seen a couple of these make it to job descriptions and can only imagine how job seekers feel.”
To help wade through the language of recruiting, we picked the brains of several experts to help you decode the application, interview, and hiring process.
KSA: knowledge, skills, and abilities
Jennings said she’s seen KSA used in place of the “requirements” or “what you bring” section of job descriptions.
“Although one can deduce it has something to do with needs, job seekers still probably wonder what it stands for,” she added.
DOE: depending on experience
DOE is usually found on the bottom of a job description, Jennings said, and stands for “depending on experience” in regards to the salary range offered for a given position.
C2H or CTH: contract to hire
“Contract to hire” and “contract to perm” (permanent) are both phrases that mean a candidate will be hired as a temporary contractor.
FTE: full-time employee
A C2H or CTH has the potential to become an FTE, or full-time employee.
If a recruiter you’re in contact with asks for the specific “req” for a job, they’re referring to the “requisition” — or job posting number of the position, Latesha Byrd, CEO and founder of Byrd Career Consulting, a talent development consulting agency that’s helped clients land offers at Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Netflix, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young, told Insider.
If you’re asking for information or updates about a specific job, be sure to include the “req” in all email communications, she added.
Purple squirrel or unicorn
Jennings said a “purple squirrel” or “unicorn” is “someone who is very hard to find and usually nonexistent.” Recruiters who come across someone who has the perfect education, experience, and range of qualifications often use this term to describe them.
ATS: applicant tracking system
An applicant tracking system (also known as a recruiter database) is what companies use to keep track of candidates.
“When an applicant applies to a position, their resume is scanned by an ATS and examined for specific keywords to assess if they’re a good candidate for the position,” Byrd said. “These systems are designed to help the company narrow down and highlight the best candidates for specific roles, saving the recruiter time.”
“Poach” or “poaching” comes from the traditional definition that means to take someone else’s prized game or fish. In the business world, it’s used when a recruiter is actively trying to hire someone away from another company.
Daria Ilić, lead technical recruiter of The Zebra, an insurance comparison marketplace, said that well-known or highly admired candidates may be seen as desirable by employers to poach.
A behavioral interview, Byrd said, is a type of interview where the recruiter will ask the candidate specific questions to assess how they would respond to certain situations in the workplace. They often start with, “Tell me about a time when…”
Behavioral interviews are common across industries. Byrd recommended preparing “hero stories” where you’ve “solved a problem, helped a customer, helped the team, stepped up to the plate” to nail them.
“Companies are looking for someone that shows they’re solutions-oriented and have leadership skills,” she said.
Case study interview
Case study interviews are when candidates are given specific business scenarios that they have to review and present their recommendations or solutions to.
These are more common in technical roles. To prepare, Byrd recommended asking the recruiter for insights about what the employer might be looking for.
Companies seeking to reduce bias in the hiring process often introduce “blind screenings,” which may remove things like a candidate’s name or gender from the screening process, Byrd said.
Exploding offers are when recruiters extend an offer to potential candidates and ask that they respond within a certain amount of time. They’re very common, according to Niya Dragova, cofounder of Candor, a startup that’s helped hundreds of candidates negotiate for higher offers, including talent at Facebook, Stripe, Amazon, Google, and Airbnb.
Employers put forward exploding offers when they feel someone is a competitive candidate, she said.
“You might get other offers from other places, and they spent so much time and money vetting you and finding you, they really want you to join,” Dragova said. Candidates who receive an exploding offer have a lot of negotiation leverage.
More often than not, recruiters will be fine with extending the time frame, so feel free to ask for more time, she added.
Base pay and overall compensation
Ilić said one conversation she has at least two to three times a week is explaining the difference between base pay and overall compensation.
Base compensation refers to your salary, she explained, whereas overall compensation covers your base salary as well as additional bonuses, benefits, or stock and equity — all of which are negotiable, she added.
“There are different types of equity, but the one that most people will receive in their offer letter is the ‘common stock,’ which is an ownership share or interest in the company,” Ilić said. This could also be referred to as “common equity.”
If the company is public, she added, equity means that employees are able to purchase stocks at a discounted price. If the company is private, then the equity will be a percentage of ownership of the company when or if the company decides to go public.
Vesting period refers to the amount of time an employee must work for a company before they become an owner of the stock or equity in their compensation package.
For example, Ilić’s company, The Zebra, has a four-year period that begins “vesting” on employees’ first day of employment. Employees get 25% of the equity or stock at their one-year anniversary. After that, on a monthly basis they get a percentage of the equity until they’re fully vested.
“Vesting periods encourage employees to stay longer at the company and help the company perform well,” she said.
Incentive pay is more common these days due to the pandemic, Byrd explained.
“Employees get additional pay for doing things beyond the scope of their normal work responsibilities, or working more hours,” she said.
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