What’s really in a job title?

By Las Rodrigo – Head of Recruitment, Macau

One subject that has affected us all at some stage in our careers is this: our job title. I have worked in a few countries around the world and, in my experience, a job title is key to the overall decision making process of whether or not to accept a job, particularly here in Asia. I have had offers turned down due to the title not being changed, or it not demonstrating a particular level of seniority.

However, what is in a job title exactly?

When you apply for a role (irrespective of the level), the first thing you are naturally drawn to is the title because:

  1. It reflects your working experience to date so far;
  2. The job description usually describes what you are currently doing, or what you aspire to do and have had some experience in doing;
  3. The company that is offering the role with the particular level you are applying for ticks a lot of boxes for you where you can develop and grow.

As a seasoned recruiter, I can safely say that, when reviewing applications for a particular role, we have all come across situations where a few of the applicants have no suitable experience whatsoever for the role. If they had read the job description, then this would have been highlighted and the applicant most likely would not have bothered applying. It then becomes clear that all they have read is the job title. However, in some cases, when reviewing these applications, a few are not a million miles away either.

Team leaders aspire to be managers; managers want to one day become a director; directors want to be Managing Directors; and, depending on the size of the respective organisation, there are a multitude of different levels in between that determine what level you believe you should be operating at depending on your level of experience and success.

I have met with Managing Directors that manage only two people and, on the other side, met with Managers that have teams of 10 plus.

Everyone wants to grow and develop and is driven by the youth of today; everyone pretty much wants this tomorrow, especially if you are working in a larger organisation.

Having recently given a few presentations at a local university here in Macau, I had the opportunity to speak to a few students who mostly all want to be managers once they graduate and land their first role in their respective field. Yes, they want their first role to be a manager! With no experience and a few even said they would apply for such roles.

So, when applying for a role, no matter at what level you are operating, nor which particular field, I recommend a few things (nothing new but worth reminding):

  1. Read the job description in detail.
  2. Review the job description against your own CV – do you genuinely believe you could be a great candidate for this role?
  3. Research the organisation to which you are applying. If you are applying to be a Regional Director, will you be one of a number or one of a few?
  4. Is the role/company prone to a high turnover? Sometimes the lure of a big role comes with big risk.
  5. Where do you see your career progression within this organisation in a few years’ time? Do YOU believe you can progress?

I believe it is important to be realistic in this and not be driven by peer pressure. If you have your own path and goals, learn and hone your management skills, as well as your leadership qualities and find a good mentor either within your organisation or outside who you can look to for a little guidance.

You will progress and you will grow.

Yes, you may see a few of your colleagues progress quicker than you, but everyone has the potential to reach whatever level they want – IF they want it; it just takes a little time.

However, time is one of those things that’s not viewed well. We don’t have much patience, nothing will change that. If you want to be a manager within two to three years, what steps/courses/work experience do you need to take now and fulfil in order to achieve that? Understand this and your title will reflect your role and hopefully it won’t be too much of an issue if it isn’t already now.

A final bit of food for thought …

The majority of us (certainly in recruitment anyway) are driven by earning good money and seeing that grow over the years. How many of you would take a step or two back in your job title to earn more money? What would it take for you? Some say they would need a 50% increase in order to accept this – but let’s be realistic.

If you want to find out more about where your career can take you, Links Career Tree allows you to plan ahead to see what salary, work-life balance and overseas work opportunities you can expect depending on how your career grows. Should you require any further career advice to see how we can help you take your career to the next level, please do not hesitate to contact us.