Career Center Blog

August 22, 2013

Why you shouldn't care (too much) about your job title


NWjobs

Even when money is not tight, employers are always looking for ways to cut corners. If you are one of the many layoff "survivors" doing what used to be the work of two (or more) people, you don't need to be told this.

One corner-cutter that has been around a long time but seems to be getting new life of late is this oldie but goodie:

"Give 'em a title instead of a raise."

Yup, title inflation. And I don't mean just the array of team administrators, co-chairpersons, assistant directors, supervisory assistants, affiliate managers, assistant associate managers and whatnot that have been around since forever.

I mean genuinely confusing titles like "Chief People Officer." Sounds cool, modern and kind of zippy, doesn't it? So it's somewhat of a letdown when you find out that it means "human resources manager."

Some of the newer titles are downright misleading. "Director of First Impressions" sounds fabulous. The fact that it's just another way to say "receptionist" makes it a whole lot less fabulous, and even embarrassing.

Other titles are just nonsensical (yes, even more nonsensical than Director of First Impressions), such as "Vice President of Cool" or "Chief Fulfiller of Needs." They sound great. But what are they?

Of course, a nice title can be ... nice. It may boost you to a higher salary bracket, which could help at raise time. It may give you better leverage with customers. It can be an eye-catcher on a business card. It may even make you feel better, thus making you work harder.

But chances are you'll soon realize that your job and your pay and your life are unchanged, except for the fact that you will be constantly explaining your title. Worse, when job-hunting time comes around, an inflated or confusing title on your resume may confound and annoy potential employers.

The thing to remember here is that a fancy title costs an employer nothing, and it is not a substitute for better working conditions, a more flexible schedule or -- best of all -- an actual raise.

Should you care about your job title? Sure. Just keep inflation in mind.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at kburns@nwjobs.com.

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

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