What’s in a job title?

Having worked in recruitment for the past 2 decades, agency side for 10 years and the last 10 years in-house, I have come across some seriously bizarre job titles. There is no standard across industries but the norm seems you either go with the American VP, AVP title regime or the more European / Global titles of Director, Associate Director etc.

Some do digress from this, particularly in the start-up world, and I will revert to Troy Hammond to correct me if I’m wrong but these are a few I’ve seen out there:

  • Chief Happiness Officer
  • Chief Trouble Maker
  • Genius (at Apple)
  • Imagineer (Disney Engineers)

My favourite, however, is Mighty Eagle which Rovia, who make Angry Birds, call their CEO Peter Vesterbacka. I love seeing diverse titles out there, not that it makes it any easier for those sourcers / recruiters diving deep into their Boolean / X-Ray searches, but it does differentiate a company.

So what is in a title?  Awesome job titles seem to draw top talent or at least pique the interest of people when they see a different job title in a job ad or on social media but what about those lesser attractive jobs out there? It seems companies are turning to creating unique job titles to attract the talent they seek to connect and engage with.  There are those willing to push the boundaries but then there are those companies that tend to stick to the “normal” job titles.

So what does a job title mean to you? Does it make a massive difference if you get a new job with a decent pay increase yet the title, in your opinion doesn’t really reflect the actual role or what you feel you should be called? I’m interested to hear your thoughts as to some candidates the title makes the role.


Headhunter: “Errr, Ummm, let me check!”

Headhunting. A fine art some might say. At the “real” Executive end of the market the Researchers / Partners, or whoever gets to make “that call”, will be well versed at wooing the prospect or at least having being fully briefed on the role and client they are working for. Needless to say they would have done their deep dive into the prospects background.

I am always open to a headhunt call and pretty sure I am not alone here, after all who doesn’t like hearing those words “I have been given your name” although in this case it was more like “I found your LinkedIn profile”.

I should start at the beginning though as this was an experience worthy of sharing and maybe I should have titled it “5 tips on how NOT to Headhunt”! Surely that would get more visits to the blog but I felt a quote from said head-hunter summed it up pretty well.

So, my work phone rings and it is one of our awesome Contact Centre Representatives (CSR) on the line. The conversation then goes something like this:

CSR: Hi Mark, I have a friend of yours on the line, would you mind if I put them through.

Me: Sure.

CSR: Thanks so much, have a great day.

At this stage I must add that most of my mates have my mobile and / or direct work number so I was curious as to why “a friend” had called me via the contact centre.

Me: Good morning, Mark Sumner speaking

Head-hunter: Hi Mark, this is <let’s call them Jane> have you got a few minutes to talk.

Me: Sure I, I have about 10 minutes until my next meeting, will that suffice?

Note, no company name was provided.

Jane: I found your LinkedIn profile and thought you would be a good fit for the client I am recruiting for. I cannot divulge their name at this stage but they are looking for someone like you.

A fairly standard “recruitment sell”, Jane then went on to explain a little bit, and let me emphasise “little”, more about the role and the company without mentioning any names. Jane carried on some more about it being a great fit and opportunity and after around 5 minutes it was my turn to ask a few questions.

This is where the “5 tips on how NOT to head-hunt” come to the fore:

1. Research your potential targets

Get information from the people referring them or research them via Professional networks / Social Media and / Google them!. Take some time to understand what specific “market segment” this particular candidate is part of their niche skills and what they could bring to the role.

Jane had no real idea about my current role, make up of the team I currently work with or what I really did to match it with the role she was working on with the recruitment consultant. Maybe it was my strange title that threw her or maybe I need to pimp my LinkedIn profile a little?

2. Establish Initial Rapport

Open the call by saying who you are, where you’re from and what you do. When a candidate is not expecting a call from you it is important to spend at least the first couple of minutes with background or introductory information so they feel like this is a professional opportunity and one that they aren’t wasting their time with.

I had to ask Jane which company she was calling from – it was not the hiring company.

3. Know What Makes the Job Exceptional

You need to start with an attention grabber. What’s in it for them? Why is this opportunity different from other similar positions? What makes it more exciting than what they’re currently involved with?

Jane had no idea how many people where on the team, the reporting line, challenges to be faced or plans for the business in the next 12 months. In fact she said: “Errr, Ummm, let me check.” It turns out she was not the recruiter but merely the, and I quote: “executive search person head-hunting for the recruitment consultant managing this role”.

4. Stay Connected even with seemingly unsuitable Candidates

If you’ve realised mid-way through a call that the candidate that you are talking with is not qualified, continue the conversation as they may know someone else who may be interested and qualified. Turn that wasted phone call into a potential networking opportunity to seek out possible referrals.

There was a rather abrupt end to the conversation when Jane realised I was not interested in or suitable for the role.

5. Follow up

Gain “opt-in” from the candidate. Be proactive and request permission to e-mail or follow-up with a phone call even if the candidate is not interested, after all, they might be suitable for another role that comes across your desk.

Once again there was a rather abrupt end to the conversation.

I share this experience with the hope that you may never receive a similar phone call, or if you are the one making the call, that you do your homework and ensure the person on the other end has an awesome experience, even if they say “No”.