By Stephan Schulze
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that your job title doesn’t align with your role(s)? Well, if it’s any consolation, you’re not alone.
In many smaller companies, a person can have one title — say, Senior Software Engineer — and fill a bunch of other roles: Lead Architect, infrastructure engineer, and Tribe lead. Or hold the lovely title of Team Lead Software Engineering while their day-to-day job is focused solely on front-end development.
So it is possible, but should this be a reality? When we’re talking about a newly-founded startup, multitasking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might be okay to juggle several functions for a while and be everything to everyone, but it’s probably unsustainable in the long run.
You see, while a Title determines your salary, a Role is more like a jacket; you can have more than one — just don’t forget to match your apparel (and mindset) to the occasion.
Who‘s in charge?
Another aspect is responsibilities: As the self-proclaimed “#1 job site in the world”, Indeed explains, “In a larger company, several employees may share the same job title as you. Businesses provide job titles to effectively organize employees and provide clarity as to who has which role. However, the work you do may differ slightly.”
What does the VP of Engineering (a random choice, mind you) do throughout the day? Do they have a meeting-packed calendar that doesn’t leave time for anything else? Do they onboard associates, outline roadmaps, and engage in hands-on development? All? None?
Sometimes, you need to be able to clarify which roles you’re going to fill just so you can know who’s in charge of doing what once and for all. This problem intensifies when you realize that titles often mean different things at different companies: Head of, Director, Principal, Senior, Lead — who’s the boss?
And sometimes, even when you think that you have a clear title with an explicit role — a CTO, for example — others may feel like you’re responsible for other, more implicit areas (who do you call when the Wi-Fi’s down? Hint: not the CTO).
So, should you diversify? Sure, as long as you remember that wearing too many jackets at once might not always be the comfiest choice.