I always thought titles weren’t necessary. Maybe that’s because my jobs have mostly been very wide-ranging so putting a title other than General Manager or what seems to be popular these days, Chief of Staff, didn’t particularly fit.
When I was at Redhook, I started out with no title and as the years went by, when someone asked me what my title was, I somewhat jokingly replied, “Queen Bee” (not the kind of Queen Bee from the movie Mean Girls. It was more that I was involved in the entire entity.). It kind of fit. I didn’t really want a title; I didn’t hold stock that naming my job was important. I did eventually take on the title of General Manager, however, and when things started shifting around and the CEO wanted to change my title, I resisted.
Somehow, at that moment, I knew that I wouldn’t be at the company for much longer and something inside of me said I’d need the title that reflected what I did (ie General Manager) rather than what the CEO was proposing. Maybe he saw my job differently than I did, or maybe because everything was a moving piece at that point, it made sense to the org chart. And in the end, I did maintain the title, and I did end of leaving. Yet even when I started my companies, I debated whether owner, founder, CEO, etc were the best terms for what I was doing. I guess the idea of a title is just a hard one for me most likely because I feel there are a lot of constraints when a title is given and my jobs have mostly been extraordinarily broad in focus.
As I have looked at job postings, I’m struck by the importance of titles. I’ve always gravitated toward jobs that cross paths across the entire organizations. And not just cross paths, but work between, among and around many if not all departments. Generating a title for that, as I intuitively knew many moons ago, is tough. I’m also finding it challenging to translate my story of my ability to work within a title that has been posted. If a resume gets 6 seconds of eyeball time, and reading a coverletter doesn’t get much more, I find it difficult to force my experience into fairly narrow word combinations that will catch the eye.
I’ll continue to massage each cover letter and resume submission to postings I see, and know that jobs are more likely found through connections (they know me better than a piece of paper for sure!). I’ve just been interested to examine the idea of titles and my odd history with (and without) them.