One Person, Two Titles… What?

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Have you ever worked at a place where you’ve had two job titles? Internally my title is Communication Department Lead III. Publicly, 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 play.

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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

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2 Comments on "One Person, Two Titles… What?"

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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.)