Potato Cakes & Job Titles

Oh how the humble “sliced thick chunk of potato deep fried in batter” divides our great nation  !

The 2015 Linguistics Roadshow & Survey (www.lingroadshow.com) has documented the deep divides within Australia’s “variant vocabulary” across many of our most ubiquitous words. Dependent on what State you live, the battered slice of spud is known as a Potato Cake, Potato Scallop, Hash Brown, Scallop, Potato Fritter or Fritter.

But however you peel the spud, it is STILL the same damn yummy fast food indulgence (all the better with a dollop or two of tomato sauce I might add et al ketchup!)    

I can still remember how incredulous I was when I first visited a fish and chip shop in Brisbane.  To my horror, what I found inside the neatly folded white butchers paper were 6 fish scallops instead of 6 potato cakes!   I recall the shops  owner had a very thick European accent which amplified the linguistic mishap. 

In the territory of “Job Titles” linguistic confusion further manifests.   After reading more CV’s than I could count  and coaching and interviewing 1000’s of people, I have seen absurd levels of inaccuracies across Job Titles.  And it’s only after deep probing  does the reality of   “Job Titles” vs “Job Responsibilities”  come to light. 

Job Titles are   often connected with individuals &/or companies “self esteem”.   The title “Director” sounds more revered than “Manager”,  “Executive” more prestigious than “Coordinator”,  “Front Office Manager” far more important than “Receptionist”.   And  handing out a crisp business card with a dazzling title makes us all puff our chest out that  little bit more. 

Some brave companies and individuals have moved away from the “Who” to the “What” in their titles and cards -great!   For example: Creative Dreamweaver (a copywriter in an advertising agency)  Chief IT Guru (IT programmer), Fashion Queen (owner of a boutique).  You will see many wonderful examples on LinkedIn where Job Titles are moving into the “What someone solves / achieves”  vs   inane old fashioned titles. 

But in the reality of changing jobs and looking to step up in your career, Job Titles can and will bite you in the “proverbial rear end”  IF  you don’t take time to flesh the responsibilities of a role accurately.   I spend a lot of my coaching and  CV preparation time in  deeply understanding  “exactly” what clients do in their day to day jobs!     And frankly in over 50% of cases, there is a sizeable disconnect between their  “tasks and  title” (notwithstanding the chasms between what certain industries, states and companies will apportion to different roles) 

The inaccuracy of a Job Title can create a whole range of problems when hiring new staff or applying for a new role.   Unless a diagnostic approach is applied to align and re-brand titles & tasks in an authentic and direct manner everyone can lose out.    Let me illustrate : 

  • Recruiters, HR and Hiring Managers may overlook great candidates because their “current title” doesn't  match the  “title” they are recruiting for.  And if HR,  the company or recruiter   don't have the prior experience or knowledge of the actual tasks vs variant titles, a CV will be in the THB (too hard basket). 
  •  Candidates don’t apply for roles they are qualified for because they misunderstand the connection between the “actual role” vs the “title”. Unless a job advertisement &/or PD is written in a direct and authentic manner the candidate will feel they “don’t match” so they don’t apply.       But so often the tasks and responsibilities are  exactly the same despite different  Job Titles.          
  •  It must be mentioned that statistically men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.   I have worked with so many brilliant and talented women who comment “they just do what they do” without cognition of the magnitude of  their skills. And its only after rigorous analysis of those tasks that they  develop confidence in their “transferrable skills” when applying for new roles.
  •  Expectations vs Reality –time wastage for candidates  and hiring companies if Job Titles do not accurately reflect the “actual role and tasks.   Eg: Sales managers who have managed teams applying for “Manager” roles  only to find out it's only a “senior sales reps” role – no staff management at all.  Everyone has wasted time and the company brand /trust tarnished. 
  • Candidates whose ego is, well a little inflated, don’t do themselves any favors by embellishing their titles.  I have seem many a sales rep use the “Manager” title on their CV, get an interview but not the job because of the initial perception vs reality of skillsets.   Let’s be clear – “Manager” is one of the most over-used words in Job Titles  as its implications are so fickle.

Tips for Getting Job Titles Aligned ! 

  1. “Questions are the Answers”   Ask the deeper questions, clarify and re-clarify to ensure everyone is on the same page with what a jobs responsibilities and day to day functions really are.  Eg:  some event companies use the title “Producer”, others “Project Manager” – and government departments often use "Event Coordinator".   ASK !!!! 
  2. Stop the BULL...  Call a Job Title for what it is and don’t waste others time. 
  3. Research the type of role and tasks across other industries, companies, states to get alignment. Remember a UK/USA  based company will often place HR adverts using UK/USA phrases and titles which may be very different in Australia. 
  4. Don’t be afraid to apply for roles whose exact title doesn't match the one you have now.  Make a phone call to check if everyone is on the same page. 
  5. Note to hiring companies and recruiters - Please immediately develop a  culture of welcoming "initial  enquiries"- it's worth it!  
  6. Invest in an experienced CV writing and career coaching service. A skillful coach will quickly help navigate and align your skills  to the right roles.

Ok, I’m off to the local fish & chip shop for a slice of battered spud !