What’s in a name? Is the job title worth all the hype?
Full disclosure. I’m a job title lover. In fact, I’m renowned for having the knack of creating some impressive and interesting titles in my time. I’ll tell you why I love it and the advantages a job title can have but first, I want to acknowledge that we (HR professionals) may have gone a little job title mad.
Scrolling through job vacancies you’ll find ‘Fashion Evangelists’, ‘Ideation Directors’, ‘First Impressions Managers’, and more! These days you need a thesaurus just to help you apply for a job!
While job titles are a great way to showcase a quirky, relaxed or creative company culture, are we HR professionals shooting ourselves in the ‘journey device’?
Recently when talking to an experienced professional who was looking for a job, I asked why they hadn’t applied for a job showcased on www.ia-jn.com? They replied 'ohhhh, is that a marketing job? I thought it was something totally different and out of my league’. And how difficult have job searches become? – no longer does the key word ‘engineer’ work effectively when we now have ‘relationship engineers’, ‘data analysis engineers’ and ‘brainstorm engineers’? All the mechanical, civil and industrial engineers have been misled and the ‘jelly bean tasting engineer’ role remains unfilled.
A classic example is those of us who specialize in sales – heaven forbid anyone uses the dirty word ‘sales’ in a job title anymore. After all, those clients we meet will never suspect our intentions if we call ourselves Business Development Specialists or Relationship Managers.
Let’s face it – creative job titles can make it harder for great candidates to find or even understand the role.
Now that I’ve almost entirely convinced myself that quirky job titles are ludicrous, let me explain how a company and candidate can benefit.
You can offer me $5 million dollars per year and I still won’t take the position of Junior Administration Assistant (ok, mayyyybe I’ll think about it). Why? Because we have to plan the road ahead. The best careers are when we visualize where we may land next. What happens when my sweet deal as Junior Admin Assistant falls apart? It doesn’t matter that I may have been secretly running the company, try explaining that to the next employer reading your CV.
I’m going to be completely honest, I have manufactured interesting job titles to give people an ‘on paper promotion’ in lieu of the salary I cannot afford. I remember early in my career I got the ‘on paper promotion’ from Retail Liaison to Retail Communications Manager. Truthfully, the role didn’t change much – I was already responsible for all external customer service communication as well as retail store support, but it felt amazing. I felt valued.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to call you the CEO if you don’t take on the responsibilities and do the job at hand, but I have no problem changing the ‘Sales Executive’ or ‘Account Manager’ to ‘Relationship Specialist’ or ‘Client Outreach Manager’ if it sounds better and gives you other non-financial advantages.
To wrap up my polarized thoughts, I say, be creative and delightfully specific; be generous so long as it’s accurate but recognize the line between uniquely wonderful and crazy ridiculous.