The non-sense of job titles

One of the first things I faced when reinstating my LinkedIn account was stumbling upon one of the first forms to fill out “What is you current job title”.

It got me thinking. While technically speaking I am freelancing, running own company from about 2014, what title should I choose?

CEO? I’m anything but corporate. Managing Director? Freelancer? Looking for opportunities? Employed by the industry?

My problem with job titles is following. In one of the recent gigs, I was given the title of CTO. However, the job was anything like that, it was firefighting, doing operations, on-duty, project management, client and ecosystem relationships, trying to juggle and keep things together. All the responsibility, but no competences.

In some other gig couple of decades ago, technically speaking I was a senior consultant in that organization’s ranks initially, though with both responsibility and competences to run the show, build things, take decisions and don’t get punished for making those decisions. For that role, the title could well have been the CEO.

From personal experience and observation, once I hired two different people for what was supposed to be the same role – same job description, same rank, same expectations, same goals. End result – two very excitingly different outcomes and future career paths. Every person takes his or her personality into the job, making the job adapted to his or her own style. That’s why hiring for personality and cultural fit is key, not for skills.

When job hunting, because all of the automated CV screening madness (Applicant Tracking System – ATS anyone?), people now seem to be advised to change their job titles in their CVs to increase the chance to pass through the ATS system for a recruiter to at least glance on that person’s CV. This makes the job title completely useless and obsolete.

Or even worse, it makes good candidates who could bring value to organizations to slip through the ATS black hole.

My view is we need to ditch job titles and abandon the Apply button in recruitment.