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Cubester®: Why young professionals chase job titles

Posted on 03-01-2019
Cubester®: Why young professionals chase job titles

By Gloria Christiansen, Courtney Emerson and Siri Svay

There has been murmur among young professionals about job titles and their impact. Titles no longer only signify one’s occupation or responsibilities, they now act as important identifiers in a social media-driven generation. Today’s era of technology facilitates the ubiquitous digital presence of job titles, including email signatures, LinkedIn profiles and other forms of public digital networks. 

However, job titles can lead to peer-to-peer comparison, re-evaluating these “place markers” as to where you are in your career and your life. Because anyone can see another’s job title, you should chase one that benefits you and your career, whether it be for social reasons or for career advancement.

What are the drivers of a beneficial job title? Let’s take a quick look.

For the employee seeking a new opportunity and the next career move

“I want everything to match. My pay should reflect my title and responsibilities, and we can avoid the overused statement, ‘I don’t get paid enough to do this.’” – Account manager at an advertising agency.

After years of working the same job with the same title, employees know they have what it takes to go to the next level – not only in attitude and spirit, but also in skills and ability. However, when applying elsewhere for elevated job titles with higher pay and similar responsibilities, there is no response. And when browsing other opportunities with the same titled job, the desired pay is not there.

Consistency can be a good thing, but complacency in one’s position can also have detrimental effects. When transitioning jobs, future employers want to see growth in a job within a company. Your duties changed, but not your title, and this isn’t reflected to new employers. In addition, seeing the same one position for an extended period doesn’t translate well either. 

For the recruiter seeking new talent

“Title is important early in a career to build your resume. It shows people believe in your work ethic and are willing to give more responsibility.” – Assistant director of recruitment at a university.

Titles play a role when recruiting candidates for placements; recruiters search keywords of positions when doing research for their clients seeking new hires. It’s standard for people on both sides of the job search to use websites, which provide an understanding of what pay grades come with certain titles – a ballpark of what is considered “normal” or “average,” therefore setting expectations.

Sometimes there is a disparity between candidates’ titles and their descriptions – a resume could be “worth” $60,000 in responsibilities but combats a title that underserves the monetary value.

For the employer maintaining retention

“In a business world where employee turnover can be costly, early promotions and title changes can be the extra confidence that keeps [employees] engaged and loyal to the company.” – Associate at engineering consulting firm.

Employees enjoy feeling recognized, so companies wanting to keep employees happy will promote them with pay raises and elevated job titles. This signifies reward for hard work and delivers an unspoken message that there is guaranteed continued growth within a firm. With this “promised” growth, happy employees will aspire to embody leadership roles, following the path established for them early on.

For the content and aspirational employee climbing the ladder

They’re reaffirmed of their value and contribution to the company, which influences them to continue expanding their abilities to tackle bigger challenges and responsibilities. Eventually once they reach executive roles, their title will carry heavier weight, commanding respect, which means something of accomplished value.

For the future

As the mystery of our lives becomes more exposed in the digital age, thereby facilitating a constant comparison to others, young professionals will continue the trend to chase titles. Whether it’s within the same company/organization or somewhere new, young professionals will stay hungry to further define their identity and growth to success.

However, career ladders vary across industries and companies, as do promotion structures. Everything is situational and dependent on personal goals and what each person hopes to accomplish.

This article was originally published on the Houston Business Journal.