Our job titles are like ‘dog tags’ equivalents and is used to identify what we do especially in social functions. At best it gives a vague description of our role and at worst some titles are so fancy, you’re left wondering what the person does at all. But does it really matter whether you are a director, manager, consultant or executive?
Managers, Directors, Consultants, and Specialists, unlike 10-20 years ago when they were a dime a dozen, we see them everywhere today. There’s no denying, we live in an era where job titles are given out like free prizes and I might add, at some situations, to some rather underserving individuals
I can make a personal bet that some smart-ass realized that ‘Hey! I can call my employee anything I want, I’m not breaking the law here!’. And frankly, there isn’t any legal definition of job titles except for truly professional ones such as doctors, nurses and accountants (I just hope that they aren’t handing out these titles, but it does seem the odds are increasingly likely that it is happening).
You must have realized that these days, the manager and consultant title is so overused and ‘diluted’ that I even know of some managers who have no one to manage at all besides themselves or consultants whom are actually recent graduates with zero working experience!
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t even be a need for the blog post of mine because job titles would be an accurate description of a person’s abilities, knowledge, experience and accomplishments. Something akin to military ranks (even that is not perfect, at least you know how many years the person has served I presume).
Unfortunately, we’re in reality where perceptions and culture settings matter. So the short answer is YES, your job title does matter. But the more important question is why?
Marketing to Job Titles
In marketing practices, there’s something called segmentation which you probably experienced one or the other before. It’s basically a practice that categorizes people into groups so that a more effective product or message can be targeted at the group.
It is effective to some point when you’re measuring attributes like age and location but when you’re targeting job titles, this becomes tricky. I know of a lot of events which targets C-level executives, managers or certain professional groups, however, who is to say what these definitions are? Someone working by himself may certainly be a Director or a CEO. Because of this marketing segmentation, the level of service you experience and the perks that you receive are worlds apart if you’re on the extreme end of the segmentation.
To cite an example, I was involved in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project of one of our customers which is an independent hotel in Singapore which performed segmentation of their customers. High profile customers such as repeat customers and those with director job titles (especially those from reputable firms) always receives personalized concierge services, and complimentary dinner and drinks, while the others don’t get the same level of attention (though it is still very good level of service for the regular customers; think if it more like the difference between super premium and premium customers).
You really can’t blame the marketers for doing this because they have limited data to work with and they need to always make certain assumptions. Even the marketing campaign at my company (M.SaaS) targets audiences by specific job functions and roles to ensure we get to the right people. I suppose some form of accuracy is better than none.
This marketing segmentation is important to this job title discussion because it is marketing who usually arranges events and networking sessions. If you are indeed a director, manager or someone who needs to be in this circle then chances are if your job title does not fit the segmentation profile, then you are excluded.
And if by chance, you do end up in an event filled by people with similar job titles then there usually is some form of explanation of your job title in the conversation (I personally find this a good thing as it makes for more interesting chatter). Don’t be surprised to get that puzzled look with the expression ‘what’s a person like you do here at this kind of event?’. I’ve personally been in those situations, nothing big but it doesn’t really feel all that nice to ‘justify’ your presence.
The second thing here is the social circle. Depending on which country you live in, the culture plays a big part in determining your role in society based on your job title, of course I’m citing cases where people either just got to know you or are total strangers with you.
Although I really don’t like it but once again, perceptions are everything! It seems that if a job title doesn’t at least have a word like ‘Director’, ‘President’ or ‘Vice-President’ you’re deemed a position on the deep bottom trenches of the infamous rolodex or CRM index categorization.
I recall vividly in a situation where I was invited to make a presentation for an Oracle event, everyone was shocked and impressed when they saw me arrive remarking that I was really young. I get these remarks on looking young a lot, so I didn’t really bother about it. Not until when a staff of the event organizer walked up to me and said ‘Wow!, You’re the youngest General Manager that I’ve met!’. Apparently there was a mistake in my job title and it was promptly and swiftly corrected. I could almost feel the positive impressions fade away at that point.
But reflecting on the matter later on, did it matter what my job title was when I made a perfect presentation? Wasn’t my value to the audience better measured by the content and delivery of the presentation rather than my job title?
While I’m sure the audience appreciated the presentation, I just can’t help but to think that if they had rated me a 9 out of 10, I probably would have a perfect 10 if my job title reflected a certain authority and its influence.
Your Job Title Is Like Your Proverbial Book Cover
It bears repeating that at the end of the day, PERCEPTION MATTERS and most people do judge a book by its cover, and your job title definitely matters!
I truly miss the days when a job title was a real description of one’s accomplishments and responsibilities. When I was a kid, whenever you heard the word ‘manager’ it had real meaning to it.
Now… maybe I should be renaming myself as Business Development Director or perhaps Chief Business Development Officer?