The ultimate guide to graduate job hunting jargon

Do you know your COP from your CSR? Use our jargon buster to get to grips with terms you might come across as you hunt for graduate jobs.

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When you are searching for your first graduate job, you may come across all kinds of unfamiliar words, complicated acronyms and confusing technical phrases. We've put together a helpful glossary of jargon you might come across on your graduate job hunt.

While it is helpful to familiarise yourself with the language employers use, don't drop jargon into your interview for the sake of it. They might not be impressed. Nevertheless, understanding job jargon will help you interpret job descriptions and tailor your application to the precise requirements of the organisation.

Guide to job jargon

360 recruitment process : The recruitment process from beginning to end. You're most likely to come across this term if applying for a position in recruiting, for example a recruitment consultant role.

Academics : This refers to your academic results and qualifications, such as GCSEs, A levels and university degree.

Big picture focus : Commercial awareness. You need to be aware of wider social, economic and political issues that could potentially affect the organisation.

Competitive salary : A coy way of saying that your earning will be in line with employees working at similar organisations. In some cases it means that your salary will depend on your level of experience.

CEO (chief executive officer) : The buck stops here. The CEO has the most senior position in the company and has final say on all decisions that are made.

CFO (chief financial officer) : The person with the most seniority in the organisation's financial division.

COP (close of play) : The joys of the working day have come to an end.

CSR (corporate social responsibility) : An organisation's efforts to hold itself accountable for its social, economic and environmental impact. For example, many law firms have introduced policies in their offices to reduce use of paper in order to minimise waste, and also undertake pro bono cases to help disadvantaged citizens.

Cutting-edge : Innovation so sharp it cuts like a knife. If technology is cutting-edge it means that it is the most advanced technology that is available at this moment, while cutting-edge thinking refers to pioneering, creative ideas.

CxO : When there are too many ‘chiefs’ to address, CxO is used as a catch-all term to refer to anyone with ‘chief’ and ‘officer’ in their job title.

Dynamic : Someone who is motivated, enthusiastic and ambitious.

Drink our own champagne : Not to be mistaken for getting drunk in the office. It simply means that the product being sold to clients is so good that even the business uses it.

End-user perspective : How the client or customer feels about a product or service once they have used it.

Face time : Face-to-face contact with a client.

Forward-thinking : Someone who considers the future when coming up with ideas. This could include coming up with original, enterprising ideas or anticipating future factors that might affect a product's profitability. For example, how will AI (artificial intelligence) be used in the future to make organisations more efficient?

Get our ducks in a row : Think of a mother duck plodding along with her adorable chicks following behind her in a neat line. Graduates are the chicks in this scenario; they need to make sure that they remain organised and precisely follow company procedures.

Heavy lifting : The hardest parts of a job.

Helicopter view : Having a clear view of the overall project.

Know-how : You have gained knowledge and developed your skills in a practical way, through experience or in a professional environment.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator) : A tool that evaluates the success and efficiency of a team or employee by looking at whether they have achieved their targets.

Land and expand : Often used in the business and consulting sectors. Once you have sold a solution to a client you then describe how the solution would work in the client's specific situation.

Liaise : A fancy way of saying communicate.

Networking : Some people find this the most frightening part of searching for a graduate job: going to events in order to get to know potential employers and find out more about a particular firm, business or company. Some people have secured graduate schemes just from having drinks with an associate!

On-boarding : When new recruits are welcomed to the business. Some organisations pair the graduate with a buddy to show them around and answer any questions they might have. Others arrange trips to different areas of the UK or abroad which combine training workshops with fun team bonding activities.

OTE : This has two possible meanings

  • On target earnings: A phrase commonly found in sales jobs. Employees' salary will be topped up when they meet company targets.
  • Our top earner: The salary is not representative of the average wage. Only the top earner receives this amount.

Outside-the-box thinking : Yet another way of saying original thoughts and ideas.

Per annum/p.a. : Per year. If you have 25 days holiday p.a., this is the total number of days you can take within a year.

Pro rata : Latin for 'in proportion'. You might see this when applying for summer internships. For example, if a three-month internship advertises an annual salary of £18,000 pro rata, this means that you will be earning £1,500 each month.

Procurement : To get something. This could refer to sourcing goods or raw ingredients, or establishing relationships with new clients.

Proven track record : Prior experience and concrete examples of times you have used the skills the employer is looking for.

Pushing the envelope : Going above and beyond to achieve the organisation's targets.

Sandwich course : A degree which allows a year out for an industrial placement.

Self-starter : An independent, proactive person who is comfortable with managing their own workload without a lot of instruction.

SME : A small to medium enterprise. Companies with fewer employees than major corporations.

For more on the jargon used in specific professions, check out:

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