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April 15, 2014

What’s in a Name…Or Job Title?

Filed under: Compensation,Hiring & Jobs6:00 am

In Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks, “What’s in a name?” Her meaning behind the question is that names are somewhat arbitrary and are not the key element that gives someone value or the qualities he/she possess.

However, when it comes to HR, the “names” we use for jobs are job titles and they certainly carry some weight. Think of some of the strange job titles you’ve seen on an applicant’s résumé or perhaps some your organization actually uses. Maybe it’s a Conversation Architect or an Insight Guru. Perhaps it’s something that’s not quite so strange but may be a bit misleading like a Marketing Manager or an Operations Coordinator.

Job titles have consequences, both positive and negative. Sometimes changing an employee’s job title in lieu of a pay increase can be motivating and boost morale. But what about the websites employees can look at where salaries are self-reported? With this new title, he/she may assume that his/her pay is now in need of an increase as well. Or, what applicants are you misleading or missing out on because the title you posted was above or below their expectations?

And of course, there’s the ever-popular “manager” title. There’s certainly argument to call someone a manager when he/she manages a function, but that can be a double edged sword. Let’s suppose we have an employee who manages various marketing projects and has the title Marketing Manager. If this individual asks around for what Marketing Managers make, suddenly it looks like he/she is underpaid. This employee can feel important to be called a manager, but suddenly be dissatisfied when the title seems to imply more money than he/she is currently receiving.

Moral of the story? Choose your job titles wisely. It can affect morale, your recruiting ability, and turnover.

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