Job titles have historically been used to categorise experience, expertise, and responsibilities, summarising a person’s work history into a few words.
The importance of the title is recognised at both ends of the recruitment process, being a way to attract a potential candidate, or a way to make your CV more attractive to a recruiter. While role descriptions give further context, the title indicates responsibility and seniority.
The value of a title to an individual can vary greatly depending on the outcomes they are pursuing in their career and the place they wish to hold in society. Hunter Careers evaluates the impact and relevance of job titles from perks to pitfalls.
Promotions, productivity, and retention
Throughout an employee’s journey with a company, their title may evolve along with their responsibilities. According to research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK, two-thirds of employees do not realise the value in a title change unless they see an increase in their salary.
Bolstering a title can have the opposite impact as intended, where short-term motivation can severely decline without comparable improvements to non-cash benefits, or a salary increase on the horizon pending agreed benchmarks.
A job title can give employees a clear path to advancing in an organisation, where they are willing to produce greater results to be promoted. Workplaces are hierarchical in nature, and it is natural for people to strive for a higher position due to the underlying emotional ties to a need for success. Companies benefit from this pattern with higher engagement and productivity.
Engagement and credibility
Your title shows the outside world where you sit in the company structure, the role you play and if you are a key decision maker. Having a clear title makes it simpler for those outside the organisation to approach the correct employee to engage with. The same is true for employees inside the organisation looking for the clearest path to collaboration and completing tasks.
For employers, accurately titling the job is crucial to ensuring the right talent is applying for the role. Candidates won’t be misled by the title, and they will reap benefits in engaging and retaining talent. For candidates, titles are crucial for giving hiring managers insight into responsibilities and level, helping them to understand whether an application is worth reading further.
Additionally, a job title can improve the success rate of an employee approaching a client. This boost in credibility has a positive impact on clients’ willingness to proceed with a purchase. However, if you are a director reaching out to someone junior, the idea of someone in a senior role doing day-to-day work can impact credibility in a negative way.
Alternative and inflated titles
While creative titles can be appealing to those in the role at the time, it can impact an individual when searching for their next role as it will not translate as well to their desired position in a traditional company structure. The same can be said for the inflated importance of titles.
In small organisations, title inflation can be common. While it may be gratifying to employees to have inflated titles, it will ultimately hurt them in their search for their next role as they cannot be easily compared to their peers in larger organisations.
This is where the scale of the role and experience carries more weight than the title. When assessing a candidate in flat organisational structures, less value is placed on titles in their workplaces. Employers instead value their employees’ contributions, solutions, and ideas.
According to Hunter Careers Managing Director Samantha Badcock, inflated titles may also come with raised expectations beyond an employee’s level of skill and experience, which could adversely affect colleague relationships.
“It can also impact on the confidence of the employee, where they feel they’re not measuring up,” Samantha says. “An appropriate title with a clear employee development plan can be a better way to go,” she says.
“Or, if an inflated title is a way to attract talent, then it’s important to set KPIs based on the candidate’s current experience set, while providing them the right training and mentorship to grow into their title within a mutually agreed timeframe.”
In essence, job titles only hold significance where an individual has a set career goal, how sensitive they are to society’s interpretation of their role and its importance, and how potential employers and hiring managers can index talent. The importance of a job title is only as great as its ability to serve you throughout your desired career path.
If you have questions about the best way to structure your organisation’s job titles, get in touch with Hunter Careers here.