What’s in a Name (Job Title) in Business and at Work? Plenty.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet.

– Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II.


In my job-posting travels for clients on Friday, I came across this job posting title:


Quality Assurnce Manager

About the Job

Quality Assurance Manager

At least “manager” was spelled correctly.  Still chuckling at this particular organization’s obvious need for a Quality Assurance Manager, the job posting title reminded me to explore with you this week the importance of job titles in business and at work.  As you search to get the right new hires on your organization’s success bus, job titles can be a double-edged sword, potentially undercutting your fill-time productivity:

  • If the job title on your posting is too lofty (e.g., the title on your posting says “Vice President of Administration” but in reality, you’re looking for Administrative Assistant candidates with the intent of paying at the most $15 an hour), you’re wasting everyone’s time, especially your own, by reviewing applicants confused by your job posting title who are way out of your price range.
  • Large organizations in particular, for Wage and Hour compliance purposes, have an overabundance of grade levels and accompanying titles.  For candidates who currently hold the Director title, how excited will they be to apply for your open Associate Director of Finance position?
  • Smaller organizations tend to reward employees with loftier titles, as a consolation prize for less competitive compensation and benefits.  This well-intentioned reward can periodically backfire, particularly when your $15 an hour Vice President of Administration starts comparing their compensation to what’s listed on free candidate compensation survey websites.  Candidates and current employees get what they pay for on those free websites; however, while the data is imprecise, both candidates and employees will make the negative impact on their morale abundantly clear to you and anyone else in your organization who cares to listen.
  • Are your job posting titles too generic, e.g. Human Resources Associate or Human Resources Business Partner?  Once I read the job posting verbiage, I can generally calibrate the job function and organization level.  However, this has been my area of subject-matter expertise for more than 20 years.  Your average applicant is confused by generic titles, and the applicant results are generally as bland as the job posting titles: no one stands out because they’re not quite sure what makes your job posting title stand out.

Want to get the best players on your organization’s success bus?  Ensure that the words of the job posting title match the music of that key position you need to fill yesterday, in business and at work.


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