Ignore the Title

“I’m interviewing applicants for a position and one has told me they’d prefer to call the position something else. I’m not really comfortable with the new title suggested. What do I tell them?”

Your HR Survival Tip

When a company realizes they have a position available, it will typically (or should) write up a job description. The description outlines the most important aspects of the job duties and what skills and/or training are needed. The title for that position should reflect both the duties and the skill level.

The smaller the company, the more likely it seems they “over-title” positions. Often the higher level title is to help compensate for lower pay. However, over-titling a position doesn’t work out well for the company or employee. The company may grow and need someone above that employee… but the title is already being used so they have to create an even higher title. The employee isn’t really doing the work because they don’t have the skills. Then their resume looks bad because they can’t get another job at that title’s level.

One way to determine if a title fits the position is to look at job ads. When you look up the title you’ve chosen, is it represented in the ads as a similar position to yours? Smaller companies may not be able to pay quite as well as a large company but the duties and skills required should come close to matching.

The strange and unique titles that pop up may seem cute or fun at the time but they aren’t helpful. Can you run an ad for your “Happiness Manager” opening and receive any useful resumes? Can others in your company understand and explain that role?

The desire for better titles is why the secretary position has evolved over time. There was a time when a secretary, administrative assistant, and executive assistant were distinctly different roles but now those titles are mixed up and the roles are not as clearly defined.

While it may seem a bit boring, sticking to known titles that best fit the duties and skill level will be to your advantage over time as you grow and need more levels of titles. It also works out best for the employee because their resume will more easily reflect their growth in skills as the titles match that growth.

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