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From the coalface: What's in a name?

By Greg Pankhurst

At Balance Recruitment, it never ceases to surprise us how much people read into job titles.

Candidates hear a position title and they will typically make several assumptions about the responsibilities, the reporting lines, the salary the role should pay and their suitability for the position.

Often those assumptions prove far off the mark for several reasons: different companies can use very different titles to describe the same role; and, conversely, two identical job titles can have entirely different sets of responsibilities, reporting lines and remuneration.

In some cases the job title doesn't accurately reflect the nature of the job — we see plenty of roles for "managers" that don't actually have a team to manage! Strange but true.

The scale of the environment is also a big variable that can significantly influence the nature of a position.

We've seen chief information officers with teams of two and others with 300 people, and while there will be some crossover in the responsibilities of both roles, it's fair to say the two positions are different beasts. Without understanding the scale of the environment, it's nearly impossible to understand the gravity of a given role.

So if you are discriminating on the basis of the job title, it's a safe bet that you are going to let some great opportunities slide by.

Instead, Balance Recruitment suggests that when looking for new roles, you assume nothing, look beyond the job title and take the time to drill down to discover its core elements. After all, that's what really matters.

Greg Pankhurst is a managing director at Balance Recruitment.

Published: 10 November 2012

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