Job title decoder: have you been uptitled?

Posted August 22, 2013, by Julia Watters

If you’re on the job hunt, one thing you may have noticed is an abundance of high-falutin’ job titles. But what do they actually mean? How many times have you had to refer to the role description just to get an understanding of what it actually entails? And even then it can leave you scratching your head.

A friend of mine once had a job as the ‘Director of First Impressions’ at a radio station. She was the first to point out that she was, in fact, the receptionist.

It turns out there’s a word for this. It’s called ‘uptitling’, and our good friends at Collins define it as the ‘practice of conferring grandiose job titles to employees performing relatively menial jobs’.

For those of you still unsure of how uptitling works, here are a few I’ve come across:

  • Sandwich artist = Subway employee
  • Chief happiness officer = customer service assistant
  • Eviction technician = bouncer
  • Visual clearance engineer = window cleaner
  • Horticultural maintenance officer = gardener

And this is where it can get really tricky.

You could end up wasting your time applying and possibly even interviewing for a role which isn’t what you thought it was, all because of an inflated job title and misleading description.

Even if you know what you’re getting yourself into, an exaggerated job title can cause you grief down the track. Just as you can be confused by your title, so can future employers when they try to understand just what your previous role and experience were.

Businesses are continuously searching for the latest buzzword to use in their day-to-day practice. I used to have a boss who used the term ‘moving forward’ as frequently as he drew breath. But just because businesses have a tendency to overinflate what they do, that doesn’t mean you should too.

It may seem unfair but it’s never a good idea to overdo it on your CV … ever! You will eventually be exposed when they check your references or just realise that you’re not as experienced as you claimed to be. Either way, it’s not going to end well. There are plenty of other ways you can make your CV stand out without bending the truth.

So how do you avoid confusion in a job market filled with meaningless jargon?

The most important thing is to do your research. If you’re not clear about the job through the title and description provided, contact the recruiter. Most job ads will provide you with a contact email and number for those seeking more information, so use it.

And if the response is still confusing, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

So remember: if you see a job ad for an ‘H2O solidification expert’, you may just be selling ice to Eskimos. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Happy job hunting!

Julia Watters

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