Job title Inflation

Why it is problematic and how to avoid it in your organisation

We live in an age of rampant job title inflation. LinkedIn is awash with ‘founders’, ‘leaders’, ‘executives’ and ‘chiefs’, with some titles less reflective of reality than others. The ‘founder’ of a small salon in Midrand, for example, should simply refer to him or herself as an owner.  A 2010 article in the economist stated that the number of LinkedIn members with the title vice-president grew 426% faster than the membership of the site as a whole in 2005-09. The inflation rate for presidents was 312% and 275% for chiefs.


Part of the problem is related career opportunism, with people priming themselves for higher paying jobs. But this is partly the fault of employers who look for ways to reward their middle-income workers without actually paying them any more money.


PwC’s Christelle Brunette warns against giving prospective employees a desired job title that not only is impressive on their curriculum vitae but also gives them a perception of false power and authority within the organisation.


“As a facilitator of PwC’s job-profiling, job evaluation and reward academy workshops, I tend to make it my life’s purpose to inform HC professionals of the dangers of creating a job title, which they believe will entice the right kind of person into accepting a job offer from the organisation.”


Titles have become important for most professionals as they convey your position during your career. Stay with the same title too long and people may think your career stalled. Jump titles too quickly and it may seem like you are missing some important foundational experiences. When creating a new position, management teams should spend a lot of time thinking about the position, the responsibilities and expectations before turning these thoughts into a clear and detailed job description and job title.