Why rock star job titles don’t work in recruitment

  27th February 2019       Private: Bond Williams
 Recruitment, Client

Let’s start with a quiz. Can you identify these conventional roles from their modern, reinvented job descriptions: wet leisure assistant, waste management and disposal technician, and paranoid in chief?

A gold star if you recognised the wackier titles for a lifeguard, a bin man and an information security officer. We often equate creative descriptions with more creative industries but the position of Accounting Ninja has been advertised and even the recruitment industry itself isn’t immune – talent delivery specialist anyone?

While it may be tempting to dream up a leftfield title for a traditional role – perhaps in the hope it will make something mundane sound more interesting or to attract vibrant talent – it may prove to be a ‘shoot yourself in the foot’ recruitment strategy.

Keep it relevant

Playing it straight will always attract the most relevant candidates, yet the BBC estimates more than 100,000 businesses in the UK are using job titles that fail to say what an applicant is supposed to be doing. A further study by Digital Media Stream also discovered the majority of British adults were unable to tell whether a job title was real or made up – a fact that may lead candidates to question whether the job advertised actually exists.

A job title should describe the role you’re recruiting for, ideally in two or three words. It is expected that the department or sector the job is in and the seniority of the role is included in the title – Sales Manager or Senior Java Developer, for example. Anything ambiguous will either invite a flurry of unsuitable CVs or deter people from applying altogether.

In addition, advertising a creatively-described job will immediately put you on the back foot when it comes to prospective applicants searching online. While you may commend yourself for jazzing up your Finance Director position by renaming it Chief Figures Guru, it’s not a job title people will ever enter in to the Google search bar.

Keywords are key

Likewise, candidates using job sites are invited to search by title and these are still along standard lines. Think about the key words job seekers and recruitment specialists use and make sure the job title in your advert reflects this, no matter how creative you may be feeling.

Don’t forget, your choice of job title can also alter a person’s perception of your business. Occupational psychology expert, Professor Sir Cary Cooper, says: “We’re now into the era of esoteric job titles designed to reflect as much about the company, its ‘culture’ and values as they are about the post holder,”. If candidates apply expecting beanbags and beer pong but you can only deliver the bog-standard basics, your recruitment drive could be unfulfilling. There’s also the risk that flowery job titles put off serious contenders, especially if they feel they’re not the right cultural fit for your workplace.

If your heart is set on appointing a Galactic Viceroy of HR, you can always take a leaf out of Google’s book by advertising using traditional job titles then bestowing something a little crazier once candidates have started.

Private: Bond Williams


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