How to Choose the Best Job Title for Your Open Role

A great job title grabs the attention of potential hires and clarifies the role to weed out unsuitable applicants, but picking the best job title for a particular position can be a challenge.


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What is a job title?

A job title is a short name for a specific position within your company. The goal of a job title is to describe in a few words what the position entails in terms of responsibilities or expectations. Job titles can also indicate where a particular position fits into the overall work hierarchy. C-level job titles, such as CEO and CFO, indicate that the individual is part of senior management, while titles with words such as assistant or junior might indicate that the job is an entry-level position.


The importance of a job title

The job title is the first thing potential employees see when they are hunting for work. The job title can also help job applicants decide whether your company is a good fit for them, particularly if you choose a creative title that showcases your overall brand personality.


Job titles have importance within the workplace as well as during the job search. They can help others within your organization understand a particular employee’s role, and a change in title can indicate when an employee has taken on more responsibility. Outside contacts, such as vendors and clients, use job titles to determine who they need to talk to when they have specific questions or needs.


Guidelines for developing the best job title for a role

There are some basic guidelines for developing job titles that help you find the right employees for open positions. Here are eight rules for writing a job title:


1. Keep the focus on what the job entails

Make it clear from the title what the specific job requires. You should develop your job description before your title so you know exactly what to include or exclude.


2. Avoid abbreviations and industry jargon

Because not every job seeker uses the same abbreviations or knows specific industry terms, it’s best to avoid these in job titles unless they are extremely well known. Commonly used acronyms, such as RN, HR or VP, are fine to use because the vast majority of job seekers already know what they mean.


3. Include common job keywords

Job seekers who are searching for positions that fit their qualifications typically use specific keywords associated with the role they hope to get. Words such as editor, analyst, manager and assistant ensure that your particular listing appears when job seekers look for those words.


4. Include the level of seniority required

Words such as senior, junior, and assistant help target your job ad so people who are not qualified, or who are overqualified, don’t waste their or your time.


5. Be wary about informal wording

Casual, cute or creative wording in a job title can bring out your brand personality but they wreak havoc when it comes to fitting your job description into a search engine. A job title that seeks a marketing guru or IT rock star might seem to present a fun vibe, but it also keeps your listing hidden when people search for marketing consultant or IT analyst positions. If the ideal job candidate never sees your job placement ad, you may miss out on finding the perfect hire.


6. Leave out unnecessary information

Job titles have two main functions: to appear in job searches and to attract high-quality applicants. Extraneous details such as numerical job codes, salary information and location can be conveyed in other parts of your job ad instead of in the job title.


7. Choose the right length

Job titles that are too long or too short can suffer in searches and reduce the chances of a candidate clicking to see the full job posting. Try to keep within a range of 50 to 60 characters, and avoid going over 80 characters if at all possible.


8. Avoid outdated terms or titles with inherent presumptions

Many common job titles have changed over the years to reflect changing societal attitudes. As an example, the job title of clerk has been replaced by office assistant or clerical associate. Modern job titles also tend to avoid gendered terms, such as using server instead of waitress and camera operator instead of cameraman.


Effective and creative job titles

Getting creative with job titles is a tactic used by some companies to recruit talent and attract candidates with innovative ideas and exciting personalities. There’s a balance to walk between creativity and effectiveness though. Some things to consider when developing creative job titles include:


Match the job title to the type of work

Creative fields and positions offer more opportunities for creative job titles than some traditionally formal positions. You can probably get away with a listing for a Marketing Cheerleader or a Digital Design Diva because those jobs involve a lot of creativity and flair. Someone in search of a senior management position in a more formal workplace might not click on a job for a Mischief Manager.


Create job titles unique to your company

Some companies have developed creative job titles specific to their company. For example, Starbucks has baristas instead of food service associates, Disney has cast members throughout their parks instead of staff, and Apple hires geniuses instead of service technicians. This type of creative job titling works best when you have multiple people who fulfill a similar role, so the name becomes well-known in your industry.


Make sure your job title isn’t meaningless

The best job titles capture attention and also make the employee’s role crystal clear. The Starbucks version of a person who makes coffee, barista, is an actual Italian word for bartender, so there is a relevant meaning behind the title. Titles that don’t have an association with the actual job or that add confusion to the job description tend to drive potential hires away. A title such as Innovation Sherpa or Field Nourishment Consultant indicates little about what the job entails and leads the mind off on tangents that might give an inaccurate impression about job duties or responsibilities.

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