Get That Title: The Difference Between Title and Opportunity

When I reach out to a potential candidate in my network about a new opportunity, one of the first questions that they have regarding the position is the job title. That makes sense. You want to know what the job is, right? The title should give you a description of the position somewhat immediately. However I find that it isn’t always the DESCRIPTION a candidate wants, it’s the STATUS that they are after. Words like “Director”, “VP” or even “Manager” peak immediate interest and usually lead to the next question, what’s the hiring manager’s title? Sometimes a conversation will start or end regarding title, without even discussing the actual position in detail and other aspects of the role.

So let’s look at what a job title actually is. Job title definition: “A job title can describe the responsibilities of the position, the level of the job, or both”. From that definition it is easy to see how people can perceive their title as either a status statement or a job definition. Like most ambiguous terms, it depends on the reader – “the eyes of the beholder”. Some of my candidates won’t even hear me out unless there is a Director of VP in the title of the job description. Can fixations on status or your position on a company’s organization chart limit next steps in your career? In my experience, YES! When you are making a job change you have to first define what your next position looks like. Are you looking for management opportunity? Do you want to increase your account management skills? If you are in a technical role, do you crave that next level in your career education? Is your motivation purely monetary?

Now let’s look at the definition for opportunity, “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something”. Your new position that may not have the exact title you were looking for may have all of the criteria you need to move you forward in your career path. This opportunity could potentially be your dream job or it could open the door you need to get there.  At the end of the work week you need to feel satisfied with all aspects of your position, and all that you are able to achieve.

Don’t pass up an opportunity that can potentially open doors to that next step in your professional career just for a name on a business card. Be open to finding out all that the job has to offer you before you write it off. You could be giving up a great job for a mediocre one if you are too focused on title only.