I’m becoming a big fan of the website Big Think. It’s like TED without the videos. Thinkers of all stripes share interesting ideas and insights. One that caught my eye today is Jason Gots’ “What Are You Worth? Getting Past Status Anxiety.”
Gots explores the ideas of the French writer Alain de Botton, who thinks we trap ourselves through our work life identities. Too many people live to have the impressive title or work for the impressive firm. Rather than play this snob game without a winner, de Botton suggests that we think about who we really are and focus more on our friends than our jobs.
That’s great advice. We work to live better lives. When our work becomes our life and our identity, we are little more than slaves (self-imposed slavery). Big thanks to Jason Gots for sharing de Botton’s insights in a clear, concise article.
Here is a list of Jason’s writing for Big Think. They are worth your time.
A client called today to tell me that he was going to ask his boss to change his title. I was confused because this client has told me in the past that co-workers who are doing the same job make more than double his salary. Why does he only want a change in title?
My client explained that one of his co-workers is moving to another company and wants him to follow. If he moves under his current title, it’s likely that the new employer will also try to low ball him on salary. So he is asking his current boss to give him something that will not cost a dime, a better title, which he will use to bring up his value with a new employer.
People who live by fear would say my client should be happy to have a job. He should play by the owner’s rules. I’m happy to say that he’s playing his own game – he’s playing chess.
Beware of following every kind of advice you get during your job search. One expert I encountered recently told readers to “customize job titles” so they fit the position being sought. This advice sounds good. I always tell clients to keep information on their resume relevant. However, there is one big problem with customizing job titles: HR departments.
When a prospective employer calls your former employers to do a background check, they usually receive very basic information: eligibility for rehire, years worked, and job titles. If you call yourself a manager and your official title was coordinator, your prospective employer will think you are inflating facts on your resume. Don’t expect a call for a second interview.
What can you do if your job title doesn’t fit what you are trying to say on your resume? I suggest two strategies: rephrasing and subtitles.
Rephrasing is simply to provide a second definition of what your job function was. For example, I once had a client who was a Team Leader at a large department store. Team Leader sounds like this employee might be a Department Manager or even the assistant to a Department Manager. My client ran a muli-million dollar operation. Many similar employers would call his position General Manager. We listed his title as Team Leader (General Manager). The first sentence below the title made clear that he was responsible for all store operations. That’s rephrasing.
Subtitles listed below a main title are another way to let an employer see your relevant skills. For example, one of my clients wanted to pursue a career in training and development. Her current position, the one where she gained the most experience in training, had the title Event Manager. To reorient the prospective employer, we followed that title with a subtitle: training and development. In this section we described relevant skills and achievements. That way the employer could quickly see why my client was qualified for the position.
Beware of changing your job title. The employer can find that information. Instead, use rephrasing and subtitles to help the employer see why and how you are qualified to do the job you are applying for. It’s a little more work, but the effort will payoff in interviews and job offers.
Example of a resume with rephrasing. resume with rephrased titles
Example of a resume with subtitles. resume with subtitles