Have you ever paid much thought as to the value of a job title? Just imagine for a moment if your title was changed from Salesman to Account Manager. How will your co-workers, clients and suppliers now view your position within the company? How will you see your position within the company? Have you been promoted? Did you receive a pay rise? Or has nothing changed except your job title?

It’s interesting when you study the effects of a job title, particularly if your title changes but your responsibilities do not. If this is the case then you really have to wonder if your job title is about defining your role and communicating the corporate hierarchy, or if it is an offer of prestige in lieu of a pay rise. It is not uncommon for an employer to use a change in job title as part of their compensation management system. Traditionally organisations determine a job title based on the tasks and responsibilities of the role. They fail to understand that a job title can actually attract or deter a candidate from applying for a role with them. Capturing the attention of a quality candidate through a positions title alone is a bonus, but failing to attract the best talent because you have mistitled a job can be detrimental to your business’ growth and development.

A person’s job title can affect how they feel about their job, their motivation and their identity within the organisation. Titling a role appropriately can therefore act as an important recruitment tool. In a larger company uniformity among job titles is common. It can be important to maintain consistency with reporting methods and structure and consequently retaining talent. Smaller or new organisations have the luxury of being a little more creative if their culture allows for it. A Fundraising Manager may be retitled as a Champion of Making Dreams Come True. Self-reflective titles allow employees to express themselves and can help break down barriers within the company. Yet what if you are a small company with rapid growth? Say a company of ten that in a short period of time grows to a company of 200. You may be faced with having to retitle every position within the company in order to demonstrate hierarchy and expected salaries. Will this cause some employees to feel less valuable? Probably.

Job titles can be misleading, particularly on a resume. I’ve seen ‘managers’ manage merely themselves. The incorporation of the word ‘manager’ in a jobs name indicates that the holder of that position supervises and directs staff. Often what is the case is they simply manage a function. So should we even be paying attention to one’s job title? As a professional recruiter I am interested to know and understand what a candidate has achieved in their previous positions of employment. Sure a job title can conjure up a notion of what I assume to be their tasks and responsibilities, but without probing the candidate for details, it is simply that, an assumption. The devil is in the detail. Discover the candidate’s accomplishments and you won’t be victim of making a poor recruitment decision.

There is no doubt that society places great emphasis on a job title. Think about it, when you go out socialising and you meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions they will ask you is what do you for a living? You know what I’m talking about. It can instantly change how a person views your worth. I’ve seen the same occur again and again at business functions. Someone states that they are the Administrative Officer while their co-worker states they are the Financial Manager. Suddenly all attention is paid to the Manager while the Administration Officer has become the unwanted number three in ‘three’s a crowd’. Some of you are nodding along with me.

We are defined by our jobs by others and by ourselves. It doesn’t seem healthy, but that’s how things are. When determining a position title it is essential to understand what the title reflects and what it means within the organisation. It is also important to understand the effects it has on one’s motivation, stress levels and desire to work for your company. But don’t simply rely upon the job title to attract a candidate. Do understand that the title of a job does play a role in attracting quality talent. The trick is to highlight the opportunities and potential to succeed within a job and not simply rely upon the job title alone to woo a candidate. Read the title and ask yourself, will the job measure up to what you are really offering?

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