What’s in a name?

How important is your job title? Have you ever negotiated on a title before accepting a role?

Prince Harry has reportedly been appointed Chief Impact Officer of mental health services startup Better Up.  It’s not instantly obvious to me from the title what the role will entail – should that matter?

Here are three reasons why yes, it does matter;


You need clarity on what you’re accountable for.  Ambiguity leaves room for confusion, goals can get missed and that can reflect badly on your performance, as well as causing you unnecessary anxiety.  You also need to want to accept that accountability, to want to take ownership and be successful. If you can’t clearly articulate what you are expected to deliver, then how can you deliver it?  And if you can’t deliver it, you can’t be measured against it.  How will anyone know whether you’re doing a good job?

Colleague sentiment

If your new teammates scoff at your job title, it could generate ill-feeling.  You want to be instantly recognized as pulling your weight and making a difference, and not be viewed as getting an easy ride because of something other than your skillset and experience.  Remember when Tourism Queensland advertised for a $150,000 Island Caretaker?  I bet there were plenty of colleagues avoiding the lucky candidate at the Christmas party.

Future progression

Recruiters scan hundreds of CVs for every vacancy. If it’s not clear what you have been doing, you risk being chucked on the ‘no’ pile.  Your CV will not be read word for word, your previous job titles and company names should jump off the page and scream ‘relevant’.  It’s also one of the reasons why you have a much better chance of getting an interview if you’re represented by a recruiter – agents are better at reading between the lines and spotting talent that might have been overlooked. Even if your CV is strong and has lots of relevant experience listed, you’re still one in a big pile of candidates who meet the brief on paper.  A recruitment agent will take time to dig beneath the surface, get to know you, what makes you tick, whether you’ve really been successful and whether you’re a cultural fit for the company.  If you are, then they’ll sell you on behalf of your CV and if you’re not, it’ll save you a lot of time and heartache waiting and wondering why you haven’t had a response.

Can you negotiate a different title when you get a job offer?

While it’s important your job title is clear, many get too hung up on perception rather than a function of their role.  Tech firms in the US in particular have set a very consistent tone, with a standard set of job titles that are mirrored across the industry.  That puts everyone on an equal footing and sets a level of understanding, with little room for confusion.

Ultimately, if the company feels right, the package works for you and you believe you can do the job well, for most the job title will be quite far down the priority list.