Glossary of Career Planning Terms

ABILITY: The power to perform a task. The task may be mental, physical, or social. Often an ability is expressed by a verb or in terms of a skill. For example, to imagine.

APTITUDE: A specific ability. An innate talent for learning certain tasks more easily and performing them more expertly than normal. For example, numerical reasoning.

APTITUDE ASSESSMENT: A group of tests designed to measure a variety of aptitudes that are relevant for job success. Together, the test results provide career direction.

CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE): Once called vocational education. A learning pathway that prepares students for work

INTEREST: What a person likes; the subject or field or aspect of life that a student is the most eager to learn about. For example, the French language.

MENTOR: Someone who uses interpersonal skills as well as knowledge to nurture the growth of another person (such as their child, grandchild, student, or employee).

MENTORING: Facilitating the growth of another person via a relationship, often helping them solve their problems by using specialized knowledge.

MOTIVATOR: What a person wants. A term combining needs, values, and goals, all of which lead to work-related drive and persistence. For example, autonomy.

READINESS: Possessing career maturity. Able to make important career decisions. Young people are sometimes asked to make such decisions before they are developmentally ready.

SPATIAL: An ability to problem-solve in three dimensions. One of the three primary mental abilities, spatial ability is associated with being visual, practical, hands on, and good at working with images.

STEAM: An acronym in which Art is added to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, in order to bring the Art and Design fields into STEM.

STEM: An acronym standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, all fields of good job opportunity. For more information, visit

STRENGTH: What a person is good at. A positive personal quality. When used at work, strengths contribute to greater happiness and more effective coping.

TALENT: An aptitude in the high range; an individual’s power for problem solving; a person whose whose skills are valued by an employer.

WEAKNESS: Something a person is not good at. Weaknesses will make it more difficult to succeed, when those skills are required by the work environment .