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What's in a job title?

4 months ago by Rae Goss

​“What’s in a job title?” - William Shakespeare if he was applying for a job on Indeed...

There have been arguments made that job titles mean nothing, that with job titles come a sense of entitlement, define our identity, status and self-esteem and contribute to toxicity in a workplace.

As a recruiter I have completely different reasons for disagreeing with the idea of job titles, there are just too many of them.

Let’s look at an entry-level commercial role in a fresh produce business and the multitude of job titles that cover the same role. Graduate Trainee, Graduate Assistant Commercial Executive, Commercial Graduate, Junior Account Manager, Account Executive, Sales Account Manager are just a few versions of the same exact job. How is anyone distinguishing the difference between any of these, especially someone who is new to the workforce and realistically has no clue what the job they are about to apply for really entails.

When applying for a role, a job title is the first (and maybe the last) thing people look at. Candidates use job titles to assess how well they qualify for a position - if a job title comes across as too senior, this could intimidate candidates and they could convince themselves they do not have the right qualification for the job, skipping the application process altogether.

This also is true for the reverse. According to a Hewlett Packard internal report, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.” Imagine how many of these people don’t even make it past the job title before they decide they aren’t qualified enough for a role.

In a perfect world, or at least my perfect world, there would be an array of standardised job titles every business in the UK would be obligated to comply with. Unfortunately for me, we don’t live in a perfect world, and I don’t have an immediate solution to this problem, but I do know it is a topic that employers should think about when crafting job titles for various roles.

My advice for all the employers out there would be to keep your job titles short and sweet, specific and concise.

My advice for candidates applying for these jobs is to not read too much into a job title, or even job descriptions for that matter, but that is another topic for another blog post!