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Inflated Job Titles

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Posted by: David Garcia October 13, 2023

The landscape of the job market is constantly shifting. Today’s workplace looks very different from five or ten years ago. New technology, new ideas, and a new generation of employees have transformed offices. 

The idea of company loyalty is not as pervasive among today’s workforce as it has been in the past. Many people prefer to stay at a company for a couple of years before hopping to another one – often gaining significant pay increases as they do. In response, many companies use inflated job titles to attract good talent.

What Are Inflated Job Titles?

Companies are looking for better ways to retain employees in today’s tight job market. Many companies are offering inflated job titles to boost morale among current employees – and possibly attract new talent. 

Inflated job titles often make a job sound more exciting, glamorous, or important than it is. They may contain exciting words like “engineer,” “director,” or even “wizard,” but tend to be vague about the actual responsibilities of the role. However, when done correctly, inflating job titles has some positive impacts. 

Here are some common examples of inflated job titles to avoid:

  • Sandwich Artist (Subway Employee)
  • Tech Ninja (IT Support Technician)
  • Underwater Ceramic Technician (Dishwasher)
  • Director of First Impressions (Receptionist)
  • Refreshments and Nutrition Supervisor (Cafeteria Worker)
  • Environmental Engineer (Janitor)
  • Child Development Specialist (Daycare Worker)

Titles with “director” or “supervisor” imply some level of leadership responsibility, which can lead to much friction if that isn’t the case. Vague action words like “ninja” and “warrior” are red flags and often reflect a bad company culture or work environment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Inflated Job Titles

Inflated job titles aren’t all bad. Like most things, this business practice has pros and cons. They can boost morale, attract new talent, and eliminate outdated position names. 

Done correctly, this practice can have several positive effects – especially for roles associated with negative stereotypes or gendered titles, such as “garbage man” or “delivery man.” Switching these position titles to something like “waste removal technician” or even “delivery person” can change how people perceive employees in that role. These new names still clearly reflect the role’s duties while addressing the employees more respectfully. 

Unfortunately, overly inflated or vague titles can also have many negative repercussions. Instead of conveying respect, certain word choices may come across as patronizing and insulting – especially ones that include words like “ninja,” “wizard,” or “warrior.” 

This practice can also create confusion about specific job duties, responsibilities, and leadership roles. They may also confuse jobseekers into applying for positions they may not be interested in. 

Should Organizations Opt For Inflated Job Titles?

There are pros and cons to using inflated job titles; it isn’t necessarily bad for an organization to use – within reason. Organizations can use inflated job titles to a positive effect in certain situations, such as replacing outdated position names. 

In cases like this, asking for employee input, such as through an anonymous survey, is helpful. In general, organizations should avoid creating job titles that are vague or outlandish. Stick to words that accurately describe the position.

It’s also important for organizations to be mindful that inflated position descriptions or titles can harm an employee’s career in the long run. Suppose they’re given a title that doesn’t reflect their actual responsibilities or experience when they take a new job with an accurate title that matches their qualifications. In that case, it can look like a downgrade in their career. 

How to Navigate the Challenges of Title Inflation

Inflated job titles can present unique challenges to employees and employers – especially for HR personnel. 

Suppose an employee or potential candidate wants to negotiate for a different title. In that case, the best approach is to clearly lay out the expectations and responsibilities of the position – and highlight how they differ from their current position, including the new duties, the organization’s leadership structure, and the number of people – if any – they’d be in charge of. 

Be sure to emphasize the new position’s benefits, including pay and career opportunities. 

Ultimately, title inflation is only useful in the short term. The best way to find and retain employees is to treat them well and pay fair wages. Ensure you’re reaching the right candidates and using tried and true recruitment strategies like using accurate job descriptions, posting on multiple job search websites, and working with recruiters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Employers Inflate Workers Titles?

Employers may inflate job titles to make the position exciting and attract new talent. They may also do this in an attempt to retain current employees. By offering a fancy new title, they may be able to negotiate with the employee without offering a higher salary. 

What Is an Inflated Title at Smaller Companies?

Employees working at smaller companies often have to wear several hats if there aren’t enough people to share the workload. In these cases, companies may create inflated titles to incentivize their workers to continue doing several jobs – sometimes without extra compensation – until the business expands. 

Final Thoughts

Companies often create inflated job titles to make a position sound exciting or important. They may do this to attract new applicants, or they might do this as part of negotiations with existing employees. 

Inflated titles have several positive benefits. They can replace outdated titles that may be gendered or associated with negative stereotypes. They can be used to address employees more respectfully. 

However, if the titles are vague or grandiose, they can also confuse job duties and may even be insulting. They aren’t a long-term solution for retaining good talent. 

The best way to retain good people is to hire the right ones, and ScoutLogic can help. We offer several services, including background checks, so you can efficiently screen applicants and reduce future risk and unexpected surprises. Contact us at ScoutLogic today to see what we can do for your business.

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