The job title on a job posting influences how people find your job posting and the kinds of people who apply to your job posting. It also frames the compensation negotiation. When choosing a job title to bring to market, you are framing your demand for a specific type of talent.
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According to MightyRecruiter's Developing a Winning Job Description eBook:
"A job title is your chance to convince people to open the job description and read more. If you write a confusing or inaccurate job title, then you lose the opportunity to engage with the job seeker and they proceed to the next job posting."
The challenge for hiring leaders becomes how to be transparent about the what the job itself is while leveraging marketing language that attracts higher-quality talent. Here are the pros and cons when walking this fine line between directness and selling:
Job Title Discovery Considerations
The title of the job posting is the H1 of the page – i.e., the most important part of the page's heading. That means it is the primary determinant for how the page is indexed and found on Google. This effect carries over into every job board, job site, and talent community. Job title choice is the top determinant over what job opportunities are next to yours. For example, if you choose "senior marketing manager" versus just "marketing manager," your choice will directly impact the experience level of the people who view and apply to the job posting. Also, don't forget to consider industry standards and norms when it comes to the usage or avoidance of abbreviations in job titles.
Should You Oversell the Job Title?
If you use a loftier title than what the job really is, the quality of the applicants will go up, but so will the expected compensation. While you may want more experienced and qualified candidates, you need to understand what that means for the company's expenditures.
Additionally, if you interview a lot of overqualified candidates whom you can't afford, you are not only wasting these candidates' time, but you are also wasting the time/resources of your existing employees. You may even be creating a reputation as a misleading employer. Balance what the role is with what the role can become and consider the level of compensation you can afford before choosing your next job title. If you are willing to pay more for the right candidate, consider making the job title a little loftier.
Should You Undersell the Job Title?
If your job titles are more direct, your applicant volume may go down. For example, if you undersell your job titles, you may fail to attract the "marketing manager" who will only consider loftier titles like "senior marketing manager." And that can be okay. You don't need or want everyone to apply to your job.
Real-life job titles create real-life demand for the work. In carefully choosing the title of the job and posting the job to the right places, you can attract the right talent. Listing a direct job title is not underselling your job posting.
Should You Make Your Title Quirky?
If you heavily value your unique company culture, a job title with personality can help you weed out candidates who don't fit and attract candidates who more closely align with your company's personality. However, unless you have good reason for quirkiness in a job title, you should err on the side of directness.
Across the jobs you've posted, how have you seen candidates respond to lofty, quirky and direct job titles? It would be great to keep the conversation going in the comments below!
David Smooke is CEO and partner at the digital storytelling firm ArtMap Inc. and its media arm AMI Publications. You can read more of his recruitment content on 42Hire. Find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.