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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Price

Job Title Roulette

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”-Satchel Paige


In my last blog, I wrote about how over the course of my recent job search, my priorities shifted. Throughout the process, job title was not a priority, yet recruiters and hiring managers asked me to walk them through the “trajectory” of my job titles. I flat out said that title wasn’t important and that the bullet points on my resume that tell the story. Yes, some of the job changes were “lateral”, but each position hit the sweet spot of my bringing my skills and expertise to the table while also providing growth potential.

Benefits, as an HR function, is often paired with compensation. Whether the functions are separate or combined is generally reflective of the size organization. Through my job search, I interviewed for positions with all the titles noted above as well as Senior Director. Reporting relationship and compensation were mainly a function of the organization’s industry and headcount, but not always. Starting salaries overlapped between titles; some jobs had as much as a 60% difference between the high end of one range and the starting range of another. Job titles at my level and in my employee benefits wheelhouse are relative.

When I was in high school and college, I thumbed through Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Quotations almost every night. Without my copy of Bartlett’s readily handy as I typed, I googled “job quotes”. I found a quote from the early 1900s which was “spot on” but, I opted to not include it because of the individual’s political and social views. The quote, though, reminded me of the Satchel Paige quote I noted in the blog header. For those who aren’t familiar, Paige played in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball (MLB) after Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier in the MLB. At age 42, Paige, a pitcher, was the oldest player to debut in the MLB and at age 59 he was the oldest player to play in the league. Is it serendipity that 42 was also Jackie Robinson’s number—the only number to be permanently retired in baseball? So, what’s my point? Satchel Paige wasn’t focused on his age and what that meant for starting or ending his career? He played based on his ability to play and play well. Similarly, if I like what I do, work hard, and do my job well, does my title matter?

My hands have been hovering over the keyboard mulling over how to represent my thoughts-some objective, some emotional, so I made a see-saw:

If the bullets on a job description are a solid blend of what I can bring to a position and what the position offers me in terms of continued growth, job title is unimportant. From elementary school through graduate school and across my career, I have been goal and success driven. The ego and external experience factors are fiercely intertwined. Job title in and of itself doesn’t impact my ego. The assumptions others may make about me based on my title (and the concomitant experience and expertise) gives me pause.

I should work on that.

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