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If my job title matters after a few months, I’ve failed

By John ~ Friday, 31 May 2013

Over the years I’ve been a Project Manager, a Web Designer, the CSS guy, a Front-end Developer, a User Experience Manager, a User Experience Architect and a Product Designer. To anyone who I talk to who isn’t working in the industry, though, I still say I am a Web Designer and it’s the title I prefer. That the job is more complex than it was when I started is irrelevant, it’s still what I do, I design stuff that lives on the web.

What has happened to me time and time again is my job title is either irrelevant after a few months or is a management tool in which to keep me in my place. Job titles as a management tool are barely worth wasting breath on, suffice to say they are the jobs I have disliked immensely or struggled with because every time I’ve asked a question or shown a curiosity in a certain aspect of a project I’ve been told to get back in my box.

The jobs and projects I have enjoyed the most are the ones where, as the weeks and months roll by, job titles become irrelevant and everyone focusses in on the product and what needs to get done. Obviously there are expectations around the work you are doing (that hateful word ‘deliverables’) but it’s OK to ask the CEO about certain aspects of the business and it’s fine if the “back-end developer” wants to chip in with some thoughts on the latest iteration of the interface.

What I struggle with constantly is how to express that concisely, especially when trying to win a new project or land a job I think I’d have a shot at being good at. Maybe my job title should be “Web designer, cares about users, will poke my nose into your business”.