What’s in a TITLE? SCM & Purchasing Groups Putting Too Much Emphasis on Job Titles vs Role Content

March 12, 2012

 A word of caution for everyone involved in the hiring process: Hiring Managers, Third Party Talent Acquisition Specialists & In-House Recruiters. This is an easy trap to fall into.  A title shouldn’t be a deciding factor on whether a candidate’s resume gets on the shortlist or thrown on the NO pile for an open job.

A title is nothing more an individual company’s naming structure of a position and varies widely throughout organizations. At Argentus, (verticals in Strategic Sourcing, Retail Category Management, Operations, Planning, Supply Chain etc) we run into the title dilemma frequently and find ourselves having to push back at our clients because we know that putting too much value on a title can risk companies losing out on great talent. Putting too much value on a title is really limiting. It’s time to hang up the “hang ups” about titles.  Here are some examples of what I mean. 

A Strategic Sourcing Director ‘contingency’ initiative that we recently completed (several positions) for a Financial Services company were in fact sole contributor roles. A Strategic Sourcing Manager for an Electrical Manufacturing client we currently are working with for a permanent search has six reports and has global responsibility – way more senior than it sounds. A Manager of Strategic Sourcing for a Global CPG company carries the prime mandate to develop marketing services across several operating companies A HUGE role with a very light title. And another – An VP Operations for a 3PL is actually a big title for a manager, someone in a 20 person company. I can ream off dozens of examples of really talented individuals who have crossed our paths through the years where we have had to deal with the issue of a heavy or light title or in certain cases a title that just plain reads wrong. Here’s a fun one – Sourcing Champion. What do you do with that?

Today, companies are becoming more and more demanding in the specificity of skills and experience they want for the positions they need to fill within their business groups. Never a truer word was spoken in the high demand/low supply areas of Purchasing & Supply Chain. Given this, our recommendation is strongly biased towards this screening process. 

Take the time to immediately move to the MEAT & POTATOES of the resume. Get a really detailed and robust accomplishments page from the candidate. If it doesn’t accompany the resume in the first place, ask for it. Review a LinkedIn profile which should be very revealing. Find out what she/he does or has done in their actual roles. Let that guide you in deciding whether or not this is a good candidate.

Whatever you do, get past the title when you are short listing resumes. It will kill you and you will miss some of the true gems of the candidate market.

We are reminded often of the shortsightedness that continues to exist when companies review candidates’ credentials. Why does this happen? Procurement & Supply Chain can be complicated and intense areas to recruit for. IT Sourcing for example can be daunting and rapidly changing, so Recruiters tend to depend more heavily on the resume and the titles. There is a tendency to take a title at face value and often the BEST talent is walked away from because a title can be misleading.  

A title is very unique to a company’s organizational structure and there is a huge difference in the same title from one company to another. Review their entire background; understand the company’s internal dynamics before closing the door on a candidate. If in doubt – always refer the candidate on to the actual decision maker who understands the role. Rely on the advise of a Recruiting Partner like Argentus to help you realize the hidden talent that might not at first blush appear completely obvious!

Over and Out



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