Job titles are the core of the workplace. The job title is key to attracting talent and often represents an employee's seniority on the team.
In this Guide, you'll learn about:
An organization's job titles are usually closely aligned with these 6 major tiers. Large organizations get much more complicated. The U.S. Federal Government has 15 job grades with 10 steps with each.
But a good place to start thinking about job titles is with the simple 6 tiers shown in the org. chart pyramid above.
Let's start at the top:
At the top of the job title hierarchy is the C-Suite. The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) usually manages all other people who have C-level titles as well as a President if there is one.
On some occasions (usually in a transitionary period), the CEO might report to both the board and an Executive Chairperson such as is the case with Disney's CEO Bob Chapek.
Here's an example of an org chart of C-Level executive job titles you might find in a large enterprise:
Check out The Top 20 C Level Titles [with Descriptions] for a comprehensive list of C-Suite job titles.
Note: Some industries use different job titles for leadership. For example, Non-Profits often refer to their leader as Executive Director. And healthcare companies sometimes use Chief Medical Officer and Chief Clinical Officer for their #1 role.
Below the C-Suite, most companies use the traditional VP, Director and Manager levels where:
People with individual contributor (IC) job titles often represent the largest group within an organization. IC job titles vary by department and often include a qualifier word such as:
An entry-level job title at a large enterprise might be related to an Intern/Training/Apprenticeship program. Examples:
Smaller companies often lack such entry-level programs and might skip such entry-level titles altogether. They might use the individual contributor-type job titles as the entry-level title instead (e.g. Marketing Specialist, HR Generalist, Sales Associate, etc).
Another common entry-level job title is "Assistant" (HR Assistant, Sales Assistant, Marketing Assistant, etc.). The job board Indeed had 309,198 jobs with "Assistant" in the title as of March 26, 2020. Some Assistant titles, though, require some experience. Executive Assistants for large enterprises are usually reserved for someone who has been an Exec Assistant before or has some industry experience.
Now, let's look at some top departments and the job titles they use at every one of the 6 major tiers of titles.
Most Information Technology (IT) teams have a traditional set of job tiers. The IT Org chart/hierarchy might look like this:
Many large enterprises use Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer as the title responsible for IT. Smaller companies might simply call them VP of IT, Head of IT or Director of IT.
The CIO or CTO usually reports into the CEO or, in fewer cases, the COO or CFO.
What are the most popular IT job titles these days?
Check out The Top 35 IT Job Titles for a list of job titles candidates search for the most based on a recent month of Google queries. Here are top 10:
While software teams often report into IT, many modern organizations (especially tech-driven companies) have their own org chart that might bypass IT and report directly into the CEO.
Here's an example of an org chart of a typical software engineering/development team:
At Airbnb, for example, the job title used for their software team leader is VP of Engineering and they report to the CEO (see Software Engineering Problems ("Who runs the show: Airbnb senior management")).
In Airbnb's case, the Director of IT and Director of Security both report to the VP of Engineering.
Other companies might use the title VP of Software Engineering for their software team leader.
Here's a list of the 10 most common software job titles that candidates search for based on a recent month of Google queries (source: The Top 50 Software Job Titles [Ranked by What Candidates Search For]).
You'll note that some software titles are general (e.g. Web Developer or Software Engineer) while others are platform-specific (Java Developer, Salesforce Developer).
There's also a healthy debate on the differences between "Engineer" versus "Developer" versus "Programmer" versus "Coder", etc. Check out The Top 50 Software Job Titles for an explanation of their similarities and differences.
The top title in Sales is usually Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Sales Officer. CROs sometimes manage teams beyond traditional sales. At Splunk and Namely, the CRO manages both sales and marketing.
At most SaaS (software as a service) companies, the CRO manages "Customer Success", the team that takes care of the client once a sale is made. Most SaaS companies have the CRO manage Customer Success because the majority of SaaS revenue comes from renewals and upselling after the initial sale.
Here's a typical sales hierarchy/org chart with examples of jobs within each.
A key difference in sales job titles versus titles in other departments (like IT, Marketing and Finance) is that many sales titles are based on territories. Examples
Sales titles can also be based on vertical industry such as:
Which titles do candidates search for the most?
Here is a list of the 10 most common sales job titles/keywords searched for based on a recent month of Google queries (Source: The 16 Best Sales Job Titles [Ranked by Search Volume] ):
All of the above job titles (except #4) are individual contributor positions. This is another unique part of sales job titles. The ratio of individual contributors to managers is very high.
The job title for the top marketer is usually Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The CMO reports to the CEO.
Here's a hierarchy/org chart of the 6 core levels of marketing job titles:
The Top 25 Best Marketing Job Titles shows a list of the most common marketing titles candidates search the web -- here are the top 10:
The senior-most HR job title is usually Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) or Chief People Officer (CPO). The Chief Talent Officer title is sometimes used for the top HR leader, though that is usually at an early-stage (mostly tech) company.
Here's a classic HR hierarchy/org chart:
The HR job titles candidates search on the most, according to The Top 40 Human Resources Job Titles (by Candidate Search Volume) are:
Some organizations include diversity within HR but many more modern companies are including diversity in the C-Suite with its own team. An argument for separating diversity from HR is that some companies have diversity goals beyond their employees (e.g. diversity of vendors or customers).
The senior-most Diversity job title is usually Chief Diversity Officer or Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. The Chief Culture Officer title is sometimes used for the top Diversity leader, though that is usually at an early-stage (mostly tech) company.
Here's a classic Diversity hierarchy/org chart:
The Diversity job titles candidates search on the most, according to The Top 20 Diversity Job Titles (by Candidate Search Volume) are:
The senior-most Accounting job titles are Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) and Chief Financial Officer (the CFO is used in businesses where Finance and Accounting are one department).
Here's a traditional Accounting hierarchy/org chart:
The Accounting titles that candidates search on (on Google) the most, according to The Top 20 Accounting Job Titles are:
The senior-most Finance job title is Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Here's a traditional Finance hierarchy/org chart:
The Finance titles that candidates search on (on Google) the most, according to The Top 20 Finance Job Titles are:
Employers looking to optimize the length of a job title to better attract candidates might follow these 3 tips, according to How Long Should a Job Title Be?
An easy way to trim down the length of job titles is to avoid unneeded words or characters such as location, symbols ($,!,*), the name of your business and whether the job is full-time versus part-time.
You'll also want to make sure your job titles are gender-neutral. There continues to be job titles that reveal gender stereotyping such as:
Check out this list of gender specific job titles at Gender-Neutral Suggestions for the Top 25 Job Titles That Still Use the Word “Man” for titles to avoid.
Some companies come up with creative job titles for different roles. Take these examples:
These creative job titles can be attractive for an employee to possess.
Other companies try to be outright funny. Here are a few funny job titles I've seen over the years:
A word of caution: while an employee might enjoy a creative job title for their job, it usually doesn't help employers recruit. There are very few candidates who input a weird job title in their job search.
Editor's note: I plan to add plenty more content on job titles, including tips on additional departments. Thanks for reading and come back if you'd like to see updates!
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