How to Find the Best Job Title for Yourself

Fab Giovanetti

Photo by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Whenever I go out for networking event there is one question that I dread more than any other:

“So what do you do?”

It’s just that feeling that you get when you’re trying to create a CV, or update your LinkedIn profile and you have no idea what your job title is.

At first, I thought it was just me.

I thought I was being grumpy because I did not believe the job titles where relevant anymore. Then, I stumbled across Emma Gannon’s book The Multi-Hyphen Method.

I also read tonnes of articles about the topic, including Kitiara Pascoe about the rise of portfolio careers, and how the economic instability of the mid-00s forced Millennials to reinvent themselves.

The question still stands, do we really need job titles?

The history of job titles

It all started with the 9-to-5, the daily grind — the workforce made of the steady employees who clock on at 9 am and leave by 5 pm.

The 2007–08 global banking crash saw the growth in side-hustlers and businesses. It’s been argued that the increased uncertainty about job security and difficulty finding work can foster a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism.

In 2015, we saw the rise of a new breed: the freelancers, self-employed or those with portfolio careers: whatever the name, working for oneself in a career that utilises a personal passion or skill is on the rise.

Chris Guillebeau’s definition rings true to me:

“It’s not just about avoiding or overcoming economic uncertainty, it’s about creating something for yourself and having ownership over that, and that’s a wonderful thing.”

As the trend increased in popularity in 2019, we have seen a new wave of people prefer a working style of sourcing numerous income streams that utilise their varied skills, talents, and interests.

It’s funny to admit, but whenever people ask me what is the job of my employees, it’s hard for me to give them one job title.

Like an old flatmate of mine used to say, we are all jack of all trades, master of none.

More and more I am seeing people switching job titles for elevators pitches. In a world that loved labelling them sells and others, it’s unsurprising to see that we are now breaking free of all labels, including job titles.

What we truly need is to understand what is our expertise, and we can help other people.

It’s not just me saying this.

Job market trends point strongly in one direction: the future of work is uncertain, fragmented and demanding.

In his book, Job Shift: How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs, William Bridges states that the lack of job security in today’s workplace means that we are all temporary workers in some way. The emergence of the portfolio career and flexible working titles is a clear indication of this trend.

So that’s it, we’ll throw away job titles altogether? That is not what I am suggesting.

The rise of the founder role

Most people have a certain image in their minds when they think of a founder or CEO.

They picture the boss in the corner office, standing behind their desk, gazing out over the city. They imagine someone calling all the shots, and everyone relying on their insight and wisdom — becoming the said Steve Jobs or Richard Branson of your own field.

Do you really have to be a CEO or a founder to be a business owner?

Borrowing words from Jeff Seibert’s article The Role of the Founder/CEO, not all business owners are CEOs. After all, CEOs have one job:

Look at where you’re spending your time, then fire yourself from that position.

If not a CEO, what are you then? That’s when the fun begins.

What job title is right for me, anyway?

More and more young entrepreneurs are using job titles as a way for themselves to define the role, there are possibilities and day-to-day tasks.

As a consultant, it is not likely that I’m going to coach people. More often than not I’ll create strategies, checklists, implementation sheets.

In this day and age, personal branding matters more than ever. As the working environment becomes more automated, globalised and industrialised, personal branding will become a matter of vital importance to make you stand out — which means your title will allow you to market yourself better overall.

A job title also allows me to have a clear message about how I can help people and which services I can offer my clients.

It sounds really silly, but it does help me to find my boundaries. Boundaries about what I will do I want I will not do when it comes to my work.

Are you working for yourself (so pretty much you are your own boss) and you are not sure about how you should define yourself?

There are a few ways you can go about it, but here’s my favourite one for people focused on attracting new clients: ask others (especially clients and peers) how they would define you.

if you had to sum up the work I do for you in one word, what would that be?

Another option, if you are especially looking to find a title that can help you define yourself more than helping others, would be to list a long string of verbs that define what you DO on a daily to weekly recurrence.

First, find your verbs:

I consult, write, direct/manage, speak and teach.

Among all of those verbs, I’d usually choose the ones that I see resonate with me the most, like consult and write.

Those would be the ones that I’d more often than not represent exactly what you do and how, effectively, you do help people.

From here turn the verbs into nouns. Easy peasy.

Labels make the world go round

“I didn’t want an unsatisfying career. And I didn’t want to commit to one place — either one company or one location. I wanted to make my own decisions.” — Rocco Baldasarre

Whether we like it or not, people love to label themselves and others in order to, well, know exactly what they can expect to engage with and receive from us in terms of value and help.

Redefining and broadening our job titles is simply a response to time changing and evolving. Embrace a multi-hyphen lifestyle and move on.

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