Job title inflation in marketing on the rise

Research shows that job titles, such as VP of marketing and CMO, are being listed with limited experience requirements as firms look to attract and retain talent in a competitive jobs market.

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Job title inflation, offering someone a senior job title without the responsibilities that come with it, is increasing within marketing – and it could be having a negative effect on attracting the right candidates to the right roles.

Positions featuring ‘lead’ or ‘manager’ in the job title, asking for a maximum of 2 years’ experience, were up a combined 53% across all sectors, including marketing, in the UK & Ireland over the last year, according to research commissioned by staffing firm Walters People.

It’s a trend that continues when you drill down into marketing roles. VP in marketing roles asking for a max of three years’ experience have increased by 30%, marketing specialist roles with between 0-1 years’ experience have increased by 147% and chief marketing officer roles with just 0-2 years’ experience have increased by 53% in the past year.

Walters People are able to source this information thanks to its web scraping tool that allows them to see new job adverts uploaded onto recruitment sites in the UK. Through this they are able to see the general trend towards different job titles month-on-month.

Salary Survey 2023: Brands opt for restructures and specialist skills to survive turmoilAll this could be considered job inflation, the process of levelling up a job title without the expected responsibilities and requirements that would usually come along with it. “It used to be the case that titles like lead, principle, partner and VP took years of experience and hard work, however, that now seems to be changing,” says Janine Blacksley, director at Walters People.

She says firms could be doing this to save money by offering a better job title to entice staff to stay for experience without having to pay a salary the role deserves. Or for a start-ups to get a “leg up” on more established competition by offering prospective employees a more important sounding role.

This can be a negative thing, however, says Blacksley, who believes attaching senior titles to junior positions could end up “deterring” suitable candidates as much as it attracts them. “Some feel too underqualified to apply,” she adds.

According to research firm Data People, job listings that use the title of ‘senior’ incorrectly can see up to a 39% decrease in applicants.

Senior marketing salaries increase ahead of inflationBlacksley also warned that job inflation can lead to “resentment” within an organisation as some employees benefit from inflated titles while others do not.

“It can lead to a sense of unfairness and inequality within the workplace,” says Blacksley, who adds this could ultimately lead to young professionals at risk of burnout, overall lower staff morale and higher turnover rates.

Generational differences

The research also drills into what impact Gen Z are having on this scenario. Walters People’s research shows that over half of Gen Z workers (52%) expect a promotion after being at a company for 12 to 18 months.

Although this does not mean that they expect to be managing a team of people as 47% of young workers believe that who line they line into is more important than who they have responsibility for.

And they are confident too. Over half (52%) are comfortable applying for a job with a senior sounding title even if they don’t consider themselves fully qualified.

Blacksley believes that the research indicates the “ability to drive high-level decisions” is an important contribution to Gen Z’s feelings of worth to an organisation.

She adds: “This is very different to previous generations who had far more comfort in knowing that their specialism – such as finance or marketing – was part of an important cog in a bigger machine.”



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