31 Human Resources Terms Every Remote Jobseeker Should Know

Virtual Vocations human resources terms remote jobseekers

HR jargon can be confusing, but we’re here to help. Check out this list of common human resources terms you may encounter in your telecommute job search.

31 Human Resources Terms Every Remote Jobseeker Should Know

During a telecommute job hunt, you may come across unfamiliar human resources lingo. In this article, we define words and phrases that recruiters and employers may use throughout the hiring process. Bookmark this article for quick reference while you search for remote jobs!

1. Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is a government-led effort to prioritize individuals who typically experience discrimination and promote equality in American society. Organizations develop affirmative action policies to meet legal requirements, provide opportunities for historically excluded groups, and ensure fair hiring practices.

2. Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is an automated software tool that recruiters and employers use to accept resumés, filter candidates, and avoid violating discrimination laws. ATS programs can help employers streamline the hiring process and narrow their candidate pools. They can also help jobseekers get noticed among thousands of resumés.

Learn More: Top Tips for Writing Resumés That Will Pass ATS Software

3. Aptitude Test (or Assessment Test)

Some employers require that candidates take aptitude tests, also called assessment tests, to demonstrate knowledge and validate skills listed on resumés. Such tests usually pertain directly to the industry or job description. Employers may ask you to complete one or more tests during the application, pre-screening, or formal interview phases of the hiring process.

4. Background Check

Employers conduct background checks to investigate criminal records, past employment history, financial records, and other personal and professional information. They are used to validate your data and ensure that you don’t pose any unforeseen risks to the company or employees. Background checks are usually performed after a successful interview, but before making an employment offer.

5. Compensation

Compensation is the total pay you will earn in exchange for your services. It may include salary or wages, commissions, tip income, recognition, healthcare insurance, retirement savings, and stock options.

6. Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is a relatively subjective measure of how well a candidate fits in with current team members and the overall company vibe. Employers value cultural fit, in addition to industry knowledge and job skills, to help retain employees and build strong, collaborative teams.

7. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A curriculum vitae (CV) is like a resumé except it is longer and contains a more comprehensive history of your professional experience. While resumés are one or two page documents tailored for particular roles or industries, CVs aren’t tailored for specific roles. Rather, they contain a factual history of all the experiences you’ve had throughout your academic and professional career. Usually, a  resumé is all you need, but a CV may be requested for academic, medical, and scientific positions, or for international positions.

Learn More: CV vs. Resumé: Is There a Difference?

8. Employee

Merriam-Webster defines an employee as “one employed by another usually for wages or salary and in a position below the executive level.” However, the IRS adds that workers are considered employees if employers “can control what will be done and how it will be done.” In other words, it’s complicated. You’re probably an employee if you receive a regular paycheck and your employer deducts taxes, offers benefits, and dictates your schedule and work processes.

9. Employee Benefits

Benefits include, but are not limited to, healthcare, dental and vision insurance, retirement savings accounts, paid time off, access to products and services, and eligibility for bonuses, rewards, and paid-for professional services. Such benefits are in addition to salaries or wages but are lumped into an employee’s total compensation package.

10. Employment Agreement

An employment agreement is a legal document that states the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of an employee and employer during the employment period. Employers typically use such legal agreements to clearly establish the employer-employee relationship and protect both parties from future liability.

11. Equal Employment Opportunity

Federal equal employment opportunity laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace and during the hiring and termination processes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces such laws and guides recruiters, employers, jobseekers, and employees regarding their legal rights and courses of action when discrimination occurs. Discrimination includes hiring, terminating, or treating an employee differently based on age, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, race, ethnicity, disability, veteran status, and other factors.

12. Exempt and Nonexempt Status

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers pay “nonexempt” employees at least the federal minimum wage rate, as well as overtime pay, which is at least one and one-half times regular pay when employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek. However, “exempt” employees – employees in executive, administrative, or professional positions who earn a salary – are not covered under laws pertaining to minimum wage and overtime pay.

13. Full-Time

The FLSA does not define full-time employment, but full-time usually refers to 40 hours per workweek. Employers have the authority to define full-time hours, with respect to FLSA regulations, and ask employees to agree to schedule and workweek terms.

14. I-9 Form

An I-9 form confirms that you are eligible to work in the United States of America. You don’t have to be a citizen to work in the U.S., but you must have proper authorization and paperwork to get a job and receive a paycheck.

Independent contractor agreement human resources terms Virtual Vocations

15. Independent Contractor

Independent contractors are workers who perform services for employers but are not classified as employees. This definition is purposefully vague because there is no hard-and-fast rule for distinguishing independent contractors from employees. Plus, the IRS has different qualifiers based on how workers pay income taxes. Due to the ambiguity, employers can easily, and non-maliciously, misclassify workers. However, true independent contractors typically receive a 1099 instead of a W-2 from their employers, can dictate their own work hours and processes, and can hold contracts with other employers at any time.

