15/10/2012 15:43 BST | Updated 15/12/2012 05:12 GMT

What Do You Do? Communicating the Right Message in Your Job Title

There's a strong chance that you have been communicating the wrong message to your potential customers as soon as you introduce yourself and hand them your card, without even realising it. This is particularly true if you are in a sales role, but not exclusively.


I first spotted this issue when running a LinkedIn workshop with a group from one of my clients. I talked about the 'Professional Headline', the field on LinkedIn that appears just below your name and describes what you do for a living.

The vast majority of people simply place their job title in this field, something that I believe is the wrong approach, even more so now that LinkedIn have redesigned profile pages and your current role appears immediately below this Professional Headline.

Most job titles don't communicate what you do for your clients; they simply tell people what your responsibilities within your own company are. Too often they communicate what we are going to do to or with people, not for them. Even if you have an internal role and your 'clients' are staff members at the same company, do the traditional job titles really communicate what relevance you have to them?

For example, how many people have the job title 'Sales Director', 'Business Development Manager' or something similar? What does that communicate to potential customers? Does it suggest that you have their interests at heart?

On the contrary, the role of 'Sales Director' is internally focused, with a responsibility for selling more. It does not suggest to the prospect that you have their interests at heart.

Similarly, from an internal perspective, how much warmth do you think a staff member has when seeing the job title 'Head of Human Resources'? Do we think of ourselves as 'Human Resources'? Probably not. Surely there is a better way of framing the role, one that appeals to and engages with the people brought into contact with the function.

What does your job title say about you and what does it communicate to the people you interact with, whether through LinkedIn and other social networks, or face to face? The standard job titles may be fine for internal communication (to a degree) or for describing your role if you are looking for a job, but can we describe ourselves to the wider world in a more engaging way?