One Person, Two Titles… What?

Have you ever worked at a place where you’ve had two job
titles? Internally my title is Communication Department Lead III. Publically, I’m the Public Information
Officer. What the heck?

This scenario isn’t uncommon in the corporate world. Having both an external, public title along
with an internal one is common. Yes,
I know it’s completely crazy which is why you are reading this now.  Organizational charts and pay scales demand
structure and consistency. We are rooted
in processes and planning which for companies is a good thing. Marketing and branding outside of the
organization have different requirements. The necessity of both often results in one employee having two titles.

A Marketing vs.
Process Story

The company’s HRIS (Human Resource Information System)
outlines job titles into a neat and tidy structure. The title is used to clarify responsibility,
rank and assign the appropriate pay band. It’s used internally much like the company’s jargon and might even be
defined in the company handbook. Those
on the inside of the company know what it means. However, it’s here that the understanding
ends. Once the employee walks out the
company door for a business meeting, the title means nothing. Your external job title is a marketing

Marketing and Human Resources needs are often one in the
same. Marketing demands branding,
awareness and consistency. So do those
in the Human Resources world. When it
comes to structure and titles, this is one occurrence where split needs can
cause a split personality for employees with two separate titles.

If our Public Information Officer above used her internal
title on her business card or on the company website, it could lead to
confusion. If a media reporter was
trying to find the appropriate contact for a quote or story source, it wouldn’t
be immediately apparent who the gatekeeper is. However, by having an external title, the reporter quickly knows who to
send the inquiry to. Imagine listing
your internal job title on your LinkedIn profile? It would result in missed connections, job
leads, and other networking opportunities because Public Information Officer
sounds much more grand, important, and trendy.

External titles are necessary with personnel who interact
with the public, external vendors or clients. Most Sales Associates carry a title of Director of Business
Development. Most potential clients
don’t like the idea of being “sold” on an idea. And while they understand they are going to receive a pitch from a
salesman, the Director of Business Development title is more
client-friendly. When potential
clients are at ease, relationships are better developed, sales are made and
your business can grow.

When examining whether this model is right for your
business, take a look at your current structure. Larger corporations often utilize this
approach to provide balance and fairness with pay bands. However, drawbacks can include confusion over
which title is appropriate to use and when. And, after employment ends, it can be unclear which title is appropriate
and correct to include on a resume.

I’m with ya. It’s
crazy, but what does make sense sometimes when it comes to the corporate

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

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Add yours
  1. 2

    Hi – thanks for the article. What’s your opinion on using the external title on LinkedIn and on a CV/resume? My internal title makes no sense and even makes it sound like I don’t work for the company I’ve worked for since 2006. (Internal title – consultant, corporate communications. External title – senior manager, public relations.)

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