Learn More: Remote Work Types: W-2 Employee and Independent Contractor Pros and Cons

16. Interviews

Interviews are meetings where you discuss your qualifications and work experience with recruiters and employers, and they get a feel for your personality. Employers may implement different interview processes, but they typically include at least a pre-screening followed by a formal interview. Interviews for telecommute jobs are typically conducted via phone or video conference.

17. Job Description

A job description is an overview of what a job typically entails. It may also include qualifications and requirements, such as being able to lift objects over 40 pounds, type more than 60 words per minute, or have reliable transportation for client visits. You can use job descriptions to learn keywords and phrases that recruiters look for in resumés and applications.

18. Non-Compete Agreement

A non-compete agreement is a way to prevent employees or contractors from leaving the company and taking clients or business away with them. Such agreements usually specify that an employee or contractor may not engage with or become employed by a major competitor within a specified time frame (e.g., two years from termination).

19. Non-Disclosure Agreement

A non-disclosure agreement aims to protect the employer’s proprietary information so that employees and contractors do not share company secrets, processes, or data with anyone outside the company, especially competitors. They are also used to prevent employees or contractors from using proprietary information to start businesses of their own.

20. Offer

An employment offer is usually a letter or email that invites you to work for an employer. It usually contains details on compensation, benefits packages, and work expectations. You can negotiate this offer until you reach an agreement that satisfies both you and the employer.

21. Part-Time

Just like full-time employment, the FLSA doesn’t have a formal definition for part-time work. However, part-time typically means less than 40 hours per workweek, but can also be as little as five hours per week. Always check with your potential employers for their exact definition of part-time work so that you both clearly understand and agree upon your employment terms.

Learn More: 11 Part-Time Work from Home Jobs That Pay the Bills

22. Personality Assessment

A personality assessment aims to categorize jobseekers according to interpersonal, logical, decision-making, and creative preferences. Employers use personality tests to measure cultural fit and determine which teams you’d be best suited to work with. Jobseekers may take such tests during the application, pre-screen, or interview process.

23. Pre-Screening

Pre-screening is a quick way for recruiters to reach out and see if they want to move forward with the formal interview process. Maybe your resumé looks great and matches the job description perfectly, but upon pre-screening, the recruiter senses that your communication style doesn’t align with the other team members’ vibe. Alternatively, the recruiter may be curious to learn more about your unique skill set and wish to explore how the company can leverage your professional assets.

24. Recruiter

A recruiter is someone who actively searches for candidates and helps match them with appropriate jobs and employers. Recruiters may work for employers, or they may work for a staffing agency that hires professionals on behalf of an employer.

Learn More: 2018 Recruiting Trends Remote Jobseekers Need to Know

25. Reference Check

Employers conduct reference checks to confirm your past employment history and validate your skills claims. For example, they may call a former manager to verify that you showed up to work on time and accomplished what you claimed on your resumé. You typically provide a list of professional references, along with their contact information, during or after an interview.

26. Salary

A salary is a type of monetary compensation calculated as an annual allotment and paid out monthly, bi-monthly, or every two weeks. Employers make agreed-upon deductions from each paycheck for taxes, Social Security, and Medicare expenses, as well as insurance plans and retirement funds.

27. Seasonal Hire

Seasonal employment is a type of temporary employment that occurs during set periods each year, such as during the winter holidays or over the summer months. FLSA laws apply to all nonexempt employees who enter seasonal hire. Note that working as an independent contractor during the holidays is not the same as seasonal employment under federal law.

Learn More: Tips for Applying to Seasonal Telecommute Jobs (located at the end of our Top 20 Telecommute Jobs of 2018)

28. Temporary Hire

Temporary hire is like seasonal hire except it is not characterized by the time of year, weather, or culturally significant period. Workers seeking temporary employment can find full-time and part-time options directly through employers or staffing agencies.

29. W-2 and 1099 Forms

W-2 and 1099 forms are IRS documents provided by employers to workers who earned $600 or more in the previous year. Workers use these forms to report employment income and any income taxes withheld by employers. W-2 forms are given to employees, while 1099 forms are given to independent contractors.

30. W-4 Form

A W-4 form is an IRS document that employees complete to tell employers how much income tax should be withheld from their paychecks. Independent contractors do not receive or complete a W-4 form because employers typically do not withhold income tax for non-employees.

31. Wage

A wage is the hourly rate paid by an employer to nonexempt employees. If you are a nonexempt employee earning an hourly wage, you are covered by FLSA regulations and entitled to receive the federal minimum wage and overtime pay if applicable.

Take Your New Knowledge to the Bank!

As a friendly word of caution, always read job descriptions and employment documentation thoroughly before committing to a role. Thankfully, the Virtual Vocations team vets all companies before their job postings are added to our telecommute jobs database. We happily do the hard work for you that you can quickly find remote jobs that align with your career and work-life goals. Visit the job board today and apply your new knowledge of human resources terms as you search for remote jobs.

What are other human resources terms we should include in a future listConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us about any human resources terms we missed. We’d love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: iStock.com/cnythzl


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