If you have not heard of job title inflation, it is the practice companies use to elevate the title of a job to make it sound more appealing and important. In this tight labor market, this trend of job inflation has resulted in over a 48% increase in senior-sounding jobs titles that include words like “Lead” or “Manager” in the U.S. over the last year. But does it help or hurt either a company or job seeker?
How It Helps
Companies are using this growing trend to attract more potential hires into their workforce or to keep the ones they already have by offering them a more important sounding job title. For example, by adding the word “Senior” to the job title of a mid-level or junior Software Engineer job, the company hopes to attract a larger pool of applicants to choose from. It also allows a company to stretch their budgets farther because in many cases, they are not assigning the responsibilities or paying the salaries usually associated with the title of the job.
Companies realize that today’s Gen Zers expect a promotion or advancement every 12 to 18 months. So by offering them a more important sounding job, they can keep them in the company longer. Otherwise, they will start looking for a job elsewhere.
How It Hurts
However according to the firm Data People, the downside for a company inflating job titles is that if not done correctly, it can actually lead to a 39% decrease of applicants for the job – especially when it comes to including the words like “Senior”, “Manager”, “Head of”, etc. in the job title. Applicants might shy away from applying for a job listed with an inflated title thinking they don’t have the experience or training for a position at that level, when in fact if they read deeper into the job posting, they might meet all of the requirements to be qualified for the job.
The other way it hurts a company to inflate job titles is the job might not show up in job searches because the job seeker is not including the correct title in their job search criteria. And even if they find the job, if they do not include the applicable keywords for that job title in their application, the ATS software that was programmed to look for those words might overlook their application and they don’t make it to the short list of applicants.
Another way it hurts both the company and the person in that job is the new hire many have been hired into a position they are not qualified to fill. In the end this can lead to confusion, miscommunication, inefficiency and a dissatisfaction between the job they thought they were hired for verses the job they are actually doing.
It can also cause dissatisfaction with employees who are actually working in the higher graded position that are doing that higher level job when mixed with people having the same level job title, but not the higher level responsibilities that goes with the position. This can lead to lower morale and eventually a higher turnover rate among the higher graded employees that have been with the company for a longer time.
Job Title Inflation
While job title inflating might sound like a good thing for a company to do, it really isn’t for the reasons stated above. Authenticity in hiring is still the best practice – even if it results in a smaller pool of applicants. Sometimes smaller is better.