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Does Your Title Reflect Your True Value?

Is your title broad enough? Is it specific enough? Is it strategic enough? Does anyone even know what it means?

The idea of whether or not “meeting planner” covers the actual scope of what those who make meetings, conventions, trade shows, incentives, etc., etc., happen always makes for lively conversation, as a recent article reminded me. Is your title broad enough? Is it specific enough? Is it strategic enough? Does anyone even know what it means?

Titles can be so deceptive. They can remain unchanged for years as your actual job undergoes a huge scope creep. Conversely, it’s not unheard of for bosses to give title upgrades in lieu of salary increasecs, even when the job itself hasn’t changed. 

I early on learned that a title is as a title does when the bosses of the small mom-and-pop publisher I cut my journalistic teeth on decided that their mastheads looked too skimpy with just their few human employees listed. So they put their horses and their dog on as well—with titles well above my lowly entry-level title (yes, the owners were, hmm, let’s say quirky). Ouch, yes, but it didn’t stop me from learning, learning, learning, as I typed manuscripts into a computer on a card table set up in the hallway and squeezed every possible drop out of any opportunity that came my way.

Within a year I had made myself the go-to person for researching, developing, launching, and overseeing new magazines—while Associate Publisher Posie and Editorial Director Penny still mainly hung around chewing hay and Milk Bones, respectively. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent animals, who I’m sure couldn’t have cared less. Neither did I once I realized title≠responsibilities≠potential opportunity, though shortly before that publisher closed up shop, I did get a title more reflective of what I actually did.).

Still, a rose by any other name may not actually smell that sweet, especially when you try to change jobs and explain that your actual experience is several rungs up the ladder from what your title may suggest. And nowadays, with so little uniformity across industries on what a particular position entails or is called, how much stock can anyone really put in a title? I mean, my title now is content director—I don’t even know what exactly that means to me, much less anyone else. So I rely on the old adage in my business that says, show, don’t tell—I try to show who I am and what I bring to the table through the work I do, and hope it tells my story. 

As Velvet Chainsaw Consulting’s Dave Lutz, says in that M&C article, “Title alone will not change how people view you. The ideas that you bring to the table and your actions will.” 

I second that emotion!

How much do you rely on job titles to give you a short-cut vision into a person’s role and responsibilities? If you could choose a title you think really reflects what you do, what would it be?

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