Although the economy is in the toilet and unemployment remains high, highly skilled and ambitious employees are usually not at risk of losing their jobs. In fact, these employees are highly sought after and frequently contacted by recruiters trying to get them to “jump ship.” In other words, there will always be jobs for these employees even though the rest of us may be unemployed. Companies clearly recognize the value of these employees and will use all available strategies to retain them.
During good economic times, this usually means a promotion and a concomitant salary increase. However, during recessionary times companies tend to promote these “good” employees into position with greater authority without a pay raise: the assumption being that tacking on a fancy new job title with some added responsibilities will be sufficient to stroke an employee’s ego and ignore the lack of additional compensation for a larger workload.
To that end, the folks over at the online masters degree website recently posted an article entitled Job Title Stuffing 101: 12 Buzzwords to Inflate a Job’s Importance. It is a veritable tutorial on inflated job titles and the one that you ought to avoid (see below) if possible.
1. Manager: This title may be given to anyone and everyone who ever heads up a project or department, no matter how large or small. It’s used to give slight leverage to the person in charge of the task at hand, but can mean little to the project manager’s supervisors. Because many companies push team creativity, the manager is primarily responsible for turning things in and will be the one to hear about if the boss isn’t satisfied
2. Strategist: A strategist of any type simply means you plan tasks and have some idea of how these tasks are most efficiently executed. For example, in the case of a content strategist, it means you create and organize the content of a newsletter, website, or blog. Is the job important? Sure. But for some reason content strategist sounds a lot more impressive than web editor. You take your pick, but if the former is going on your resume, you better deliver.
3. Deputy: In the age of the Internet, there’s a deputy for many jobs. What does this mean? Well, it means you aren’t quite a junior or an assistant, but the company doesn’t have the funds to pay you like they would someone with the actual title. An example is an editor-in-chief versus a deputy editor. One issuse that you may run into being a deputy of any sort is more on your plate than you bargained for. But you’re the deputy, so you can handle it, right?
4. Senior: Companies love to tack this one onto a title. Senior web writer or senior designers are common for firms. What does this senior title translate to? Anyone with 5+ years of experience in a field and still utilizing those skills can serve as a senior, usually without the pay or responsibilities of management. Simply put – you do your job well, but the buck stops here.
5. Producer: This one has become popular for the web. Web producer pops up on many mainstream blogs and sites. A producer can wear many hats, and for a company that means more bang for their buck. Sure, you will be producing content, but expect handling anything the project throws your way even if it isn’t in the job description (and there’s a solid chance it won’t be)..
6. Supervisor: Like managers, this title can be hit or miss. For large corporations that have had to cut back and eliminate lower level management, pawning the title of supervisor off on an entry level employee who’s been in their cubicle for six months means having someone in the office to make sure things run well without having to douse them in a raise. There are some supervisors who are able to oversee a small department, but ultimately are not the first in command for their subordinates.
7. Ambassador: This job title buzzword is almost an insult to the actual word! In the age of promoting, you know, everything, the job title of brand ambassador is given to celebrities in a niche group that endorse the product sometimes without appearing in ads. This person is contracted by the company or simply receives perks and free services from the brand. They often do little more than show up at launch parties and events and plugs the company as needed. For Channel, The Misshapes Leigh Lazar serves as a brand ambassador and for AT&T, there’s Internet has-been Justine. The problem with brand ambassadors is often large corporations are the last to discover the new face of a niche audience.
8. Professional: A friend says that anytime you have to tack the word professional onto your job title, you must not have a real job. This is up for debate, but let’s take a look at a couple of titles that utilize the word. How about professional organizer? Or records distribution professional? By the way, the latter is the new uppity name for mail room clerk. Yes, even those fresh out of college need an inflated job title. Professional used to mean you had proper training for whatever you do, now it means you are paid some type of wage for what you do, no matter how little that is or the responsibility it entails.
9. Consultant: Who knows what you do with this title. It can mean you directly fix problems, as in the case of IT consultants or it can mean you merely offer your advice, in the case of interior design consultants. Many consultants bring in the big bucks and are contracted by major corporations, but many others work for themselves and struggle to get by. While this title isn’t necessarily inflated, it doesn’t really give the total picture of what you’re hired to do either (which you may prefer).
10. Vice President: Somewhere in the past decade, a lot more vice presidents have shown up to the company picnic. Instead of having a manager of ____, that job became VP of Public Relations or VP of Human Resources. It means second-in-command, in that department and not much more. There used to be only one
VP per company, but we’re guessing the more, the merrier, even if it is job title inflation in its boldest form.
11. Global: Even a mom-and-pop shop can have a Global Director of Communications. It can be mom, working from the family’s dry cleaning business to update the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Many companies are employing social media personnel and since a lot of these companies indeed do business around the world, why not stick the word global onto the job title of someone who represents your business to the world? It makes the job sound more exciting and may get you onto someone’s Follow Friday!
12. Lead: The word lead in a job title can mean a lot or a little. In some cases, it means you are heading up an operation, but in most cases it means the company is utilizing you for your skills and maximum potential without proper pay. Some companies use this title as a stepping stone between entry level and a lower management position to see if someone is ready for the next tier of responsibilities.
While promotion without compensation is not novel, it is rampant in today’s uncertain economic times. A word of advice: if you are being considered for a promotion, the first thing that I would ask is whether or not the promotion comes with a pay increase. If not, you ought to think twice about accepting the promotion and call the recruiters back who are trying to lure you away to a competitor’s company. Accepting a position with increased responsibility without a pay raise sends a signal to management that you can be exploited and taken advantage of. And, management will likely continue to exploit you until you call that recruiter back who tells you that a person with your title and level of responsibility can earn much more at a competitor company! That begs the question: Is job title inflation without compensation really a good way to promote employee retention? I think not!
Hat tip to onlinemastersdegree.org
Until next time…
Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!