Monday, November 22, 2004

What's in a Title?

I work for a consulting company. I have worked for consulting companies for over five years now. I am not sure what my title is, and I am not sure I care. It seems that when I am needed to do analysis work, I become a Business Analyst. When I am needed to design a database, I become a Database Administrator. When I am needed to lay out the foundation for a project, I become an Architect. I like this about consulting. As a result, I am not sure of one title that could fit my job. I am also not sure that it matters what my official title is.

I have heard of companies that use titles in lieu of paying their talent well. "We cannot afford a large raise for you this year, but how about we give you this fancy title of 'Senior What-a-ma-bob'." So what is the point of a title? Do titles help define our skill set? Do titles help communicate our level of excellence? Or are titles a way for management to placate us into feeling important without giving us monetary reward? What if we did away with titles all together?

8 comments:

RG said...

In larger organizations with gazillions of people, titles can help define the roles of employees and where they exist in the corporate structure.

Ugh. Doesn't that sound awful?

I used to care about titles, but after a few years as a consultant I realized it meant very little.

However, I will point out that it seems to me that your organization isn't assigning a "title" as much to you as identifying your role on a particular project. And certainly identifying roles is a good idea.

Valerie Vogt said...

I agree that roles are important on projects, however I am not sure that it matters if I am working on a small project who the official architect is. Definately it matters who the project manager is.

I guess within the software engineering team, ideally each of us is skilled enough to participate in every aspect of the design and implementation of the project.

I wonder how valuable a title is in a consulting company when it comes to developer versus senior developer versus developer III or whatever the titles may be. I don't even know what my title was at my last consulting company, nor did it matter. If the title is tieing me to a certain salary range or used as political negotiation, but my services are sold at the same rate as someone with a higher or lower rank, that is when I think titles are harmful.

RG said...

I don't think you had a title at your previous job. I don't think any of us did!

Valerie Vogt said...

Exactly! I think I was hired with a title, but I never heard it again after my offer letter was signed.

Aaron Ballman said...

I believe my current title is "Code Monkey", but I could be off.. it's been a while since anyone cared. :-P

Valerie Vogt said...

Excellent, Aaron. I think that may be my title, too!

Jake Good said...

Yes Aaron, I think your title is Code Monkey (barring any profane terms relating to being a code female dog)...

I didn't even know my title until 3 weeks into the job. heh

.Net Pimp Daddy said...

Hey Val,
I had the same problem with you. After 10 years in the industry "consulting", I nearly developed an identity crisis wondering what I actually did. For a while I was a "chimney sweep" ( I pretty much did whatever the job required - I dont care what title you give me... ) but now I have decided to be a Pimp. Same rules of engagement ;-)