The Importance of the Job Title

How many times have you heard someone say “Don’t worry about the job title, it’s not important”?

It’s often spoken by recruiters or new employers, and since people don’t want to be seen to be status oriented they let it go.

Mistake.

Your job title is important.  The new job may be much bigger than the old one, but if they give you the job title of  a junior you’ll struggle to persuade the next employer.

An example came up in a workshop I facilitated recently.  A senior experienced finance person, who in the past had titles like Finance Director, took a job as the top finance person in an organisation, a job that in pretty much any organisation would be known as Chief Financial Officer or Finance Director.  They wanted her card to say Financial Controller, a role typically at least a rung lower down the career ladder, and, importantly, a technical rather than strategic role in most places.

So what can this person do about it?  It’s tricky but “Financial Controller” is misleading, and using another title would be dishonest.  One possible way out of the mess is to put something like “Financial Controller (most senior financial role, reporting to MD), then below, a little bit of information demonstrating the size of the role with data about the size of the team, or amount of money under control as well as clear messages about the strategic rather than technical achievements.

Another recent client was changing role within her organisation.  She was a Director and the new role was, in terms of corporate structure, a step down, ‘though no less significant.  The company wanted to take “Director” out of her title but I helped her to negotiate to keep it in.  This way, when she leaves the organisation the issue of the demotion is not going to be a problem at interviews.

So if something like this ever happens to you, and your potential employer says “the title is not important”, just remember that it may not be important to them but it sure is to you.

My next workshop is Interview Preparation and it takes place on Wednesday February 9th in London, details here.

On February 29th I’ll be running my Networking for Jobsearch workshop again.  Details here.

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