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Job Titles Don't Matter: Here are Tips to Overcome Yours

04/14/2015 09:09 EDT | Updated 06/14/2015 05:59 EDT
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"I'm auditioning for the role of Co-ordinator."

If you were ever in theatre you know that phrasing oh-to-well. A name for the role of the part you'd like to play is arbitrarily decided by the writer. You assume the role, if of course you get the part.

It is entirely similar to the workforce. You audition for the role of Co-ordinator #1, a title picked arbitrarily by either the hiring manager, human resources, or the company at large. But what does that really mean? Even if each play had two farm hands it doesn't mean that you'd be playing the same part. And that is exactly why job titles don't matter.

The job description always counts for more. I remember when I was a Social Media Manager, many thought the position was exactly the same as a Community Manager. Both of those titles were coined when the digital media age required companies to step up to the plate and hire, full-time, someone to co-ordinate their Twitter account. It was seen as a role that wasn't in management, but simply given the title linking into managing platforms. Therein lies the challenge, my position was in management, but was often not treated as such. Would "Manager, Social Media" make more sense? Would that clearly define it? What if I had of been a "Social Strategist?" Would that have eluded to Management at all? Neither matter, and that's the main thing. I would have been performing the exact same duties. Your job title is only holding you back because you're reading way too much into it.

So how do you overcome it?

1. Get over it

Sounds simple enough, get over it. Titles are entirely self-fulfilling, they make you, and only you, feel like you matter. See how many times I said you? No one else cares if you're the Co-ordinator, Senior Co-ordinator or Managing Co-ordinator. You care, that's it.

2. Ask for a change

If it really does matter to you (and sometimes it should), find out what the most common title is in your industry based on your job description, propose that. Never ask to be a Senior Strategist unless that's really what you do. I've asked for a title change and I had to defend my rationale, you will, too. Do your homework.

3. List off your core competencies

If you're applying for a job and worried that pesky title is going to hold you back, do yourself a large favour and utilize the first part of your resume to list off your core competencies. Not a single person will be able to judge your job title if you've stated you are a team leader with proven ability to empower others.

4. Manager ≠ Manager

I've seen someone with the title Editor-In-Chief. Fancy! That was a dream job of mine back in high school. Little did I know that title was given to them by themselves, for a blog only they write for. So you see what I'm saying when titles don't always add up? The Manager position at a small and nimble company is often not the same as that at a Fortune 500 company -- I am proof of that. My management title held no weight when I was interviewed for a management position at a huge financial company. Don't get bogged down in the "level game" because we're not all on the same playing field.

Moral of the story, be fantastic at your job -- that title will come soon enough or not at all. But it surely shouldn't change your work ethic or ability to produce fantastic results.

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