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WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 8, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- Evidently a lot.

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I have discussed job titles in the past. Recently though, I happened to notice a listing of titles as included in the job section of LinkedIn. Frankly, I didn’t recognize too many. We’re well past simple titles like Butcher, Baker, Candle-stick Maker which were intended to describe your occupation. If you work in the corporate world though, you will also have to denote where you sit on the totem pole. Historically, we used such titles as President, VP, Director, Manager, Supervisor, etc. Then again, these are slowly disappearing from business cards as the people in Human Resources replace classic jobs with newer and more obscure titles.

To illustrate, the following is a series of titles I found on the LinkedIn site. I discovered what they truly meant only after reading their job descriptions. Let me translate for you:

Publications and Communications Specialist – I was expecting some sort or technician. Instead, is was nothing more than a “Journalist.”

Sales Executive – Actually, it’s simply a “Salesman” job, but I guess they want to be politically correct and not offend the ladies. The use of the term “Executive” would imply some prestigious high-paying job. It wasn’t.

Customer Contact Sales Associate – this is quite a mouthful for what we used to call a “Customer Service Rep.”

Brand, Marketing & Communications (BMC) Sr. Specialist – the expression “branding” has gathered considerable momentum in recent years, thanks to the Internet. In reality, the job description revealed its true nature, “Advertising.” I also enjoyed the “Senior” distinction. I wondered if there was also a “Junior” job title.

Senior Compensation Consultant – what we used to call “Retirement Planning” in the “Personnel Department” (the precursor to “Human Resources”).

Proposal Coordinator – I’m not sure what they plan on coordinating. The job description suggests a “Proposal Writer” instead.

Business Intelligence Solutions Developer – a mouthful for what we used to call a “Systems Analyst.”

Incident Management Lead – also a “Systems Analyst.”

Senior Systems Engineer – ditto.

Performance Management Lead – this was rather interesting. The job description suggests an “Efficiency Expert” which is title long retired.

Manager, Change Management and Informatics – this was what we used to call a “Systems Manager.”

Manager of Decision Sciences – see the previous listing (“Systems Manager”).

Quality Management Systems (QMS) Leader – see the previous, previous listing (also “Systems Manager”).

Insurance Producer – I’m not sure what they intend to produce. The description represents an “Insurance Agent.”

Validation Manager – I had to read the job description a couple of times to “validate” my conclusion: “Spanish Translator.”

Regional Account Manager – what we used to call “Vendor Liaison” or “Contract Administrator.”

Implementation Specialist – this too was a “Contract Administrator.”

I found all of these titles on just one page of LinkedIn’s job listings. There were many more pages and countless other titles.

Maybe the Human Resources people are trying to be more specific regarding the type of person they are looking for, but I think they are compounding their problems by changing job titles into a game of Scrabble. The old job titles are either considered too mundane, or perhaps the companies cannot afford to pay people a decent salary and offer a sophisticated job title instead. I suspect the latter. Somehow these new job titles remind me of the expression, “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

I also noticed the job descriptions were loaded with prosaic gibberish. It would be nice if the Human Resources people would call a spade, a spade, and quit trying to kid the rest of us. We should write to communicate, not to confuse. This isn’t an English Class, it’s about finding the right people to fill the right job.

I am reminded of the old joke about a job applicant who submitted his resume to a manager. After reviewing it, the manager observed, “I really like your resume and want to meet the person who wrote it. Now tell me about you.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MY RECENT TRIP TO MARS – My preliminary notes on the red planet.

LAST TIME:  HI HO, HI HO, IT’S BACK TO WORK WE GO – Now is the time for management to stimulate the work force.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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10 Responses to “WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE?”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “This reminds me of the handbook my college professor gave us for resume writing. There was a list of impressive words to use, including “implemented”, “designed”, “facilitated” and “coordinated” to describe work experience. Just saying “worked my butt off” was frowned upon.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A D.K. of the United Kingdom wrote…

    “Over in the UK we have:
    Vision technicians (window cleaners)
    Superficially cosmetic interior exterior design technicians (Decorators) and lineal mapological transfer agents (taxi drivers) lol!

    It’s a shame people need such things to validate themselves.”

    An I.L. of New York wrote…

    “My boss can call me a dog catcher if he wants to give me a 6 figure salary. Show. Me. The. Money.”

    An M.K. of Solana Beach, California wrote…

    “My company recently got a new IT Director. He asked me what my title was. The question really threw me.

    My official title per the HR department is Business Analyst. But my job duties include software development, Oracle DBA and Unix system administration. I handle EDI processes, report-writing and data warehousing. I also make a good cup of coffee.

    The problem with job titles is that they tend to pigeon-hole us in terms of both salary and personal expectations.”

    A D.G. of Cincinnati, Ohio wrote…

    “I concur. My self-esteem isn’t based on my title (“Application Specialist IV”, “Data Janitor”, whatever!!) if the money’s good enough.

    I call myself the ETL Team Lead because it’s recursive; who gnu?”

    Like

  3. This is so true Tim – you really have some uncanny insights that are right under our noses, but most of us no longer “see” them in our daily lives. I confess, I fell into that trap myself when I had the company I work for allow me to make my title – “Website Coordinator.” I wear many hats while running/managing the website – and thought that title fitting. Imagine my surprise when I saw others who used that exact title on Linkedin! It just cracked me up! I MADE THAT TITLE UP MYSELF. LOL

    Like

    • Tim Bryce said

      Carol – Yea, I try to remind people of things they often overlook. You are tight too that a Job Title might not accurately reflect what we actually do.

      All the Best,
      Tim

      Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A D.B. of Savannah, Georgia wrote…

    “Hey Tim, We have more Chief’s (managers) then Indians where I work. Most of them just standing around.”

    Like

  5. Alton Walston said

    Actually, I think part of this is a union ploy to add job to an existing market. As well as making the job titles sound important.  A janitor is now a sanitation engineer. Does that qualify him for engineering pay?  Not really Just  gave him a little prestige.   Yeas ago when I joined the Air Force, I graduated from school  with  certificate that qualified me to be and aircraft mechanic. So when I was assigned to my first station of duty, I was assigned an aircraft and my title was “Crew Chief” Meaning that all work on the aircraft was my responsibility to  get accomplished. I went to the hangar with the plane for overhaul and signed off on all the work  done after I had inspected it and determined it was done correctly.  I actually had to assist with engine changes and all system overhaul and repair. I love it. Great job and lots of responsibility.  However about mid term of my enlistment the Air Force came up with the directive 66-1. That directive created a specialist for every part of the plane, No longer could I do the work but only inspect and sign off the work of others. For want of a better term, a glorified paper pusher.  Needless to say when my enlistment was up I got out and went to work as a contractor doing the same work that I did as a crew chief.     66-1 created over 200 specialist jobs. most of which I handled routinely as a crew chief.  So I don’t put much stock in job titles. Cheer ole Blake

    ________________________________

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  6. […] WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE? […]

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  7. Francis Dryden said

    Hi Tim,
    In that you’re only “nudging 60″… Human Resources is pretty politically correct (or incorrect) to me!

    Like

  8. […] WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE? […]

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  9. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “Sadly, what I found during my years in industry after leaving the military was that “titles” were often used to “reward” people – without actually having to PAY them for what they did. In other words, it was cheaper to give someone a new title, perhaps with accompanying responsibilities (without the real authority to carry out the responsibilities), but rarely with the pay that should have gone with the recognition. And, some people value TITLES more than anything else, because it makes them SOUND like they’re more important than they really are.”

    Like

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