How a job title doesn’t matter

Dear Evil HR Lady,

My dilemma is that I have been doing the work of an HR person for over 7 years, but the company I work for refuses to adjust my title to align more with my actual duties. So, I went back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management (graduated in 2009). Amazingly enough, the degree hasn’t helped my work situation. Right now, my own company, as well as others, don’t seem to be able to see past my “administrative assistant” job title despite all of my experience. I’ve actually been told by more than one recruiter that all of my experience is “unofficial” because of my current job title and therefore cannot be considered. This has been frustrating to say the least. I am sick of doing the work of an HR rep, but getting paid as a secretary. Any advice for breaking out of the Administrative Assistant black hole?

To read the answer, click here: How a job title doesn’t matter

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5 thoughts on “How a job title doesn’t matter

  1. I’m dealing with something similar right now in my current job. I am being offered a promotion and, like Evil HR Lady’s husband, it is a position that needs a job title that reflects some authority so the high-level professionals with whom I need to engage will actually talk to me. For example, an exec at a large, Silicon Valley corporation (who needed the services of my company) refused to speak to me, even though I am the designated person to handle her issue; she wanted to keep things “high-level” and would let me know if she wanted me involved. I was able to get her to play ball with me, but as I’m promoted into this new role, I anticipate running into this kind of thing more often.

    My issue is that the president of my company is on board with a new title of “director,” but then said she would need to get permission from the HR department since they only approved a title of “manager.” And since they (HR) have a specific set of criteria for who can be called “director,” she would need to ask them if it’s okay. Is that just an arbitrary internal HR policy? My thought is that the president of the company (who I report to) has the authority to assign job titles as she sees fit. Is this normal? Weird? It’s worth mentioning that the president of the company lets the HR department make a lot of decisions that she probably has the authority to make.

    I often fantasize about sending our HR department links to Evil HR Lady articles… 🙂

    1. The stupid goes very deep into culture, doesn’t it? And feel free to forward EHRL columns to your HR department. Doesn’t bother me one bit. 🙂

  2. I started at a company as a technical writer (contract). Then I was doing wiki support. More wiki support. Only wiki support. But my manager and HR kept saying “your title doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do”.

    Until I got a new manager who wanted to know why I wasn’t writing. Even though there was no writing to be done. My title was (still) “technical writer” and I was supposed to dig up some writing to do.

    Then I got another manager and we worked to change my job title. But we could only use one on the official list. Eventually we settled on “web developer”. Pretty close.

    Then there was a department reorg, my manager left, and I got another manager who said “Your job title is ‘web developer’ and that’s not what you’re doing. You’re doing wiki support. Start doing back end development or leave”.

    Yeah. Job titles matter. 🙁

  3. Yup they totally matter. Especially in larger companies. The meetings you are allowed to attend, the raise you are allowed to be given, the size of your bonus etc. is all tied into some computer program based off of your title. Because your company probably has way too little staff to keep track of who you are, so you need a title that is available on their pull-down menu so all the other automatic fields populate and tell them what to do. True story.

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