When we started Marcellus, we decided at the outset that we will shun all corporate titles such as Vice President or Senior Director and instead designations will show our functional roles such as Analyst or Salesperson. We wanted self-selection to work where prospective hires who care about fancy titles as social proof would go elsewhere. Instead, we would rather talented people come to us because we provide an opportunity to do some meaningful work that puts them on a path to fulfilling their potential with attractive financial incentives to boot, most of which are long term in nature. Hence this article in The Economist appealed to us. The article which calls it the job-title inflation, is rather funny showing to what extent employers go to pander to prospective hires’ need for titles.

“When you enter an unfamiliar office for a meeting with someone who works there, you will almost certainly approach a person sitting behind a large desk. You might think you are about to speak to a receptionist. But in some buildings, you will be dealing with someone far grander: a lobby ambassador. If that feels absurd, take a deep breath. Plenty of companies now employ a “director of first impressions”, a job whose responsibilities include greeting all visitors at the front desk, almost as if you were meeting a receptionist.”

Whilst not all titles are as amusing, there are reasons why employers do this:
“When money is tight, a bump in title is a way of recognising someone’s efforts cheaply. A more prestigious-sounding role is not just a nice bauble: it may add to someone’s appeal in the wider job market. When a job lacks cachet, renaming it can lessen stigma and signal that an employer takes the position seriously. And when a role is outward-facing, a weightier title might make some clients more willing to take a meeting.

….The currency of an inflated title quickly loses value. A senior vice-president is someone in middle management; an assistant vice-president is three years out of university; an associate vice-president has just mastered the alphabet. More and more words need to be added to connote seniority. “Senior executive vice-president” is a title which would not exist if not for the massed ranks of vice-presidents jostling below. Absurdities have to be conjured up to stand out from the crowd—chief evangelist, director of storytelling, chief innovability officer.”

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Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice. Marcellus does not seek payment for or business from this publication in any shape or form. Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services. Marcellus Investment Managers is also regulated in the United States as an Investment Advisor.

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