While there may be a lot of prestige with some job titles, a title may not always project the position or power that a person believes they hold. The issue with job titles is that, apart from in very rare occasions, they are created by the hiring company. The company will have a reason for using a title – to build brand perception, improve credibility with potential clients, flatten an organisation structure – and it may not exactly fit with the image of what you, the employee are attempting to achieve in your career.
There are a number of other reasons employers choose the titles they do:
– Legal implications regarding previous title holders
– Shift in company policy
– Decision of new department head
– Payroll restructure
The job title may not have been the reason you took the job. The work you actually perform is what matters to you. But problems can arise when you’re someone working with a job title that’s a poor fit. If you examine vacancy listings or the LinkedIn profiles of others in your sector you might realise that what you perceive a title to mean, may not be the perception that others hold.
Interpreting your job title
When you’re working towards a career goal, the job titles you use on your CV may even create confusion. After all, a Senior Manager at a small company with one or two outlets will hold a very different remit from a Senior Manager at a multinational corporation. The result? The ambiguity of the title lessens the impact it should have. Employers would have to guess from the limited description provided what that title really means.
Yet another place that titles confuse employers is in the financial services sector where titles like Analyst, Associate and Vice President tend to have different meanings in different industries.
A study shows that there are about 12,000 Vice Presidents at one of the main investment banking firms. Their policy is to promote around 150 people annually to Managing Director. Where in the hierarchy would you feel this role exists, above or below VPs? See that’s the confusion we mean.
So where does your job title fit in your industry?
What to do to alleviate misleading titles
There are a few ways to give you the best chance of making the impact you want with employers. One of which is letting your achievements and experience speak for themselves. Some do this with well-defined role descriptions. Descriptions which include case studies, results quantified and lessons learnt. Another, avoid using the given job titles as you brand yourself with your career goal in mind. For example, you could state the function of your role (Marketing, Finance, Engineering etc) together with the word ‘Specialist’. It’s less likely that a title of Marketing Specialist or Engineering Specialist will be misunderstood. Instead it invites recruiters to read and gives you the opportunity to expand on what you do, what you know and what you might be capable of achieving in the future.
Even if the recruiter might have an ideal candidate in mind when they see some job titles, by using a specialism you create the opportunity to sidestep these perceptions and present your own identity.