Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

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Titles Don't Matter

A friend of mine just got promoted. Or so she claims. She didn't get a raise, but she got a better title. The word "assistant" is no longer part of it and "coordinator" is. If she didn't get a raise, did she really get a promotion? She's at least excited about getting the new title because it should bring a better recognition around the office.

She claims she did technically get a promotion because the new title will help her get to where she wants to be going. And where is she going? Probably to another company that values titles above talent, producing, or lifestyle. And if that's the game she wants to play, then her title matters a lot.

When I managed interns at Cool People Care, I told them on their first day that their title could be whatever they want. "Some people will care what title you had here," I said. "So, if matters to you, come up with one. Media intern? Marketing intern? It doesn't matter to me. Just do the work and call yourself what you need to put on your resume. Just don't lie about the work you did."

And that's how we hire at Cool People Care. You could have been a director, an associate, a president, an assistant's assistant. What I want to know is if you can produce. Can you take a inkling of an idea and turn it into something real? Can you do your research, make the pitch, and close the deal? If so, then let's talk.

There have been Presidents who have done very little in four- and eight-year terms, and there are mayors who have moved mountains. There are teachers who change the future and CEOs who squander it. We've each got our priorities and they themselves change over time. Me? Call me the deputy janitor to the chief pancake maker if you want to. Just give me a job I like to go to and pay me what I need to live on and you can fill my resume with titles and names galore.

As for my friend, she's already ignored in her new role. Maybe once she's a "director" or "manager" instead of a "coordinator" she'll be listened to. Or maybe not. I've found that companies and nonprofits that focus on titles instead of talent are pretty uncreative, soulless places to be.

Which is the true irony of it all. She thought that her title would matter - that it would change things. And it didn't.