At my very first big HR Conference, my job title was Director of Marketing for a blog about recruiting. After I introduced myself to people on the showroom floor, I watched it register, and a look of boredom come across their faces. I can imagine what they thought next:
“You’re not important to me.”
I confirmed the distinct meaning of those looks a few hours later. As the hand-shaking happy hour introductions began, the same people had entirely different expressions when my CEO made an introduction. I watched them nod with delight, their eyes glowing with decision-maker access. The job title was a status symbol.
I had seen it before. I started fighting my way to new job titles, and their accompanying self-validation, long before this event. Then I had a reality check.
Job Titles Are Completely Made Up.
See, I started this company called Three Ears Media. I picked the company name. I chose a website template. A logo. Business cards. As I was buying the business cards for this shiny new company, it hit me.
I can call myself whatever the hell I want.
Ninja Butt Scratcher. Seriously.
Whatever. The. Hell. I. Want.
While job titles are necessary for attracting qualified candidate traffic, they don’t have the value that our society tends to put on them.
The lesson here? Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself to get some made-up title. I spent a lot of my life chasing job titles and feeling frustrated every time I didn’t get a promotion. I used those feelings and missed opportunities to tell myself I wasn’t good enough, and I hope you don’t.
The way people look at you when you tell them where you work or your job title doesn’t convey your worth — not even one little bit.
Public Service Announcement: Making up job titles hurts your chances of hiring the right person or keeping them. It’s so important that I teach people how to research job titles, but that’s not where I was going with this post.