How Important Is Your Job Title?

Blog Posts, Originally Published in ForbesAshley Stahl

It’s all in the name.

We all want to feel important at our places of business, because we are important. However it can be challenging to communicate the true level of responsibilities we have professionally just by offering a business card or introducing ourselves by role. The HR person reading your application may not know that being associate marketing assistant is a bigger deal than the name suggests.

While studies have uncovered that employees who created their own job titles identified as less stressed, it may lead to shortcomings elsewhere.

As a career coach, I see plenty of resumes. One thing I’ve noticed is how many people are inspired by the article on interesting job titles that exist around the world. Trevor, a career coaching client that I was working with brought his resume to our first meeting. He referred to his current position as “sales rockstar”.

Sure it was refreshing to see something new, but it was hard to ignore the uphill battle that Trevor was setting himself up for.

Trevor could not figure out why he was struggling to get interviews. He was only applying to job postings that he was qualified for. He put effort into each personalized cover letter that was written with a genuine sense of enthusiasm.

By Trevor calling himself a rockstar, he needed to support that claim with evidence. Yes, he had good sales numbers with an advanced degree from a fantastic university, that type of success is relative. A rockstar in a small town, may only be an opening act in a big city. On top of that, making yourself seem like a finished product can turn a hiring manager off.

Let me be clear, you should feel like a rockstar. You have skills to be an immediate asset.

Being a sales “rockstar” comes with a few negative connotations though. For starters it gives the impression that Trevor would not be open to feedback. A rockstar seems set in his ways. Using the word rockstar also implies a lack of structure. As much as new approaches may be appreciated, there are still corporate policies to follow. Finally and maybe most importantly, a more traditional hiring manager may think a sales rockstar is not taking the process seriously based on the title.

The point is that you and Trevor need to put yourselves in the shoes of the person looking at your professional experience. They won’t know the details of your story until they meet you. That is why it is critical to do everything you can to put yourself in a position to get that meeting.

If you saw “Paranoid in Chief” at Yahoo on an application that you were evaluating, would you know that title is for the person in charge of all information security at Yahoo?

More importantly, would you believe it?  It looks more like a book title than a job title. And you don’t want to be HR’s resume entertainment on their lunch break.

I know what you’re thinking, when applying for a job you not only give a job title, but also what that job entails. That is absolutely true. My advice is coming from a place of not wanting to give the person reviewing your application any reason to disregard it.

In the job hunting process, you only have control over so much – might as well perfect those aspects.

Ashley Stahl coaches job seekers to find their purpose and land more job offers. She also runs CAKE Publishing, a ghostwriting house that helps influencers create content.

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