Sep 09, 2014, 06:44AM

The Importance of Job Titles

Next time don't waste time on that "functional resume."

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There comes a time when the unemployed need to begin looking for jobs in areas that may not be their area of expertise. I reached that point long ago, but today I had an interview that placed a spotlight on yet another level of insanity in the job search. The interview was for a Customer Service Representative. The job description explains the position would be in a call center environment, responding to new requests, complaints and service orders from established accounts. Systems furniture experience a plus.

I come from a Facilities Management background. It’s a field dedicated to creating and ensuring a functional environment, which includes people, place, process and technology. In other words, when you have a complaint and don’t know whom to call, whether a clogged toilet, a leaky A/C, a blown circuit, your phone is down or the vending machine doesn’t stock Nutty Bars, Facilities Management is the group to call.

For the general "worker bee” the requests would involve a wide range of issues. For example, FedEx didn't pick-up the packages, there's no Diet Coke in the vending machine, there's a foul odor coming from the drain in the restroom, the fluorescent light is flickering, a power outlet doesn't work, the cube isn't set up for a left-handed person, the copy machine is jammed, the keyboard tray is causing carpel tunnel syndrome, someone cooked fish in the microwave and the smell is causing mass nausea, the courier stole my honey bun...

Middle manager calls are geared a little differently. Their calls sound more like this:

* My team needs to be seated in the same cubicle cluster so they can effectively brainstorm.
* We don't have a departmental printer.
* Our system needs UPS backup.
* The A/V system in the conference room doesn't work.
* There aren't enough filing cabinets.
* It's always cold.
* It's always hot.
* Why don't we have a bigger break room?

Then there are the executive calls: mission critical resources need to have generator back-up, we need a disaster recovery plan, we need Kate Spade china for lunch meetings, the caterer needs a serving area, the flower arrangement in the lobby is hideous, I'd rather have a cherry wood desk, or someone is stinking up the boardroom bathroom.

Yes, the facilities manager job involves a great deal of customer service. Since it also involves space planning and the build-out of cubicle spaces using systems furniture, I'd be a great fit for this position. Right? "I don't see Customer Service positions on your resume." There's a reason the "experts" tell you to go with a functional resume when applying for jobs involving transferable skills. It’s so the interviewer can see the actual duties and responsibilities that have been performed. They can see the applicable skills at work. I point out the Customer Service section outlining this specific experience and my career successes.

"But you haven't actually been a Customer Service specialist." I discuss how Facilities Management is by definition a customer service specialist, telling him a few stories of customer service scenarios and the aligning procedures. We talk about difficult situations and positive outcomes. We discuss systems furniture, the job specific requests and how I would approach the customer. He is clearly impressed.

Or is he? "We're looking for someone who's been an actual Customer Service Specialist." I’m certain I hear a symphony of crickets in the background. Forty minutes into this interview and it's become clear experience isn't as important as title. This recruiter has a very limited filter in this screening process. I almost feel sorry for the hiring manager.

Note: Next time don't waste time on that "functional resume." Just be creative with the job titles; it involves less editing and if they call to check references you can always say they did a re-org and the position titles changed. After all, what's in a title?

  • Goodness. If the interviewer was only going to go down a checklist, he could have saved you a lot of time. Good luck in your search for employment and please keep us updated.

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  • Good grief. The absurdity continues. Obviously this interviewer is stuck in a narrow box. Our company does a lot of facilities work. It is most certainly customer service!

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