Wondering how to navigate the confusing world of job titles? Our career coach gives some quick advice to help you through it.
Question: I find job titles confusing, how do I know what kind of roles I should apply for? Ginny, London
I guess some job titles are helpful, in very structured careers. If you want to be an accountant, then job titles with the word ‘accountant’ in them are relevant.
Or are they?
Do you want to be a management accountant, or a financial accountant? Do you want to work in audit, corporate finance or insolvency? Do you want to work in-house, or for an accounting practice?
Or if you go into consulting, the path seems to be pretty clear: you start as an analyst, then move up to associate, then manager, then director. But is it really clear? What practice do you want to work in, which industry or function do you want to specialise in? Are all analyst jobs the same? No.
Actually, if we think about this using jobs we are all familiar with, could we say all bar manager jobs are the same? Or all shop assistants? I don’t think so.
Some bar managers open up, manage the stock, cash-up, do the hiring, work on promoting the venue, manage the team. Some only do some of these things. And of course they have different hours and different environments depending upon the type of bar they work for. The same goes for shop assistants, and almost every other job.
You get the point. So what does all this mean for career decision making?
When it comes to what kind of roles to apply for, you need a much richer understanding than the job title and advert provides. This is why research and networking, and trying to do some short-term work experience if you can, is so important for making good career decisions.
You want to make an informed decision, based on more than just the job title.