Yes, Job Titles Matter – but They Aren't Everything

Monday, October 30th, 2017 - Resume

If you came across the job title “manager of first impressions,” you’d likely be confused about what that person does. At one company, that title belongs to the receptionist.

Kim Dawson, the director of employee experience at Austin, Texas-based HR tech firm YouEarnedIt, works with that company. She says that the receptionist has been with that organization a long time and doesn’t have any interest in leaving, but this change made her feel better about her job title.

Besides making someone feel good, how much do job titles really matter? We spoke with several experts to determine their relevance and discovered key takeaways.

Titles are important but not everything. Sarah Stoddard, a public relations associate at Glassdoor, says that job titles are important and relevant across both industries and companies, and that they should be considered in negotiations when talking about benefits, perks, salary and so on. Your job title can and should be unique to the skill set and level of expertise you have for that company, she adds.

That said, what someone actually does in their line of work matters more than the title they’re given – and that’s what good recruiters will keep in mind when it comes to looking at candidates.

“An experienced screener or recruiter will quickly look at a title and even more quickly go to the content of a job,” says Jim Link, chief human resources officer at employment agency Randstad North America.

If you want to change your current title, communicate effectively. You need to develop a relationship with your manager before you can approach them with the request for a job title change. This means understanding what your responsibilities are and how well you’re performing, i.e., a culture of continuous feedback, according to Dawson.

The future of work – not just titles – is unclear. Creative titling – job titles that may sound ludicrous, from chief happiness officer to digital prophet – is something that’s come up in the last four or five years, since the economy started rebounding and wages started to recover.

Link adds that there’s a lot of employment disruption going on right now, between the rise of the agile workforce and younger generations demanding more flexibility on where work gets done. The whole movement for agility and collaboration as the next workforce trend may make job titling as we know it obsolete.

Dawson says it’s hard to imagine a time when we don’t have titles, attributing it to the simple fact that they’re intended to tell you what someone does. Ultimately, it’s clear that job titles are whatever a company makes of them.

“I think that job titles will change as cultures within companies change,” Dawson adds. “I love the idea of flexibility with job titles, provided it’s not frivolity.”

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10 Things Your Mom Didn’t Teach You About Job Searching


10 Things Your Mom Didn’t Teach You About Job Searching

Hunting for a new job has changed radically.

A young businessman looks through binoculars.

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When your parents were your age, they may have found job postings in the classifieds section of the local paper. Perhaps Dad showed up at a hiring manager’s office to drop off his glossy resume. Your mom probably networked entirely in person, while wearing a very boxy business suit. But today’s job searching environment is different. The Internet has sparked new norms, and employers have different expectations for how they’ll interact with candidates. Your mom may have the best intentions when she gives you
career advice, but here’s how job hunting has changed since her time.

Your presence is not required.

Your next job won’t appear in the local paper.

A classified ad for a open job position with 401(k) underlined.

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Job hunters are combing through
job boards on computers – and their mobile phones – to find the most recent openings. But better search capabilities mean more applicants. In the past, you may have been one of 15 candidates. Now, you’re likely one among hundreds.

Kicking off a cover letter with “Dear Sir or Madam” is a bad idea.

You don’t need to call to follow up on an application.

A woman talking on the phone.

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Put the phone down. A generation ago, calling to
follow up with a hiring manager may have been an essential part of the process. That’s not true today. Phoning the hiring manager will likely tick him off, and may show that you don’t understand how hiring works these days.

Your patience will be tested.

Your patience will be tested.

Woman staring at a red alarm clock

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Prepare for the interview process to move at a glacial pace. Many companies have added steps to their hiring process, with extra rounds of interviews and a small platoon of interviewers. Be patient. Your dad may have landed his first job with an
on-the-spot offer, but finding a job today job takes time.

Being qualified isn’t enough to land you the job.

Being qualified isn’t enough to land you the job.

Mid adult female design professional reviewing files

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With employers receiving hundreds of resumes for each job posting, looking great on paper may not be enough to score you the job. Some of the decision-making criteria will simply be out of your hands.

Networking doesn’t just happen in person anymore.

Networking doesn’t just happen in person anymore.

A Linkedin profile on a laptop.

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Networking doesn’t only take place during informational interviews and professional happy hours. While those networking opportunities exist today, professional contacts are increasingly developed over social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter.

The hiring manager may call unlisted references.

The hiring manager may call unlisted references.

Close-up of reference check form with pen.

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Your mother probably didn’t tell you that a hiring manager can call anyone you’ve worked with, not just the references listed on your resume.

You shouldn’t expect to hear back – at all.

You shouldn’t expect to hear back – at all.

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Your parents probably think it’s rude when a hiring manager doesn’t respond to an application, even with a gentle rejection note. And it is a little impolite. But don’t expect to hear back from every job you apply to.

You don’t need to put every job on your resume.

You don’t need to put every job on your resume.

A pretty young woman sitting at the end of the table as two businesspeople go over her long resume

(PeopleImages/Getty Images)

Employers don’t want to know about that summer five years ago when you served fast food at Wendy’s. They want the recent and the relevant.

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