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How to Identify the Right Job Titles for Your Job Search

By Hannah Morgan

When you rush into your job search without knowing where to look, what you want to do, or what’s happening in your industry, it is sort of like heading up a mountain without knowing the trails.

Conducting research in advance will provide you with information that will make the hike easier and more focused.

It will allow you to present yourself more convincingly as a potential solution.

Job titles are not consistent. Companies call similar job functions different things. This can be frustrating when you are looking for a new job, not to mention, limiting. You want options. You want to be able to evaluate opportunities that are close to what you are looking for. Even among the same job titles, you will find differing job responsibilities.

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Starting broadly at the beginning will help. You don’t want to miss any opportunities because you weren’t looking for them. You are increasing the range on your radar. Don’t make assumptions that may limit your opportunities. Instead, do your investigative research to determine which will be the best fit.

There are two ways in which you can begin doing some research on job titles and both are equally important: online research and networking.

Researching Job Titles and Functions Online

You knew what your past employers called you, however, that may or may not be the same for other organizations.

If you plan on staying in the same line of work or following a similar path, here are some resources to help you uncover job titles.

The idea behind using these tools is to map out the possibilities.

Job postings

On your favorite job board, like giant job board Indeed.com, enter your desired job title (as you know it).

Don’t add any geographic preference at this time.

Then, see what comes up (Hint: look beyond the first page of search results):

  • Do you see any new titles?
  • Are you seeing anything different?
  • Does one of your target employers use a job title different than others?

If so, go take a look at what the descriptions say.

Find the “view similar jobs” option, and investigate jobs that look interesting. Again, see if you come across different job titles and look at the description. Each board is a bit different in how they show related or similar job titles.

Sites like Indeed.com pull job postings from multiple job boards, employer websites, and more.

You aren’t eliminating options during this process; you are opening up options. Don’t be too quick in your decision/judgment.

[Read How to Identify Exactly the Right Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile for tips on using Indeed.com's JobTrends to find the best job title for you.]

LinkedIn

You can search jobs posted on LinkedIn and find similar jobs as well. If you select a job posting and scroll to the bottom of the page you will notice two valuable categories “People who have viewed this job also viewed” and “search more jobs”. Both of these might be helpful in gathering additional titles. Don’t forget to view the similar jobs box on the side bar!

ONet

ONet is an occupational database created for the Department of Labor. There are many aspects to this database, but for now, enter your desired job title into the field labeled “Occupation Search”. It will display, rated by relevance, related occupations. Click on the most relevant and look at what is displayed for “sample reported job titles." Add these to your list. Now scroll to the bottom of the page and find “Related Occupations." See if any of these are close enough and view the “sample reported job titles."

If you are thinking it might be time for a change and you are looking for a career somewhat similar to what you used to do, you may find this online resource helpful.

MySkillsMyFuture

This very simple tool, MySkillsMyFuture, also from the U.S. Department of Labor, can help get you thinking of other careers. All you need to do is enter your current or past job title, and click on the “find my career matches” button. It will find closely related careers. Once you’ve found a career that is of interest, you can compare skills, see posted jobs, find businesses, and see salary ranges.

Networking: Saving the Best for Last

Now, compile all these job titles in one place. Test these job titles with people in your industry.

This will make great networking conversation for those who are in a similar field. Also, be sure to ask them what other job titles they’ve heard being used.

If you find someone who seems to have the job you want, as they describe it, ask them their job title and other job titles, perhaps at other employers, which they have seen used for the same job.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a very different job opportunity or are staying on the same track, an early part of your job search should include identifying potential and related job titles. This research will help you understand what other information you will need to gather during your search. It will also give you a better sense of what is going on in the marketplace. You’ll feel and look more knowledgeable. You’ll waste less time down the road investigating alternative job titles and you’ll be more organized and efficient as you look for the right new opportunities.


About the author...

Hannah Morgan, Job-Hunt’s Social Media Job Search Expert, maximizes her own personal branding and online visibility using social media platforms. She is a job search strategist and founder of CareerSherpa.net. Follow and connect with Hannah on Twitter (@careersherpa) and Facebook (Career Sherpa). To read more articles on how to use social media for job search, visit her site: Careersherpa.net.


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