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Corporate Jargon Gen Z Should Know

letters of the alphabet for corporate jargon dictionary

There’s enough to worry about when entering the workforce: What are my responsibilities? Am I capable enough to do this job? Will my manager like me? Corporate jargon shouldn’t add to your stress. From terms like “bandwidth” to acronyms like EDM (surprisingly, it’s not just a music genre!), here’s your go-to guide for navigating modern corporate jargon.

A

Add some color

Add additional details or context.

Can you add some color to the slides so everyone’s caught up to speed?

Alignment

If teams in a company are in alignment, it means they’re collaborating and working well together toward the same goals.

I think we need to get everyone in alignment on this before we take on any next steps.

At capacity

Too busy; already has a full plate of work.

Sorry, I’m at capacity and can’t take that on.

At the helm 

The person leading a team or project.

Melissa’s at the helm of the Boston project.

B

Bandwidth

Ability to take on more work. If someone has the bandwidth, they can take more on; if they don’t, they’re too busy.

Do you have the bandwidth to write another article this week?

BAU

Business as usual; normal, standard.

No new projects this week, just BAU.

Bias for action

Choosing to take action even with a certain level of uncertainty or risk.

That startup team has a bias for action — they really get things done quickly.

Big picture

The main or important part of something.

Instead of paying attention to the details, let’s think big picture.

Buy-in

Someone’s approval or agreement.

We need the CEO’s buy-in before we can move forward.

C

Churn

Turnover; the amount (could be sales accounts, clients, money, etc.) a business has lost.

We had three customers churn this year, all because they had budget cuts on their end. 

Circle back

Return to later.

Let’s circle back to this next week.

Core competencies

What someone does best. Often used when discussing what to look for in a potential employee. 

For the marketing role, I think the candidate needs to have branding, social media, and PR core competencies. 

CPA

Cost per acquisition; the monetary cost to bring a new visitor, user, customer, etc. to your business.

After running the Facebook ads, our CPA went down to $2.

D

Deck

A presentation. Could be on Powerpoint, Google Slides, or Keynote.

I’ll need that deck finished by our 2 p.m. meeting.

Deliverables

Your work; what needs to be turned into your manager, team, etc.

Please send those deliverables over to me by EOD.

DNB

Do not bother/book. Often used on calendars to block out time.

She has a DNB from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, so make sure the team meeting’s in the morning.

Don’t boil the ocean

Don’t make this task impossible.

Let’s keep it simple — we don’t need to boil the ocean.

Drink the koolaid

Believing in a bad or dangerous idea. (Hint: You don’t want to drink the koolaid.)

Let’s not drink the koolaid on that strategy; let’s test what we know instead.

Ducks in a row

To get organized.

I can’t meet with you until I get my ducks in a row.

E

EDM

Electronic direct mail marketing; a marketing method that uses emails to establish relationships with potential customers.

I think we need an EDM campaign to boost numbers before the end of the quarter.

EOD

End of day; typically means the end of the work day.

I need that email drafted by EOD.

F

Fire drill

Urgent or an emergency. Usually not an actual life-or-death emergency unless you work in the ER (not PR). 

My manager gave me a fire drill right as I was going to log off. So much for that relaxing evening.

Flag

To call something out. 

Just wanted to flag this for you all because it might be relevant to the Stella project.

FTE

Full-time employee. Usually, someone who works 35-40 or more hours a week.

All FTEs will get health insurance, four weeks’ vacation, and commuter benefits.

G

Good catch

A thank you in response to someone flagging an error, mistake, or something you might have overlooked.

Good catch; good thing I didn’t send that email with the typo just yet.

Green

Someone very new or fresh without much experience.

Looking at her resume, I can tell she’s very green — she has no work experience.

H

Hard stop

A specific time to end the meeting because an attendee has a conflict.

I have a hard stop at 4:30 p.m., so let’s make sure to get through the deck before then.

Heads down

Focused; in do not disturb mode.

I’m heads down for the next hour because I really need to get this done.

HR

Human resources; employees who usually help recruit, hire, and manage compensation and benefits.

I think I have two vacation days left this year, but I’ll need to check with HR.

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I

Ideate

Brainstorm, think, and come up with ideas.

Let me put my creative thinking cap on and ideate on this. 

In the weeds

Focused on the details and the day-to-day work; unable to think strategically.

I’m too in the weeds on this. Let’s zoom out and try to think big picture.

J

Jump ship

When someone leaves a company.

The company must be in trouble; three people have jumped ship in the last two weeks.

K

KPI

Key performance indicator; what metric you’re measuring to show that you’re either hitting or missing your goal.

How close are we to hitting the KPIs for this project?

L

Learnings

Anything you learned from what you were working on that might impact what you do in the future. See “takeaways.”

I’ll share my learnings from the project in the team meeting today.

Let it bake 

Letting something sit for a while before you take any action on it.

