Talent Acquisition

Recruiters: Here’s How to Choose the Right Job Title

Ever seen a job ad searching for an employee with an unusually creative title? Then after reading the ad, you find out that the employer is simply looking to fill a very common position by giving it a unique title to make it sound more appealing? If you’re like most people, you probably asked yourself, “Well, why didn’t they just call the position by the name everyone knows?”

Most recruiters have seen this many times. An employer will decide that since their company thrives on “outside-the-box” thinking and encourages unique and creative ideas inventing a radical title for a decidedly non-glamorous position will send the outside-the-box thinkers rushing to apply. Unfortunately, employers who do this are not taking something very important into consideration – unique position titles only make it harder to find candidates who are searching for jobs, as they often never reach their targeted audience.

Call it as you see it

On, there are currently 3,399 job ads seeking Rock Stars. As annoying as this term has become when used metaphorically, employers need to ask themselves whether this is really the most appropriate choice of titles in order to place their job listing at the top of the list of a prospective employee’s job search results. While it may result in a brief pause and a few smiles for those perusing the website, most job seekers search job boards using targeted keyword searches based on their skills and job titles. And let’s face it, not even Mick Jagger would search CareerBuilder using the term “Rock Star”!

I am a big advocate of the K.I.S.S. principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. When advertising an open position, it is important for employers to put themselves in the shoes of the job seeker. What job title will get their position in front of the most candidates? What titles will the ideal candidates most likely be searching for when they log onto common job boards? These are the titles that the employer will want to focus on in the job ad. Just because your company refers to the Receptionist as a Director of First Impressions, or the Website Designer as a Cyber Ninja, doesn’t mean that candidates looking for those positions will search job boards using those titles. In fact, there’s nothing in either of those titles that a candidate would likely include in his or her keyword search when scouring the internet for prospective jobs. In the end, employers should consider the results before advertising for a Ninja, Guru, Super Hero, Wizard, Evangelist, Maven, Warrior, or any other ridiculous title.

Understanding is key

Obviously, for employers who absolutely insist on a unique job title, there are ways to still get their ad in front of the right candidates. One way, for example, is to include several relevant keywords throughout the ad, resulting in the ad appearing in job searches matching the position’s duties and qualifications, regardless of the actual title. However, consider this – in a recent survey by Monster UK, 64 percent of job applicants said they would not apply for a job if they didn’t understand the title. So aside from the fact that a uniquely titled position is less likely to reach the right candidates, once it does, they are less likely to apply to it.

It works both ways

For those job seekers reading this, the same principles hold true for resumes and social media profiles. Currently, there are 287 Twitter users who describe themselves as Social Media Freaks in their bios. While it may show enthusiasm, perhaps it’s not the best way to make a first impression on a prospective employer. Granted, one can assume that these people are not seeking employment. However, any recruiter can attest to the number of people who accept job offers they were never even looking for. So why close the door of opportunity?

Don’t let creativity hinder your search

So what is the conclusion to all of this?

  • When advertising for a candidate to fill an open position, use standard terminology.
  • Conduct a search on a few popular job boards for the position you’re looking to fill and see what titles appear the most consistently. Those are the titles that are most likely getting the most traffic, and will therefore yield the best results.
  • Once you have found that perfect candidate, if giving him or her a unique and individualistic job title meets with your company culture and is acceptable to the candidate, then by all means, let your freak flag fly!
  • But when beginning the candidate search process, remember to think like a job seeker, not like a trailblazer.

What’s the strangest job title you’ve come across? Let us know in the comments below!

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.