Editor's Note

Editor's Note: What's in a title?

As part of the 2013 Job Outlook survey, Safety+Health asked safety professionals if job titles and the responsibilities that come with them are consistent across the field. Results showed a majority of respondents answered “no.”

The question had been in my mind over the past few years as I looked at responses to S+H’s annual Job Outlook and Salary Survey questionnaires and wondered about the difference between, for example, an EHS director and an EHS manager. The topic was of particular interest to me because I believe a similar situation exists within the publishing industry: Even though certain job titles are fairly standard, in my observation the responsibilities that come with them are not.

In this year’s Job Outlook, Associate Editor Ashley Johnson talks with safety pros about their titles and responsibilities, as well as the skills needed to advance their careers. As Ashley reports, some safety pros believe their current titles may harm their marketability. However, one veteran safety manager said he believes skills and accomplishments matter more than titles.

I can point to at least one recent example of this. About a year ago I mentioned in this column someone I care about who was maintaining a regular schedule of 14-hour workdays as an assistant general manager at a service company. Late last year, he was “rewarded” for his loyalty by being included in the company’s mass layoff of middle managers. However, he was able – in a very short time – to parley his skills and achievements into a general manager’s position at another company, where he’s working a still-challenging, but less-grueling schedule that allows him, for the first time in years, to be home in time to eat dinner with his family. It gives me hope that, for people who are looking to move up the ladder, smart hiring managers are closely examining résumés to consider not only titles, but talent and potential.

The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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