My decision-making skills aren’t so hot right now. Let’s let it bake and talk tomorrow.

Lever

An initiative or activity you can do to get a specific result. 

Let’s find a lever we can pull when we need more visitors, fast.

Low-hanging fruit

Something that’s easy to get.

We know reaching out to top reviewers is low-hanging fruit, so let’s do that at the end of the quarter if we’re short on sign-ups.

M

Move the needle

Make noticeable progress toward your result.

We need to move the needle on this before month’s end.

N

Next steps

What action you’ll take next.

Let’s review next steps so everyone knows what to prioritize after this meeting.

O

Offsite

Gathering of employees away from the office, usually for team bonding or realignment.

I met my boss for the first time in person at this year’s offsite.

OKR

Objectives and key results. Your work goals and the results you’ll track to know if you reached those goals.

Let’s review your OKRs and see how much progress you’ve made this quarter.

OOO

Out of office. Vacationing, taking a personal day, etc, but not working.

I can’t make that meeting, I’m OOO that week.

Out of Pocket

Used when someone’s away from their keyboard during the workday.

I’ll be out of pocket until 5 p.m., but I’ll respond when I’m back.

P

Piggybacking

Adding onto an already established idea.

Piggybacking on that, I think adding some employee images in the branding would make it more authentic.

Ping

To message someone, usually via a messaging platform versus email.

I’ll ping you when the deck is ready.

Play to strengths

Use your top abilities.

Let’s play to our strengths and go full force on social media for this next project.

PR

Public relations. Using press, media coverage, and social media to create a positive brand impression.

Did you see our feature in The New York Times? Shout-out to the PR team.

PTE

Part-time employee. Someone who works less than 35-40 hours a week.

They’re a PTE, but I think they might get a full-time offer once they’re done with school.

PTO

Paid time off. This is the amount of vacation time you have.

I have to take more PTO soon or my work-life balance is going to suffer.

Q

Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

Represent the quarters of the year; a three-month period used to track goals and finances. 

One of my goals for Q2 is to hire a new investment banker so we can have more support in Q3.

R

Ramp up time

Describes the time it takes for an employee, usually in sales, to onboard after joining the team.

It usually takes six months for our new sales reps to ramp up.

ROI

Return on investment. How much a company got back from their investment versus the cost of investment.

I don’t know if we should move forward with this deal — I don’t see the ROI here.

RTO

Return to office; returning to in-person work.

If the company rolls out a five-day RTO plan, I’m quitting.

Run it up the flagpole

Suggesting a new idea to see what others think.

Good idea; let’s run it up the flagpole at the next team meeting.

S

Scrum

A type of project management that emphasizes teamwork and accountability.

Let’s scrum it out to get to the bottom of this problem quickly.

SEO

Search engine optimization; A tactic used to gain online visibility when people search for certain key terms or phrases.

It’s crucial we build out the SEO team to get some traction to the site.

Sidebar

Talking privately about an issue rather than in a group.

Can we take this offline and sidebar about this?

Stakeholder

An important person who has an interest in or might be affected by your work.

Let’s hold a meeting with relevant stakeholders before we make any key decisions.

Standup

A regular meeting, usually one that goes over status updates and what individual team members are working on.

Where were you at standup today? I need a status update.

Synergy

Teamwork; collaboration. 

The synergy we have between product and engineering right now is unbeatable.

T

Table stakes

The minimum requirements for your product or service to be a competitor in the market. 

The messaging feature is table stakes before we meet with investors.

Take it offline / Offline

Often said during a meeting when someone will follow up to discuss the matter privately.

Hm, I need to think about this some more. Let’s offline about this later.

Takeaways

What you learned from the experience. See “learnings.”

Can everyone put their takeaways in the deck so we can reflect and decide on next steps?

Thought leader

An expert or authority on a specific subject or field.

She’s a thought leader in the recruitment space; she’ll be able to answer your questions on tech interviews right now.

TL;DR

Too long; don’t read; a summary, highlights, and key takeaways.

TL;DR: We shouldn’t rely on email to drive registrations, but we should use it for seasonal campaigns.

Touchbase

A quick meeting; time to connect with someone.

Are you free right now for a quick touchbase?

U

UI/UX

User interface/User experience. Concerns how a user processes, understands, and experiences a webpage or site.

The UX on this isn’t great — I don’t even know how to find the right course from the home page.

W

Watercooler

Informal, non-work-related discussions.

Tess’ watercooler talk is hilarious. I love her dad jokes.

Wheelhouse

Your strengths and areas of expertise.

This is totally in your wheelhouse, so you should be at the helm of this project.

Whiteboarding

Brainstorming, using a whiteboard (or a virtual one).

Let’s hold a whiteboarding session to gather ideas.

Z

Zoom out

Opening your mind to the bigger problem at hand rather than focusing on the details.

I think we’re too close to the details right now, let’s zoom out and think big picture.

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