Chief executive officer, general manager, project coordinator, executive PA... what do they actually mean? A couple of years ago you were your job title, but how times have changed. How many people know three or four people who have the same job title but do not have anywhere near the same responsibilities, similar skill sets or are in the same salary bracket? Not too many come to mind I'm sure.
There is no definite list which has been compiled to state what your job title should be if you are required to do certain duties, there are some guidelines, lists or sites to help you, but nothing official. Due to this, every company or corporation sees different roles as different titles. Some companies are even adapting titles and becoming creative and adventurous. Says Catherine Lee, Finance Recruitment Consultant at Recruitgroup: "We are now seeing an evolvement of job titles in the work place. In some cases we are even seeing previously senior or authoritative positions being brought down to a more junior level and vice versa, titles such as 'executive' or 'manager' don't have as much meaning to some people as they did previously." For example what does a financial manager do? It can range from being one of the most senior positions in the company and someone who helps keep the company financially afloat and supervises or manages the finance team; or the financial manager could simply be a bookkeeper who assists with or manages the company's finances. So which is it you may be asking?
In recent years people have taken their job titles very seriously and literally, which they should do so indeed. After all you have been given a prestigious "label" in your company; you have business cards and e-mail signatures with your title printed in bold next to your name. It gives one a great sense of achievement and acceptance into the work place which is what we are all ultimately looking for. One would also think a company can't possibly have a whole lot employees labelled as just that, employees. Where do you even start differentiating job responsibilities, seniority and salary band widths without any of the guidelines that we can find in job titles? But believe it or not there are some companies who have attempted to take all job titles away and have found it rather beneficial. For example, The Richards Group in the USA, erased the titles of 560 employees and gave the company's 20 executives the same title of, principal. Nobody resigned and it was reported that employees seemed to be more focused on their jobs.
Bearing all that in mind, nowadays we actually cannot afford to take job titles literally. Says Catherine: "In your current company your title could be that of Chief Operating Officer but in your next job you could be an Operations Manager but you are still doing the same duties and possibly getting paid a better salary." Some research actually found that during the economic crisis, cash-strapped companies started handing out important sounding titles in lieu of raises or bonuses. This has now landed those same companies in trouble as their employees started researching what their job title should be earning and expected the employer to match that. A recent survey by Salary.com found that nearly 80 percent of employees who claim to be underpaid are actually overpaid, fairly paid, or holding titles that don't match their jobs. About 30 percent of those respondents most likely were over titled.
So what are we to do? Where do you even start if you would like to create or fill a vacant position in your company? What do you search or apply for when looking for a job? Well the one aspect that will never change is that there are certain skill sets that candidates need to have to keep a company going; these are aspects that will never change. Catherine goes on to say, "you should rather look at what the job entails and make an informative decision based on that. As enticing as a lavish job title is, it is often better to try and look past that and focus on the skills that you are good at or are looking for. By doing this it will ensure that you are more successful in your job and have a higher success rate of finding a suitable candidate who can do what the vacancy requires."
As great as it might be to create new job titles, adjust existing ones or assign a professional sounding title to an employee, a title is often just a title and it is what lies beneath the label, the duties, responsibilities and skills that really matters.