September 30, 2014 – Colleen Niese - Insights

So, What’s in a Title?

“I don’t really care what the job title is” is an often-quoted phrase in the workplace, used in various conversations. The reality though is job titles do matter, a lot, especially when it comes to recruiting and hiring.

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When creating a new position a hiring manager can fall into the trap of giving little thought toward ensuring the actual title aligns with the position’s core responsibilities. The reality though, is the job title plays a major role for attracting candidates and this missed step can sometimes cause wasted time and effort for those involved with the recruiting process. If the title is junior to the core requirements the company may end up sourcing applicants who lack the experience desired; conversely if too senior, the recruiter will find herself sifting through all sorts of applications that have the “right” job title, however are overqualified, and probably too expensive, for the open position.

In these situations, an adjustment to the title and/or the job description can go a long way in ensuring the recruitment pipeline is filled with applicants whose background reflects the hiring manager’s expectations and budget.

Another common pitfall, especially in smaller organizations, is to combine two completely different jobs into one full time position: someone who can do sales and also be the office manager; can oversee HR and process accounts payable, etc. I’ve seen all sorts of combinations through the years and one of the common outcomes is the position can be pretty tough to fill. If the hiring manager is struggling to give these types of positions a title or the title itself is five or more words long, it’s usually an indicator that the position likely doesn’t exist.

I like to encourage hiring managers in this situation to pick one role as the primary job and to interview candidates regarding their desire and ability to manage the other responsibilities.

Job titles implicate compensation structures. There are times when a hiring manager wants the title to be Director, but wants to offer the Manager wage scale. Good candidates know what the various levels of their respective profession pay and if the job title doesn’t match the salary they quickly move on. In these situations, a professional compensation analysis report is the recruiter’s best friend: it will either validate what the local market offers for the open position or conversely provide insight on the profile the opening will attract based on the compensation offered.

Are you interested in more information about job titles and descriptions? uDrive subscribers have access to tools and templates that can help. These can be found in the Recruitment and HR Tools sections of the site.