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Are Your Job Titles Turning Off Candidates?

June 5th, 2015
Are you looking for an "Account Development Manager" but not getting the kind of responses you expect? The problem could be that job title.

Tom Borgerding, CEO of college-marketing agency Campus Media Group, used that title -- a real world example, he says -- to illustrate his point that uncommon job titles and industry-specific jargon discourage otherwise qualified people from applying.

This is especially true of Millennials, who are the least likely to know that your Account Development Manager is a fancy title for what, in reality, was an outside sales person.

He knows this because the position was advertised by his own company.

“Even for us, when we’re recruiting, if we’re looking for a new outside sales person, we need to be using job titles – at least in the job posts – [that are written in] more common language, rather than industry-specific speak, or things that are too specific to our organization,” Borgerding told

These days, it's not uncommon for companies to use euphemistic titles for jobs that in an earlier time, would have been described more simply -- and clearly. We have sanitation technicians (garbage collectors and janitors), client relations specialists (customer service reps), and content development specialists (writers).

Even when the job description itself makes clear what the work entails, it's the job title and headline that people see first. Confusing, unclear or jargon-filled titles are sure turnoffs.

To fix the problem, Borgerding suggests:

  1. Ask the people doing the job to explain what they do and propose a title.
  2. If you must use a hard-to-comprehend title, add explanatory material right away.
  3. Experiment with different titles to see what works best.

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