With Job Titles – Perception is Reality

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Not too long ago my daughter asked what my job title is. When I told her that, since I own the company, I don’t really have one, she was completely perplexed. I’m a founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, and director of marketing all rolled into one with a few other jobs mixed in. She then asked if I’m Rob’s boss. Rob is our president and my co-founder. When I said “no” I could tell she was struggling with making sense of it all.

We live in a world where everyone is assigned a job title that helps us understand what their role is in the company. My wife is a teacher. Pretty simple, right? Rob’s wife is a data scientist for a pharmaceutical company. That title may not be as crystal clear as “teacher” or “carpenter” but most would have somewhat of an understanding of what she does based on her title.

Rob and I are perfectly fine with not having a specific title beyond president & CEO that tells the world exactly what we do with Mamu Media on a day to day basis. However, according to an article on Quartz at Work, some millennials will forgo up to $10,000 in annual salary for a job that has a more appealing job title. We are now seeing companies revamp their job titles into what is perceived as new and more appealing to up their image with potential employees.

Financial services firm, OneAmerica, which has been around since 1877 recently changed the title of their data analysts to “data wrangler”. Sounds like a futuristic wild-west data nerd to me but I think it really helps to accomplish their goal. According to Todd Shock, their vice president of data and analytics, the company had a reputation of being “old and crotchety” and they set out on a mission to change that perception.

The message here is fairly simple. If you never thought about tweaking your job titles to make them sound more appealing to potential employees, it’s time to get on board. The largest generation in the workforce today has grown up in a world where the lines of their social and professional lives are blurred and they put a tremendous amount of value on their personal brands. And, as we are seeing more and more, perception is reality. For some “people operations generalist” sounds so much better than “HR assistant” and they could accept a job offer for the former over the latter even if it paid less money.