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5 Key HR Phrases You Should Know

Category: Business English Skills, Language Training | 2018-03-15

As with any job, there is a certain lingo or jargon you need to know in order to be successful. A position in HR, or Human Resources, is no different. There are some key HR phrases you should know to understand what goes on inside a company. From the hiring and firing, to payroll, to recruiting and employee complaints. The HR department has a lot on their plate. 

Here you can find five key HR phrases that you may hear as an employee, or you might want to add to your repertoire if you work in Human Resources.

5 Key HR Phrases You Should Know

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A seat at the table

This phrase is a big one when it comes to company terms, meaning that you will probably hear it in many different departments. However, it’s very common within HR.

It means more than simply that someone should be present at a meeting. This implies that whoever has “a seat at the table”, also has a voice in the decision making process. Having “a seat at the table” generally refers to executive decision-making and executive meetings, so that everyone at the company can be represented.


Have you ever listed your skills when applying for a job? Maybe you know a programming language or are particularly good with Photoshop. These skills you have that are critical to a job are known as your “competencies.” The term “competencies” can refer to what is needed to do a job, or even ‘soft skills’ such as problem solving.

The next time you apply for a job, make sure that you have the right competencies in order to get the job done!

Company culture

Every company is different. Each one has a different feeling, attitude, and goals. All of these contribute to the “company culture.”

All of those team building exercises and company events you go to and mission statements from HR contribute to the company culture. Why not try to contribute to your company culture and head to that barbecue they’re hosting for the employees?

key HR phrases


Downsizing, Restructuring, or Reorganizing

These three terms refer to the same, dreaded event. If you hear the words downsizing, restructuring, or reorganizing being thrown around, it is more than likely that some people will be fired (or “laid off” or “let go”).

While it is possible that when a company is restructuring, they’re moving people around in the company to different positions, most of the time this is a cue to freshen up your CV.


Whenever you start a new job, you have to go through an “onboarding” process. Onboarding means that you have to fill out the new employee paperwork so that they can get you registered in their system. You will also likely be shown the ropes by a company veteran, to get you up and running right away.

Some companies may have a more extensive onboarding process that includes training, company history, and other need-to-know information about working there. However, the main goal of onboarding is to get the new employee settled and working effectively.






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Putting it all Together

As our professional lives become more and more international, you can expect to hear these key HR phrases around the office. Become familiar with them and practice them so you can feel confident in your ability when you hear them. Do you work in HR? Which phrases do you use in your day-to-day life? Give us a shout in the comments below and let us know!

If you want to learn more great HR phrases, sign up for our monthly newsletter and receive a 7-day free trial of our online English course. Also get more tips, articles and exclusive deals. Thanks for reading!



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