Why it’s important to make sure a job title matches the actual job

Battered spuds, swimwear and job titles have much in common believe it or not. In this article I explore why it’s important to make sure a job title matches the actual job title.   Understanding why and how to not assume anything will save time and headaches.  

We all know that to assume is to ‘make an ass out of you and me’.  Assumptions are not clever and bite us in the behind. So to kick start. let me share one of my own assuming mishaps.


Many decades back when I was relocated to Brisbane I was salivating for one of my favourite comfort foods within a few days of arriving.  

Thick battered potato slices deep fried to golden crispy delight were a favourite to soothe and enjoy. Coming from Victoria they were known as potato cakes. So in I trot to a fish and chip shop in South Brisbane to order potato cakes and a piece of fish. 

Well strike me down as I was mortified when I opened the white butcher’s paper to find a small piece of fish and four tiny bloody sea scallops.  WTF as I marched back in to the shop confused.  The poor European bloke behind the hot humid counter had poor English and here I was upset as I expected a Melbourne cake Duh!

It was also during the start of summer and I found it perplexing to receive strange looks at the pool and beach when I asked where I could change into my bathers.  

I had no idea what people meant by getting into their ‘togs’. Were they referring to some form of water emergency raft or strange swimming ritual? Weird people I thought.


The 2015 Linguistics Roadshow & Survey documented the wide differences within Australia’s variant vocabulary across many of our most ubiquitous and mis-aligned words

Here the spud and swimwear divide is shown in all its glory  :



But however you peel and fry the beloved spud slices, they are still the same thing. A yummy fast food indulgence all the better with a dollop or two of tomato sauce ketchup!   


So what does this all have to do with job titles? Well quite a lot as there can be wide differences in actual job titles and work responsibilities. The same job with a myriad of different titles.

One example is in the event industry.  Private companies with the exact same responsibilities for a role use the title Producer, others Project Manager. And the public sector may use Event Coordinator.  All have different assumptions of seniority, activity and salary levels.

I have coached many public sector clients applying to roles in the private sector (and vice versa). One assumed that a title of manager in the private sector had automatic staff responsibilities in the public.  It didn’t for the department involved based on bands and national differences. This was also reflected in salary ranges.

Often titles are given to inflate self esteem and ego.  And quite often a company will give creative licence to an employee to name their own job title. This happens more in small to medium sized businesses.

The title Director sounds more revered than Manager; Executive more prestigious than Co-ordinator; Front Office Manager far more important than Receptionist and Supervisor higher than Clerk. I could go on but you get the drift.

And the reverse can occur which downgrades the roles standing importance. For example a Manager may be titled Co-ordinator; a Procurement Director a Purchasing Supervisor.

And handing out a crisp business card with a dazzling title makes us all puff our chest out that little bit more.  And yes business cards are still valuable (that is another whole other article)

I have spent hundreds of hours aligning CV’s to roles and applications to understand exactly the role and tasks. From my observations, I guestimate in 40% of cases there was a disconnect between tasks and title (notwithstanding the differences between industries, locations and individual organisations).

The inaccuracy of titles against responsibilities and activities create a whole range of problems when hiring new staff or applying for a new job – for both sides. 


🔺 Recruiters, HR and hiring managers may overlook great candidates because their current title doesn’t match the title” they are recruiting for. This can bite when ATS (applicant tracking software) is used.  If they don’t have prior knowledge of variables across sectors they can wrongly assume incompatibility. 

🔺 Candidates don’t apply for roles they are qualified for because they assume the title is incompatible to their experience. The over and misuse of ‘manager’ is a whole article in itself.

🔺 Unless a job advertisement &/or position description are written with crystal clarity candidates can assume they don’t match, so frequently they don’t apply

🔺  Uneven gender applications. It’s shown statistically that men will apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications advertised. Yet women will apply generally if they meet 100% of what is advertised.   Women must be mindful to ask for clarifying information before they decide not to apply for a role.

🔺 Expectations vs Reality. So much time is wasted for both candidates and hiring companies if job titles do not reflect the salary expectations.  Again this is why it is critical for the advertisement and position description to really lay out in black and white what is entailed.  

🔺 I recently heard from a person in my network who applied for a ‘sales managers’ role. At interview it was revealed it was in fact a senior sales representative role without staff management and a salary to reflect that. Everyone has wasted time and the company brand /trust tarnished. 

🔺 Candidates who inflate their title on the CV or LinkedIn don’t do themselves any favour. Embellishing a job title is a big no as it impacts personal brand trust. 

🔺  From my recruitment agency days when I would headhunt on LinkedIn. Some peoples search and job titles were totally misrepresented in reality of actual work. I recall Director was misused instead of Manager… a big difference.


Some of the following relate to candidates, some to hiring companies, and some to both:

1/ Questions are the Answers. This cannot be underestimated for all sides. Take a journalist approach, never assume and ask deeper questions. Even if it looks aligned, double check.

2/  Lose the spin– call a job title for what it is with clarity and honesty. No creative waffle.

3/  Research the type of role and tasks across other industries, companies, states to get alignment of titles and functions.

4/  Be very mindful of international based organisations use of terminology.  Their local titles and terminology can  be very different.  This is critical for both hiring managers and HR to flesh out and for candidates if they are applying for roles overseas.

5/  Don’t be afraid to apply for roles whose exact title doesn’t match the one you have now.  

6/  Make a phone call to check if everyone is on the same page. For senior roles over 150K a prior phone call should always be part of the job search strategy for context and clarity)

7/  Adjust your CV introduction headline (not title) to align to the role advertised. 

8/  Don’t use a fluffy titles. Lose the Sales Wizard, Dreamweaver IT Manager, Director Corporate Impressions etc. Save the fluff for other parts of the PD and interview if necessary.

So there you have it. Battered fried spud slices, swimwear and job titles. 

And if you are a Queenslander holidaying in Melbourne asking for your port, don’t be surprised to receive a glass of rich dark alcoholic liquid – not a piece of baggage.🍷


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For Sue Parkers job search and career services click here 


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