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Glossary of Terms

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This glossary of terms will help you learn more about staff job classifications and compensation at Stanford.


Addendum: An addition to the university-wide job description created and maintained within the local school/unit to describe any additional responsibilities and/or requirements for the job specific to the local school/unit. An addendum describes and focuses on the job itself, not on any specific individual who might fill the job.

Annual Staff Compensation Program: The formal program designed to advance Stanford's ability to attract and retain top staff talent and provide maximum flexibility to managers in making compensation decisions that reward performance. A review of eligible staff employees' base pay is typically conducted annually. A base pay increase could be recommended and used by an employee's manager to recognize individual performance and address any market, equity or retention concerns.


Base Pay: The salary paid for a job performed.  It does not include any premium pay such as shift differentials, overtime pay, supplemental pay or any pay element other than the base rate.

Benchmark Job: A job commonly found, defined and used to make pay comparisons either within the organization or to comparable jobs outside the organization. Pay data for these jobs are readily available in published market surveys.

Bonus: A discretionary, non-base award given to attract, retain, motivate or recognize an individual or group of employees. Types of bonuses:

  • Performance – used to recognize extraordinary performance
  • Retention – used to motivate key employees to remain at the university for a period of time beyond their potential or targeted departure date
  • Sign-On – used to attract a prospective employee to fill a position at the university


Career Path: A series of defined levels within a job series where the nature of the work is traditionally similar (e.g., accounting, event planning) and the levels represent the organization's requirements for increased skill, knowledge and responsibility as the employee moves through a career.

Compensation Philosophy: A philosophy set and adopted by an organization that ensures the compensation program supports the organization’s strategy, culture and the achievement of organizational objectives.


Federal and State Wage and Hour Laws: Federal and state laws governing minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor and record-keeping requirements. Contained within these laws are the categories of exempt and non-exempt work. Exempt employees are those whose jobs are not subject to minimum wage or overtime payment provisions of the federal and state wage and hours laws. Non-exempt employees are those whose jobs are subject to the overtime pay provision of federal and state wage and hour laws.


Grade: A specific component in a salary structure that groups jobs for pay policy application. All jobs in a specific grade have the same salary range: minimum and maximum.


Hybrid Job: A job that encompasses multi-functional responsibility for a combination of different areas that are all important and necessary for the role and typically represent two or more separate jobs (e.g., Financial Analyst and Talent Development Specialist).


Incentive: A non-base award for the accomplishment of specific results over a specified time frame. Payout of the incentive award is conditional upon the employee meeting expectations communicated in writing at the beginning of a project or performance cycle.


Job: The total collection of tasks, duties and responsibilities assigned to one or more individuals whose work has the same nature and level of work.

Job Classification: The assignment of a job to a specific grade based on the market rate for Stanford’s jobs in the external labor market.

Job Code: A four-digit number that identifies each job.

Job Description: A summary of the most important features of a job, including the general nature of the work performed (core duties and responsibilities) and level (skills, education and experience).  A job description describes and focuses on the job itself and not on any specific individual who might fill the job. 

Job Description Library: Online library that includes job descriptions for non-academic and non-bargaining staff positions searchable by keywords and/or job family (e.g., Finance), and job series (e.g, Financial Analyst), and available in the Axess portal.

Job Family: A major grouping of jobs serving a common purpose (e.g., Administration, Communications, Finance).  A job family includes one or more job series. 

Job Series: A grouping of jobs having the same nature of work (e.g., Student Services) but requiring different levels of skill and responsibility (e.g., entry-level vs. senior level). Each job family includes one or more job series (e.g., the Finance family includes Accounting, Finance and Research Administration).


Market Analysis: An annual process conducted each fall by the University Human Resources Staff Compensation Team to analyze job trends and salary levels/rates paid in the market. Market data reflect the geographic regions and the types of industries from which we recruit. These may include for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, local and national organizations, and higher education institutions as well as general industry firms. Results of the market analysis process are used to make an annual recommendation for Stanford’s Staff Compensation Program.

Market Pricing: Relative to compensation, the technique of establishing pay structures almost exclusively through matching pay for a very large percentage of jobs with the rates paid in the relevant external market.

Market Rate: Rate of pay for each job based on the aggregate, representative market data from salary surveys.


N11/N99 Position: A position in an unbounded salary range (i.e., the salary range has a minimum but no established maximum pay rate). Senior staff positions are assigned to the N11 level. Officers and executive staff positions are assigned to the N99 level.


Salary Range: The range of pay rates, from minimum to maximum, established for a specific grade for the geographic region in which the work is performed. Typically used to set individual employee base salary rates, the range reflects the competitive lower and upper bounds of pay for jobs within a particular grade.

Salary Structure: The array and hierarchy of grades and the associated salary ranges for the geographic region in which the work is performed. 

Salary Survey: The gathering, summarizing and analysis of relevant market data on wages and salaries paid by other employers for benchmark jobs. Salary surveys are used to establish or price a salary structure, analyze pay-related problems, and/or adjust pay levels in response to competitive pay changes.


Total Compensation: The complete pay package for employees, including all forms of salary, bonuses, benefits and services.

Your personalized Total Compensation Statement displays your pay as well as benefits you are using.