Monday, December 20, 2010

Is 'Title' Everything?

By: Editing Working Girl

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about titles and how they affect us. Not only do they delineate your position with the company, but also your responsibility. And ultimately, title can affect your future positions and opportunities.

In the editorial world, Editor-in-Chief is a title I have been striving for, and it looks like I am thisclose to getting my dream and dream title at a small, local newspaper. At the same time, it looks as if my Regional Editor title with another publication I work for may be changing into a regional contributor position, as the magazine is re-working their editorial priorities and structures. The writing world is an unpredictable one, and I have always been leery of transitioning into the world of newspapers. But to have the title of Editor-in-Chief, I would immediately make that transition and eagerly.

It is funny what titles do to us. Now that I have been Regional Editor, I have been wondering if there will be future implications if and when I have to change my resume to say Regional Contributor. What if I don't have a chance to explain the magazine's transition and it looks like I was demoted? What if they think I couldn't handle the responsibilities of Regional Editor? Then I move on to thinking about the future Editor-in-Chief role. What if I don't get to play as much of a role in shaping the news as I would like? Are people automatically going to come my way if they don't agree with an Opinion piece, or the writer?

Most importantly: will all of these title changes affect how I work or my writing style?

I have always prided myself on my ability to take on any writing assignment, put in the research necessary and have the finished product on time for deadline. I don't want titles to change how I write or why I write or where I am headed.

Do you have a dream "title"? Do you feel the title you hold now will affect you in the future? Have you met someone who has judged you or placed you in a certain category based on that title? And most importantly - is title everything?


Marie said...

My title is kind of made up. My boss made it deliberately a very open-ended kind of title, because she knew that I would take on many more roles than the one I started with (I work in a very small office).

It's hard to explain it to people because it's not a common title, though. I get jealous of people like my boyfriend, who can just say, "I'm a teacher," and everyone knows what that means.

Angeline said...

I would definitely not say title is "everything," but title is definitely something, for the reasons you state--it can say a lot about you, your career progression, responsibilities, etc. I'm relocating and getting on the job market next year (after over 3 years at my current job) and I will admit that I am not really looking at jobs with a "lower" title than what I have now (manager). Although in terms of my editorial responsibilities, I am managing editor of a very small annual magazine--I would be fine taking a lower editorial role at a larger pub, since it would be hard to argue that my experience would translate into a managing editor role in a bigger publication.

But the same title in different organizations even means very different things. That's why a good description of your position on your resume is so important. The title doesn't convey anything.

KP said...

I took a back step in positions and titles last year. This was intentional so I could get out of a bad work situation, recharge and reevaluate my career. Initially that's what I would tack onto my current title when people would ask, but after 8 months I stopped that. My current title definitely receives a different response than my last one, which impressed people and evoked their curiosity. It's not necessarily negative, but I know it puts me in a different (lower) category than my last title.

I am working up to a more challenging position now that I'm ready again and am tempted to start tacking that information on...

Kris said...

I am definitely pigeon holed in my current title! Do the work of someone way hired, and then get paid way more than someone with this title would at another place. Recipe for disaster!

Suz said...

I don't care too much about titles anymore...they don't mean much in the huge global company I work for until you hit the VP level. I couldn't even tell you anyone's title below VP...I know what the important people to my position do, but not their titles. As long as they pay me what I think I'm worth and I like the work here, I'm happy...and they can call me what ever they want.

gsp said...

I got a promotion about six months ago and my title is made up. It's been amazing because I'm able to work on a large amount of projects and keep taking on additional responsibilities, but it's incredibly hard to describe what I do. It sounds like it should belong squarely in a marketing department but that doesn't take into account the huge amount of tech geek stuff. I'm interested to see how it keeps unfolding.