What is a job title?

Job Titles – what do they actually mean?
What is a job title?

It would seem that a job title gives a snap shot explanation of what the person does in their job. And I think this is true for many jobs: sales, manager, accountant, scientist, researcher, writer, and so on.

However, there are some job titles that really don’t say much: VP in sales, People manager, associate, executive and so on. As you can see they aren’t really clear about what the role is about. And on top of that the fact that companies apply job titles differently. An executive in one company is a junior and anther company a senior, a VP in sales is the second most important person in sales in one place and another it is the sales team.

Companies are also trying to find ‘fun’ ways of titling jobs, don’t, it is not necessary. The title of jobs really isn’t going to say much about your brand experience as an employee in the company. Careful also, if you are inventing or using titles because they are ‘en mode’ especially if you actually don’t really know what those titles mean.

Few times does a job title really reflect what the person does in the job, and when I mean reflect, I include that it lacks any ‘meaning’.

And you may be wondering why this detail is important. The simple fact that people search for jobs largely based on key words, i.e. job titles.

How people find jobs – based on job titles

Of course there are some roles that are clear in their title, so I am not talking about those.

But most people when searching for a job will type in a job title as their search compass rather than search from a business perspective (i.e. sector, values, mission). It means that a bunch of candidates don’t really care much for the business when they are applying for the job opening. As mentioned before, this type of job title search is fine for those roles that require specific knowledge. The result will be that some people and some companies will never cross paths in their searches.

If you realise that most people applying are simply triggered by the title rather than the actual business, keep that in mind when you are filtering through the applications and interviewing.

This ‘job title’ thing is an issue for me and especially in my current job search because I don’t fall under a job title or at least not the same job title across the different businesses and organisations in the field I am interested in. On top of that, having been away from the desk world I don’t know how to package my experiences and skills that would reflect well the work I am able to offer and what I am looking for. I am probably not a common case, but I am sure there are many other people out there in my position, especially if they have been freelancers, self-employed or entrepreneurs.

For me, I am more interested in who I would be working with. Sure I do the job title search but then I look into the company/entity and really try and understand whether how they operate and what they do align with me.

I always wonder, wouldn’t companies rather hire someone who actually understands and is truly supportive of the business?

And in thinking about this question what it really seems to come down to is - who are you really looking for and why? In short, is sticking a job title the best way to find the right people?

Hiring someone is really about inviting someone into a group who is going to participate in contributing to solving a problem. It is really down to understanding why and what is missing.

What do we really need this person to do and why?
What exactly do we need this person to be handling?
What do we need them to deliver and when?
How do we need them to work?

By going through these questions you will be able to have a better picture of the skills and outcome of having this new person on the team. The benefits are a job description that actually has meaning and maybe even a job title that is descriptive of the position.

And what if you didn’t put a job title for the description? What would happen? First, you’d probably get applications from people who already know your business and follow you in some form, or these people would be recommending their network for this role. This makes for a cleaner pool of candidates. Second, a person would really be answering and fitting into the team because their drive is not the title but the work and this actually would give a wider pool of candidate backgrounds. And third, by posting a description in this manner you are also pushing a bigger interest in and focus on the person, the newcomer.

I mentioned this approach to a friend and she actually said that in one small business she worked at, this was how they hired. They knew some skills they needed but the focus was on whether this person would work well with the team. So, it’s not a crazy idea


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