When your job title is too generic

Following a recent promotion (whoop!), I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to update my LinkedIn and Twitter bios to reflect my fancy new title of HR Policy Lead. But is this what I want to be known as, or is there a better way to label myself as a professional that goes beyond my job title in my one, existing role?

For instance, I’ve written about job titles before and sometimes these don’t reflect what you do in your role, nor who you are as a professional. I’ve heard plenty of people say to me that they have such a generic job title that does absolutely no justice to what they do. ‘Team Member’, ‘Manager’, or ‘Customer Officer’…these provide very little clarity of the individual’s abilities, duties, specialism(s) or profession as a whole.

You may have a generic title, but you’re free to label yourself in a way that’s much more reflective of your profession. For example, the job title you give yourself on your CV doesn’t necessarily need to match the title your employer has given, providing:

  • The title the employer has given you is far too generic that you are helping the reader to better understand your role
  • The title you give yourself is not false, inaccurate or deceiving
  • You reference your given title somewhere else in your CV (e.g. “As Team Member, I do X, Y and Z” after you’ve labelled yourself in the heading as Complaints and Governance specialist). This ensures that when references are sought after you’ve been offered a new job, you’ve not shied away from your contractual title.

Apply this approach to your online bios too; let people know exactly who you are as a professional, something that one job title might fail to achieve. You may also find that this helps clarify onlookers what your intentions are for the future if you’ve hopped from one field to another. There may have been a key theme – your specialism – that ran through a string of seemingly unrelated roles that you can justify with your chosen title.

Embrace the fad of personal branding – whether you’re for or against it, it can used to your advantage by advertising yourself in the way that you want to be seen. You’re titling yourself as a professional rather than the title of your existing role.

So rather than change my bios to say I am an HR Policy Lead (my given title to my new role), I might just stick with HR policy specialist – it reflects what I do, what I’ve done, my abilities and my specialism. It links to my existing and previous (relevant) roles, as well as giving an indication of any future roles.

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