The Case Against Job Titles

Blank Business Card on a Table with a Latté & Dayplanner

The other day I was ordering business cards & maintaining my email signatures – something that sounds extraordinarily benign, but it seemed like it took forever for a single part of the process – my job title. so many things went through my mind and were typed & quickly deleted. Rinse and repeat. This difficulty led me to examine why this was so difficult and to a conclusion (in my case, and I believe many) about job titles.

You know, it doesn’t matter if you are the founder of a startup or a key employee in an international corporation, here are some reasons I came up with that support ditching a title on your business card and email signature.

Job Titles can make you complacent:

If you’ve just launched your start-up, printing or typing the title of “Founder” or “CEO” or “President” of your company may make you feel important, but in reality this can be quite counter-productive. Most people believe that this inspires people to make decisions that lead them is bold directions and work 24/7 to ensure their business is successful. More commonly though the false sense of importance can cloud your best judgement and lend itself to an unattributed sense of achievement that often leads to complacency.

Not including a title in your signature or on a business card is a simple way to continually remind yourself that there is still plenty to reach for and achieve. Not only is it free, but can be highly motivating.

The Benefits of Going Incognito

It may seem counter intuitive, but if you don’t have your title on your business card or in your email signature people will start asking what exactly it is that you do. This opportunity is perfect to really sell yourself and your business/company without just replying with your job title.

Can you say Limitations?

While a job title is designed to give people the impression of what it is you do, it can unintentionally give them the false impression of what you don’t do. This can lead to someone thinking you are not capable of something and lead them to choose not to consider you or your company in a business relationship. By not having a title in your signature or on your card you suddenly have the flexibility to adapt your abilities and responsibilities to individual situations. Make sure to leave some white space and keep a pen with you so you can always add notes and information to your card.

Avoid Interoffice Politics and Hard Feelings

It’s no secret that titles within a company can lead to jealousy and resentful feelings. It’s easy to claim that people who have these feelings aren’t going to be appeased by something as simple as leaving job titles off of emails and business cards, but if something so simple can immediately have a positive and productive effect on your team why not consider this option?

It looks Bold and Confident

It’s a universal truth that business cards and emails should not be hyper loaded with information. Leaving out unnecessary details is a simple and uncomplicated way to make a first impression. What’s essential information? Name – Yes. Email – Yes. Phone – Yes. Title – Not so much.

Do you actually need that title?

I’m sure it’s obvious if you got this far that I opted to leave a title off my card and email signature. Are there valid reasons to include a title? Sure, if you are dealing with businesspeople with an inflated sense of self-importance, as an example, they may consider titles important, as they may only want to work with people that they determine are on their level. It does beg the question though, what’s in a title?

The important thing to consider here is to not always assume your job title should automatically be in your email signature or on your business card. Consider your situation, weigh up the pros and cons, and do what’s right for your business or career.