(Originally posted on BrightRock Change Exchange)
A few years ago, I’d recently changed jobs. I loved my new job. But the job title? Not so much. Here’s what I thought at the time of writing this for BrightRock, in 2015:
I am as happy as a bunny in carrot factory. I use my innate skills to talk to people, solve problems, track data and follow trends. I stare at screens all day, watching conversations unfold. If ever there was a dream job designed just for me, this is it.
Except for the job title: Central Resolutions Specialist.
Because the scope of what I do covers a broad range of platforms, my job title sounds way out there. Very guru-like, or rock star-ish, even. Cringe. The role may be focussed, but the job title isn’t.
This got me worrying. What if I move to another company? Will they take a look at my previous job title as a national manager, and compare it to a title that could mean anything, and think I was demoted?. It bugged me so much, I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile yet.
But I’ve spent years chasing the title rather than the job. More than once, I found myself managing people who do the job I want to do, rather than doing the job itself.
It’s perfectly reasonable to be aspirational. Titles command respect, advancement and money. Nothing says you’re big cheese quite like the title of Chief Executive Tuber Incinerator. Truth is, you’re just the senior chip fryer, lording it over the junior potato peeler. And lofty titles often result in unattractive swagger. Nobody respects the Ivory Tower Syndrome. It leaves your ‘respectable title’ looking shallow and empty.
When I decided to quit my old team, I sat myself down and said, “Self, are you all about the job title…or are you all about the job?” My inner poseur yelled out “The title! Take the title!” because – let’s be honest– my inner poseur is exceptionally shallow. But I ignored it, and chose the job over the title.
I needed a change. Workload and burnout were killing me and I was not doing what I loved.
So, I gave up the lofty title and the impression of an elevated position, in exchange for a job that gives me satisfaction, that I enjoy doing and am really good at. Just watch our Twitter feed. People love me. And they should – because I love the hurly-burly, crazy, chaotic energy of social media and engaging our clients, solving their problems, sharing a laugh. It shows in how I do my job.
It has been a month, and what I’ve learned is this: job titles are meaningless. It’s your reputation that opens doors. And if you’re not doing what you love – what you’re really good at – earning yourself that reputation is all but impossible.
I’m dismissing job titles as a ‘thing’. Doing a job I love and doing it well brings me more opportunities than a title ever could. Now, about that LinkedIn page…
© Dave Luis for BrightRock.