How Important Is Your Job Title?

What’s more important: Your job title or your scope of responsibility?

As people, especially women, move up their career ladder, is it more important to land a job with a privileged title or a larger scope of responsibility?  As a young woman of color in Corporate America, I would have to go with the latter.  Throughout my career, I have always focused on what experience I can get out of my positions.

My first position was in a leadership development program with a large defense contractor.  This was the perfect position to jump-start my career because it allowed me to rotate through several core areas within my discipline.  I had the title “leadership development participant” for two years.  During my time in the program, it allowed me not to worry about my job title but solely on the experience I would gain from each position.  This was important because emerging from the program, no one was concerned with my title but instead the experience I received.

This became a challenge because I found myself being thrown into departments that were not considered core areas within my discipline.  When I looked at my fellow leadership development participants it was grossly evident that the white men got the most sought after rotations. Next came men of color and white women, and last came women of color (specifically black women).  I fought for each of my rotations and was lucky enough to have mentors that supported my development and growth.  By fighting for experience rather than a job title, I had the opportunity to gain an unimaginable amount of experience and knowledge in a short period of time.

I have always been more focused on finding a job with growing responsibility versus a “sweet” title.  It has worked for me so far.  I have never had a manager title but I have had the responsibility of managing people both directly and indirectly.  I am able to market myself as an influential leader, a leader that not only leads by positional power but also by influence.  My job title didn’t provide me that ability, I obtained it because I found jobs that gave me those opportunities.

What are your thoughts?

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6 Responses to How Important Is Your Job Title?

  1. Michelle says:

    Interesting point. It seems like experience is the more long-term investment. I know that women ask for raises less than men and get paid less across the board. What are your thoughts on salary? Do you think that it matters less than experience at first too? Is there a point at which it matters more?

    • Blog Author says:

      I actually do think if you have a clear goal, many times experience is more important then salary. When I started working out of undergrad, I had three job offers and took one of the lowest salary offers in an area that has the highest cost of living. Looking back it allowed me to get the experience to make more expedient moves to reach my ultimate goals which included a larger salary in a shorter period of time. However, I do feel there is a point where salary does matter – when you have the experience and skill to do a job you should certainly expect and demand to paid what you deserve.

  2. Venus says:

    I’d have to agree with you. I feel that a job that is flexible by way of experiences is very important especially when we’re first starting out. My first job was like that. I was surprised by the number of people who weren’t willing to tackle tasks that weren’t listed on their job descriptions. When in fact it was just that type of unlisted task (that I took the time to master) that landed me a more lucrative job. But I will admit – now that my children are older and demand more of my attention as well as the fact that I am in school, I am happy to have a position that sits on a sort of plateau. It does not require me to learn to adapt to new job experiences leaving my mind to concentrate on other things.
    Great Blog. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  3. Nkechi says:

    It depends. At my first serious job, my title was lackluster but my boss was good enough to give me the freedom to pursue my interests and to learn different skill sets.

    I must say though that having the “nice title” does help when looking for a new job and getting your foot in the door. On the flip side, your story (the experiences that shape who you are), if marketed well, can also help get you the job.

    • Blog Author says:

      I totally agree Nkechi. It’s all about how you market yourself which is touched on in more depth in my most recent post. Very interested to hear your feedback!

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