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Job titles can be deceiving. First of all, many titles are shared across multiple disciplines and industries. You can be a Project Manager who oversees construction sites or you can be a Project Manager who manages digital advertising campaigns – two matching titles with two very different sets of duties!

But even more deceiving is that a certain job title equates career satisfaction. I so often have Career Coaching clients who say, “If I can only get that job title I KNOW I’ll be happy!”

But instead of focusing first on the title and what salary or opportunities you presume come with it, it’s wiser to ask some deeper questions. Questions like “Will I be able to contribute my best talents to this organization or cause?”

Notice my use of the word “talents” here. Talents go beyond abilities. I’ve talked to a lot of people who struggle with the fact that they have many learned abilities that don’t showcase their talents. Confusion sets in because the title they thought they wanted turned out to be “just a job.” This explains why so many individuals get a degree only to turn around and choose a different focus and discipline in the job market. What they’ve learned doesn’t match what they are best at!

Many people have careers/titles they enjoy, but then new technologies, advanced systems and organizational changes force their career to go through a transformation. The title they had no longer reflects the job they are doing, nor the talents that used to be in play. In this scenario, job burnout is almost a guarantee.

So, what should you do instead of running after titles? Here’s the process I recommend:

  1. Make a list of the job duties you naturally get energy and satisfaction from – your talents.
  2. Look for roles within and/or outside your organization that line up with these duties. It’s extremely important that you look at roles through the eyes of the natural talents you identified, not just a list of learned skills. Identify a clear role that you might be interested in researching.
  3. Find other individuals who are performing these roles to find out if it truly does line up with your natural talents. Again, don’t blindly trust the title! Make no assumptions and get your facts from real people. From my experience, when you explain your situation and that you’re exploring whether or not a certain “title” or role is right for you, people are happy to help.

Finding your next opportunity – whether it be a promotion or new career altogether – takes real work and focus. Titles in themselves won’t give you lasting satisfaction, so take the time to gather information and find out what fits you, not how to make yourself fit the job.