Job titles are normally a source of pride for any employee. Once you post role openings on job boards and online job ads, the first thing that a job seeker typically looks at is job titles. Especially when an individual already has prior job experience, job titles are a big consideration. 

Job titles in your company are not only associated with your organizational chart. Jobseekers frequently match the job descriptions with the job titles, and along with these job titles come a myriad of expectations. Usually, the expectation is that the higher the job title, the heftier the salary is, and so are the benefits.

Misleading Job Titles 

The pandemic disrupted the global economy in so many significant ways. When it comes to hiring talent, especially in tech and other critical positions, the impact of the pandemic is nothing short of major. As companies competed for top talent in the COVID-19 economy, many organizations resorted to job title inflation. 

Job title inflation happens when a bigger job title is bestowed to a position that does not accurately describe the work being executed. Sometimes, there is no commensurate pay to the inflated title. Many companies began using this to improve the optics of a particular position to potential candidates, thus attracting top talent into the company. 

A study published by Forbes magazine revealed that there are two available jobs for every individual in search of one. This only means that hiring in this day and age has become cutthroat. 

This led some hiring managers and executives to look for a way to appease employees as well as job applicants without spending too much money. They started offering lofty-sounding job titles to appease both employee and candidate egos, which may come with or without a salary increase. Companies have also used this technique to soften the blow of not giving a significant raise to staff or a lucrative compensation package to job candidates.   

To mitigate the effects of the great resignation in the US, title inflation, once only common among startups and small companies, was also adopted by medium-sized and large companies. 

An inflated job title means that your employee is performing a role that is much larger in scope than what the current job actually requires. This has devastating consequences for the employee, the company, and the industry.

Inflated Job Titles: The Dangers of Faster Promotions and Condensed Careers 

According to HR and workforce management expert James J Clark, faster promotions and condensed careers are not cost-effective and may strain your company’s hiring and labor expenses. This is because various compensation and benefits packages are derived from level eligibility, such as incentive schemes and career growth opportunities.   

Therefore, if your employee is misclassified, your company inaccurately awards them benefits that they would not be eligible to receive. This will pose a big question of how your company will maintain equity across positions and fairness among employees. 

When Job Titles Become Disastrous in the Senior Levels 

Inflated job titles in a company are more disastrous at the executive level than at any other level in the organization. 

Suppose that a company provides a much bigger title to a role to attract talent, knowing full well that the title does not match the duties and responsibilities of the same in the external market. When the employee leaves and applies for your company, you are then easily deceived or misled that a candidate is qualified to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the role – not realizing that your job candidate’s declared position in the resume is just an inflated one. 

As a hiring manager, you may end up hiring a candidate with virtually no experience handling the role, significantly lacking in skills required for the new position. Sadly, there is a strong possibility of a completely unqualified individual taking on a job and beating an otherwise qualified candidate who did not use an inflated job title to land the role. This may also be defeating for an employee who may find a hard time landing a new job for the same role after holding an inflated job title in a previous company. 

Even more worrying is that data shows that inflated job titles are slowly becoming the norm in many companies, regardless of size. A recent study from Bloomberg revealed that the number of senior jobs available for jobseekers rose by 57 percent, pointing to the reality that title inflations happen mainly in the director and managerial levels of the organization. Senior contributors are offered lead or manager titles, while managers are offered Associate Director titles. 

Job Titles Disillusionment and Equity in Your Company 

The statement “Job titles are cheap as they actually do not cost anything” may be accurate or inaccurate depending on which side of the fence you are on. 

A study from Rasmussen University revealed that inflated job titles are also a bane for many job candidates. This may confuse and disappoint highly qualified applicants if the role turns out to have duties and responsibilities that are more suitable for a lower position. With expectations unmet, job candidates and you, as hiring managers, merely end up wasting precious time, effort, and resources. 

When your company practices title inflation, you also open your organization to the dangers of implosion. Keep in mind that the basis for any promotion is a meritocracy. Employees must be given a senior job title because they fully deserve it based on your eligibility criteria. 

In some instances, pay bands also rise alongside a higher job title. While this may be good for prospective employees in your company, it can be disastrous for employees already in your company as they might feel taken for granted. 

A study co-authored by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Tsedal Neeley revealed that employees and new hires given senior job titles faster than they can actually perform the duties and responsibilities connected with the title tend to create chaos within the organization, especially with tenured employees. This breeds insecurity and a prevailing sense of doubt within the organization. 

In the larger scheme of things, this can result in guilt, distraction, and instability among your employees. When employees are disappointed or frustrated, their feelings and disposition take away the vision and purpose of the work itself, which is counterproductive and harmful in the long run.   

Promoting A Fair Job Title Starts with You  

As hiring managers and business owners, you are ultimately responsible for keeping job titles and promotions in check. Instead of finding yourself appeasing your employees or offering bloated job titles to new hires to keep the hiring process up to speed, your company has to be clear and transparent with employees and job candidates. 

Maintain a healthy organizational structure, assign titles to employees by merit, and if the need arises, work with partners who can excellently screen your job candidates to give you the best candidate to fill a particular role in the company. 

After all, what are job titles when in reality, every role in your organization is critical to your company’s success? 


If your company is overwhelmed with the challenges of hiring talent in the era of the Great Resignation, consider partnering with Fox Search Group. Get candidates for your company’s most critical vacancies from the Fox Search Group’s pool of personally vetted candidates. No need to resort to job title inflation or any related tactics. Partner with Fox Search Group for your hiring needs and get the job done in just half the time. Contact us today.