Job Titles: Sending the Right Message to Potential Employees

We've all applied for jobs. How do we go about deciding which applications to complete? First, we ascertain what positions are available. The job title serves as the first clue as to whether the opening being advertised is something we have the skills or the desire to do.

What if your company desires to recruit and work with individuals who speak other languages? Sending the right message is equally important in the foreign language if we are to find the best people for the positions. If only it were equally simple.

This topic is discussed by Mark L. Levinson on Elephant, which deals with writing and translation issues in Israel. He begins the column by debating what the proper English equivalent is for a particular Hebrew job title. In consulting various dictionaries, he comes across many (largely awkward-sounding) possibilities. However, he points out, the word was translated into English in a novel simply as "manager," a term which hadn't even surfaced in his extensive search.

Why is finding equivalents so tricky? Each culture runs its organizations differently. Individuals who perform similar roles may be called different things depending on the industry. For example, Levinson points out that the term "director general" is used in the public sector, whereas "CEO, managing director, or sometimes president" may apply to an equivalent private sector role.

Because so much meaning is packed into a job title, having expert translators familiar with business and culture in the target location help you with recruitment documents will go a long way to ensuring that the process of hiring the best people goes the way you hope it will.