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 Go Beyond the Job Title!

By Joe Stein

Probably the quickest and easiest way to review positions is to scan the Job Titles of the openings that are available. The idea being that by simply reviewing the word verbiage used by the prospective employer in the Job Title, you will have enough of an understanding regarding the position. You can then make an instant decision regarding whether to submit an application for the position.

If only it was that easy! Unfortunately, for Job Seekers only reviewing the Job Title will often not provide an accurate description of the position and/or level, therefore making it very risky to make a decision on. Depending on the situation and the company, the Job Title may be artificially inflated (on the rare occasion it may actually be deflated), vague, or unclear. So, a Job Seeker must do more than just read the title in order to draw a conclusion regarding the position. So, what should a Job Seeker do? Below are some simple suggestions on how to quickly and easily go beyond the Job Title to find out more.

• Read the Posting for Keywords: While this may seem obvious, I suspect many Job Seekers who are applying for a job do so without reading (they probably are just scanning) the actual posting that has been published. The posting is loaded with clues regarding the level of the position and the general duties of the role. In particular, certain key words will speak volumes to you regarding the position. For example, a job posting that stresses words such as “processes” and “administers” is probably a more administrative or clerical hourly paid position. If you read words such as “lead” or “directs”, then you can probably conclude it is a leadership role, even if the actual title does not reflect this responsibility.

• Compare with Your Current Role: Review the posting (or the actual Job Description if provided) and compare it with your current role. Does it match up well with what you currently do (or have done before in your career)? If so, you are most likely qualified for the role and the position is probably at your current level. If the posting has some of what you currently do, but also has other activities (in particular, those that your Manager does), then you can probably safely conclude you have a promotional opportunity.

• Network with Those Who Know: Reach out to individuals who are familiar with the structure of this prospective employer. These individuals can provide you with an idea regarding how the company actually slots positions and how the position actually compares to your current role.

• Don’t Hesitate to Ask: If you decided to apply for the position, then you can always find out more during the phone screen. Focus on asking questions regarding the position and job duties in order to determine if this position is still of interest to you. Make sure that when you leave the conversation, you understand the typical responsibilities of the role along with any potential projects.

• Is there New Jargon? If you have not been in the job search market for a number of years, you may find that some key terms or titles have changed since your last time. For example, in the world of Human Resources, the title of HR Business Partner has become a popular term and is sometimes used as a replacement for the HR Manager title. It is important that before you enter your job search, you familiarize with any new terminology that pertains to your field of employment. In your Job Search, taking the easy route is usually not the best option. You may think a simple glance at a Job Title will tell you everything you need to know regarding whether to apply for a position. In reality, a Job Title will often provide a false read regarding a position, but there are other ways to find out more. A savvy Job Seeker will spend the extra effort and time to go beyond the Job Title in order to decide whether to pursue the position. If you are not sure, then error on the side of seeking the position until you find out more information, and then decide whether it is a good fit for you.

As always, best of luck in your job search.