Inflated Job Titles

It’s understandable that early in your career you’re eager to move up the corporate ladder and make a name for yourself. There’s no secret formula as to how this is done. What I’ve noticed though is many people are opting to take the job title-inflating short-cuts instead. Rather than earning it, many give themselves a more prestigious (and totally undeserved) title upgrade. Does anyone else not find it strange to come across someone two years out of college calling himself a VP of Business Development? Then you find out this “guru” is one of three people who make up the entire company. His partner also happens to be the CEO, CFO, and COO – very impressive indeed! The title alone is no competitive advantage.

Although you might feel some sense of pride when you hand out a business card with this flashy title, the truth is you’re not doing yourself any favors. Do you really think you’ll be able to hold a conversation with another VP counterpart who approaches you? Of course not – you’ll be exposed and embarrassed immediately. When recruiters are hunting for someone with your background and skill-set, you will be overlooked. When I conduct a search on Linkedin to gather a sample of online prospects, I look at the obvious choices presented before me. If a portfolio company needs help building a sales team and wants someone with 2-3 years of experience, I look for fitting titles like Account Executive, Sales Associate, Business Development Representative, etc. What action do I take when I see a VP of Sales? I mosey on right past that profile because I assume it’s irrelevant. Don’t let that be you.

What do you call yourself then if you’re one of a few employees in a small start-up? At the very worst case, call yourself a “manager” of something. Over the years, the essence of this title has shifted. It no longer necessarily means someone who directly supervises other personnel. A manager could also simply refer to a task or project owner and include no one else, but himself. Genuine discrepancies in titles do exist and that can’t be helped. I often see this when comparing medium to large enterprises. Sometimes a VP at an expansion stage or a medium sized company really is equivalent to a Director at a large corporation. These factors are taken into consideration. As a professional and potential candidate, all you have to worry about is being real with yourself and the rest will take care of itself.

Victor Mahillon
Victor Mahillon
Director of Recruiting

Victor Mahillon is the Director of Recruiting at Kamcord. Previously he was a Talent manager at OpenView.
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