When trying to attract suitable candidates for a role, the importance of a job title is often underestimated. As it’s the first thing that a potential applicant will see, it’s crucial you get this part right. Failure to do so could mean losing out on the ideal candidate.

Here’s four things to keep in mind.

1. Include keyword phrases

Hiring companies can unfortunately fall into the short-sighted trap of naming a role to suit their internal structure or processes. Each employer has its own hierarchy and understanding of what the title means but this can prove confusing for external candidates, particularly when scrolling through potential roles and time is of the essence.

Obvious as it sounds, candidates will naturally search for roles and phrases they are familiar with and aware of. If your job title does not include the key words they are searching for you will be hidden away and potentially miss out on relevant applications. Acronyms and abbreviations are best avoided and the use of correct spelling and grammar will only optimise your search visibility further.

2. Keep it short and simple

When it comes to the length of the job title less is often more. Keep the title short and concise. There is no need for complexity.

A common mistake is adding into the title key words from the job description in the hope that it will help inform the candidate’s decision. While keywords are great for writing effective job titles, it can be easy to get carried away. Avoid putting too many in a job title. Does a job title really need to be longer than three words?

A long, specific title could put off many strong candidates from even applying, but similarly too general a title will result in an overload of candidates with irrelevant experience. The latter is the lesser of two evils.

Lead with the position and level of seniority required, followed by the area it covers, e.g. “Senior Analyst, Settlements”. This should help to attract candidates with the relevant experience without sounding overly complex.

3. Industry inconsistencies

The financial services industry often has inconsistencies in titles between similar roles. Candidates at differing firms can have indistinguishable responsibilities and daily tasks but vastly different titles. This can make it difficult for a jobseeker to gauge how relevant a position is.

Words such as “officer” and “specialist” are often overused and rarely add anything to the title. A data specialist at one company could have a completely different role profile to a data specialist at another.

4. Avoid buzzwords

Although not commonplace in financial services, a growing number of firms are adopting offbeat titles such as “accounting ninja” or “growth hacker”. While these titles can help garner initial attention, the responsibilities and details of the position can prove puzzling to job seekers. Effective job titles should not leave someone in the dark. Instead, they should clearly communicate the scope of the position so that the candidate can easily identify whether or not it is the role they are seeking.

Avoid using words and phrases to make a role sound more glamourous and exotic than it actually is. Candidates may find the title appealing initially but when digging deeper into the responsibilities and tasks of the role it will become apparent they have been misled.

Balance is key

Often difficult to balance, the job title should be appealing and interesting enough to lure any potential candidates in but not so obscure and complex that they can’t find the role when searching.

Ultimately employers should take a conservative approach and make sure that the title accurately reflects the role and daily responsibilities involved. Candidates want a title that reflects the level and remit of the role, with more and more people viewing them as badges of authority and respect.

So don’t underestimate the significance of a concise and representative job title, both for sourcing the best candidates and ensuring your future employees feel valued and respected within their roles.


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