There is often debate around the importance of job titles. Some want their title to reflect seniority and status within a company hierarchy. Others want their title to reflect their skills and expertise or their day to day activities.
It is a balancing act to ensure someone’s title reflects their seniority and their responsibilities; both internally and externally. However some can be quite misleading, varying greatly across businesses and industries.
In the past few years we have seen a rise of different job titles gaining popularity across the transport and infrastructure sector. Others are losing their relevance. These are our observations.
Up and coming titles
“Head of Social Value” has gained popularity in consultancy roles. These senior roles capture the added benefits of infrastructure projects to society. We recently wrote a blog on the rising importance of social value. It’s safe to say we can expect to see more of these kind of roles in the future.
Another title seen more and more is “Director or Head of Sustainability”. This title’s rise in popularity comes as no surprise. Having a dedicated Sustainability leader provides your company with a fresh perspective on how to navigate climate and social risks. The government’s target of being net zero by 2050 is driving this change.
It’s only natural to expect more of these positions and titles emerging over the coming years.
On the out
We’ve also started to notice a decline in once popular job titles in favour of others. “Personnel Directors” or “HR Directors” are being replaced with “Talent Director”, “Human Capital Director” and “People Director”.
“Customer Services” has been replaced with “Customer Experience”. “Sales” is being phased out in favour of “Business Development”. In many firms, “Business Improvement” is now “Business Transformation” and so on. Titles including “Digital” or “Innovation” are also on the rise.
A lot of these changes may seem minor. But they are a deliberate shift by companies to modernise titles.
How can a job title attract the best talent?
The crux of this is; job titles are a useful tool when attracting and retaining top talent. They cost the business nothing.
If the role of “Director” has responsibility across the whole group or a range of divisions, then using “Group Director” will attract more candidates. Of course, if there are many people doing the same role it is best to stick with Director. Companies have started to adopt the American style title of “Chief Something Officer”, for those who sit on the Executive Board.
Employees who do a lot of external facing/client work who are in an upper mid-management role will often prefer to be a “Head of” or “Leader”. This is to show clients they are responsible for that function/service/market. For example “Head of Business Development” or “Engineering Leader”.
Do not go overboard with job titles. Some companies hand out a lot of “Director” titles. Although this may reflect someone’s progression within the company, having too many “Directors” can be a double-edged sword. This will devalue the weighting that title should carry.
Within Technical and Management Consultancies we often see significant variation in what a job title means. One firm’s “Director” or “Managing Consultant”, may be a much more senior than another’s.
Job titles are there for a reason. They need to convey to clients, suppliers, partners what it is the individual does and where they sit in the hierarchy. The benefit to being selective is that you get clear lines of authority. In our experience, candidates in Transport & Infrastructure tend to like short and straight forward job titles.