Over the past couple years I have noticed an interesting trend and I am curious to read your thoughts. This trend is:
The haphazard awarding of titles to those who do not have the responsibilities to match.
Once-upon-a-time a young civil engineer, somewhere, with just a few years of engineering experience, was given the title of “Project Manager” by his current employer, or by a competitor who offered him an opportunity to join their team. And then the floodgates opened.
EIT’s with 3-4 years of experience started becoming “Project Managers,” PE’s with 6-8 years of experience started becoming “Department Managers,” you catch my drift.
Why is this happening?
Well, in an extremely tight, candidate driven civil engineering marketplace, employers are giving candidates what they want in order to attract them. Many employers are so strapped for talent that they are willing to give candidates their desired titles, which makes them feel really good, but at the end of the day they are not carrying out the traditional duties of the title they received, quite frankly because they are just not ready. What I’m seeing is that Project Managers are really Task Managers or Project Engineers in disguise, Department Managers have the responsibilities of Project Managers, and Director and Vice President titles are being printed on business cards all across the country for those who have traditionally been considered Sr. Project Managers. This, in turn, creates problems for companies trying to then recruit these candidates down the road, because they may have a need for Project Manager or Sr. Project Manager, but they are having to convince a “Department Manager” that the role would actually be a step up, despite the title. There are ABSOLUTELY exceptions to the rule as I do on occasion speak with some very talented engineers who are deserving of those titles, despite their years of experience, and I, in fact, will discuss this matter in a future blog.
In the short-term, this trend may payoff for candidates who feel entitled to carry a fancy title and for firms who are doing whatever necessary to attract or even retain top talent, but in the long run, it is the candidate who I see getting the short end of the stick as they will begin to plateau at a much earlier stage of their career. They either end up turning down outside opportunities that TRULY are much better because they get hung-up on their titles and they cannot see the forest for the trees, or they eventually begin to actually lack promotional opportunities because when the smoke clears, hiring managers and executives truly begin to see their level of talent actually does not fall in line with their title.
Generally speaking, are you seeing what I am seeing?