Glossary of Career Terms Is Badly Needed

Students require help with career planning. Students, their parents, educators, and future employers all need to speak a common language. Instead, we speak from separate silos. That’s why I’ve added a glossary of career terms to this website.

Do you doubt me?

silos create need for glossary of career terms

Here’s a tense but true anecdote about our need for a glossary of career terms.

Several years ago, I met with four strong, well-respected leaders my school district. Together, they possessed prodigious power to create positive change. It was the month of July, so we were out from under the grinding pressures of the school year, with time to brainstorm.

The five of us had come together to discuss a problem close to all of our hearts: How to ensure that every single one of our students attained the skills required for success after high school, both those who were college bound and those who said, “I need to go to work”.

I’m usually a decent communicator, but on that day, in that clutch situation, at a meeting that I myself had called, I was having trouble getting my ideas across.

For example, I tried to explain what I meant by the term mental ability.

“Could we call it a learning style?” asked one of the educators.

“No, that’s not quite it.” I offered what I thought was a better definition. There was no response.

Had I just isolated myself completely? Despite my twenty-five years of working for educational institutions, half of them in higher ed and half in K-12, I felt like I’d just checked into my own private silo. Business and industry might struggle to connect with schools and students, but the five of us ought to find connecting easy. Because we all spoke education.

Or did we?

Before I talked myself into solitary confinement, one reason for our communication difficulties became clear: The five of us sitting around the table were using the exact same words—by which we meant entirely different things!

Once that difficulty was discovered and named, I relaxed. And I learned that the problem was rampant: For example, when educators in the district used the term career goals, many parents automatically assumed they meant college. But no, they didn’t. Families often didn’t know what STEM meant, let alone STEAM. No wonder so many discussions of educational options become more frustrating than fruitful.

That’s why I decided to include a glossary of career terms on this website.

You will find a Glossary tab on the home page menu. When I present important words related to career planning in my posts, I’ll link them to the Glossary. There, you can read definitions listed in alphabetical order.

If there are additional words or phrases you’d like to have included in the Glossary, please suggest them. If you have terms and definitions of your own to contribute, please send them in. Or if you think I’ve got something wrong, just let me know. Let’s scamper between those silos. Let’s move toward career success. Together we can develop a common language that connects students, parents, educators, and employers.

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