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Do Job Titles Matter?

Whether we like it or not, recruitment companies are inundated with candidate CVs boasting increasingly inventive job titles. While the job itself may not have changed, in an effort to breathe new life into our job titles, Receptionists could become “Directors of First Impressions” and a new breed of Temp worker is known as an "On-Demand Executive”. The desire for an innovative job title has infiltrated all levels of seniority: the CEO of a well known outdoor adventure company genuinely signs off emails as “Chief Gorilla”!

RMS JobTitles

As Office* 2015 gets under way this week we were struck by how many different job titles are used to cover office and executive support roles. Office* divides its target audience into three distinct roles: personal assistant, office manager and executive support. The office* seminars themselves refer to a range of job titles including Executive Assistant, Executive PA, Administrative Professional, Brand Ambassador, Event Planner and Project Manager. Since a recent survey concluded that the title Project Manager was so ubiquitous as to be virtually meaningless, we ask what significance we should attach to job titles?

Recruiters are divided on the issue. According to an article in the Huffington Post earlier this year, job description matters far more than job titles. Candidates are advised to list core competencies on their CVs rather than a string of job titles so that you are judged on your abilities rather than on job titles which may or may not accurately reflect the job you did.

Aspire Cambridge, a recruiter in the IT sector, argues that job titles do matter and it’s important that recruiters get them right in order to attract the best candidates for a particular role. For employees, a job title can imply status, power and responsibility, therefore the correct title is an essential part of the recruitment process.

Tessa Meadows-Smith, Director of RMS Recruitment, a leading recruiter of top PAs in London, sees both sides of the debate as valid. “Busy recruiters may do an initial screen of suitable candidates using key word searches of relevant job titles. If a candidate has used an unusual job title, their CV may not show up in the search. The other danger for recruiters is that employers using obscure job titles may attract candidates at the wrong level. A candidate might think they can just change their job title to match a job they want to apply for, but be warned that part of a reference check will be Job Title and that needs to be accurate as well as the description of duties."

She recommends that candidates summarise core skills and highlight key achievements under each role and do a covering letter or discuss with their consultant the transferrable skills and experience for each job. More importantly, a good recruitment company will have invested the time to get to know its clients and candidates on such a level that the job title diminishes in importance. The recruitment consultant will understand exactly what skills are needed to fill a role and whether a candidate’s personality is suited to the company environment.

“There is no substitute for thorough research of a role, the company recruiting for it and the candidate applying for it. The job title is a starting point but considered in isolation, will not lead to the perfect match; there is absolutely no shortcut to understanding how an individual may be suited to a particular role within the context of that company’s culture.”

If you have an unusual job title, please tell us on our Facebook page or on Twitter. Most original (but genuine!) job title will receive a £20 John Lewis voucher.

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