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Job title inflation and what it means for PR

Job title inflation is the emergence of new, more senior sounding job titles entering the market without the experience, skills or salaries to match. A recent study by recruitment firm Robert Walters suggests this is a fast-rising trend.

Over the last year, positions featuring ‘Lead’ or ‘Manager’ in the job title - requiring up to just two years of experience - were up a combined 53% in the UK and Ireland.

Gen-Zs leading the trend

Some point to the trend being led by Gen Z - the generation newest to the jobs market, but perhaps the most outspoken.

According to the survey, an impressive 52% of young professionals - if given the option - said they would take on a more senior role that they may not be ‘fully qualified for’ yet, compared with less than one-third of their older counterparts who stated the same.

As well as this, over half of Gen Zs expect to be promoted every 12-18 months.

Key findings

  • 53% increase in senior-sounding job titles in the past year
  • 52% of Gen Zs expect annual promotion
  • 47% of young workers do not see managing someone else as an indicator of seniority
  • 40% of Gen Zs believe their ‘ideas’ is their strongest asset
  • Over a quarter of employers believe young workers are more ‘entrepreneurial’ than previous generations
  • 70% of employers claim Gen Z lack critical soft skills

The effects of job-title inflation in the PR Industry

The pros

  • Attraction and retention - Giving fancy-sounding titles which they are proud of instils a feeling of importance and value to the business - which can help to boost morale and reduce turnover.
  • Branding for small firms - If you are a new PR agency or start-up, offering more important sounding titles can be an effective strategy to help draw candidates away from companies who have an established brand.
  • Cost saving - Where the money not be available for salary increases - which is unfortunately becoming more commonplace - job-title inflation can an effective way to offer the feeling of progression without having to foot the bill that often comes with this.

The cons

  • Loss of credibility - Employers who inflate job titles can quickly lose credibility to clients. Public relations is an experience-based industry, so if an employee has a certain title, certain capabilities will be expected and if professionals don’t have the experience or skills to fulfil what is expected - the lack of expertise will be reflected on the company.
  • Career growth stalled - Ironically, whilst younger PR professionals initially see an inflated title as a progression it could have the adverse effect by causing confusion at the level a professional is working at and therefore making it more difficult for them to compete in the jobs market.
  • Skills misrepresented - An inflated job title portrays less-experienced professionals as working at a higher level - this could lead to them being put forward to work on projects or in charge of accounts they aren’t experienced enough to handle. Considering that PR is a field that requires intuition, creativity and independent working - there will be less chance they’ll have a colleague to lean on.

Methodology

The featured stats and research come from a mixture of polls, diversity and inclusion research and market intelligence on job titles - all carried out by Robert Walters.

Written by Susie Wei, manager of marketing recruitment at Robert Walters UK

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