Does your job title accurately describe the work you do? Probably not. IT job titles can be nebulous, fluid things; they’re usually created once, when the position opens, and then never modified as the job description shifts and evolves. Unlike many other industries, it’s important to avoid getting boxed in or defined by your title when you’re in IT.
Why Job Titles Fail in the IT Industry
It’s pretty simple: no one knows what you do, and you do a lot of it. As Simple Programmer points out, there can be up to a dozen titles that describe essentially the same job function. And the management in charge of setting these titles don’t necessarily know which roles you’re going to be taking on. Compounding the issue, the standard IT employee wears a lot of hats. They may really be filling three or four complete job “roles.”
Job titles don’t always advance with you in any industry, but the IT industry moves so quickly with technology shifting and changing, and individuals moving throughout the organization that quite often job titles won’t be updated as they should be. And sometimes, in IT, completely new technologies and new job roles can emerge from year to year, creating a role that literally did not exist before.
Choosing Your Own Job Title
For the above reasons, your job title in IT is often fairly flexible. If you do want to create a more accurate job title for yourself, you should focus on the services that you perform to the company that provides the most value to the company. After all, a job title is a quick way to sell yourself and should be as descriptive as possible without getting cumbersome and all-inclusive. Another way to look at it is by listing your best, most specialized and most often focused upon skill.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to optimize your job title or that your job title will even matter. For the most part, your job title is something that only matters external to the organization, rather than internal to the organization. And stick to the basics: Forbes points out that quirky job titles tend to be off-putting rather than interesting.
Avoiding the Trap of “Job Definition”
For day-to-day work, your job titles don’t, and really can’t, matter. You don’t want to define your job by the title, because that will box you in and make you ineffective. You never want to find yourself questioning “Is it really my job to do this?” when, in fact, it is right there in your job description.
Your job, as noted on LinkedIn, is really about what you do and the level of responsibility you have. Stressing and obsessing over a title will only be counterproductive in this field. In the area of simply “getting things done,” your title means almost nothing. Your salary is more important.
Now your job description: that’s important. If you find that you no longer know what role you seem to have in a company, it’s your job description that you need to take a second look at, not your job title.
Finally, there’s one specific situation in which a job title “matters” when you’re looking for your next job. At that point, you might want to check out the most in-demand IT job titles and determine whether any of them accurately describe what you do for your business. A quick pop over to Human Resources may be enough to both get you sorted and have you sailing towards a better paying or more flexible position.