Job Function Vs. Job Title (Definition And Comparison)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While applying for open positions, you may frequently come across terms like job title and job functions in a job description. Both are important components of a job posting that convey a company's expectations and give candidates an idea about their designation and responsibilities. Learning about how a job function differs from its title can help you understand the job, increase productivity at your workplace and improve your performance. In this article, we explain what job functions and job titles are, discuss the importance of each and explore the differences between them.

Job function vs. job title

When comparing the terms job function vs. job title, you may encounter a few similarities and some differences between the two. Companies use job functions to describe a position and allot a list of tasks and responsibilities for each of these positions. Organisations typically hire employees to provide for multiple job functions under one job family. Employees working within one job family may have similar educational backgrounds and knowledge. For example, human resources is a job family and compensation, benefits, payroll and employee engagement are its different job functions. Some examples of job functions under different job families are:

  • accounting, auditing, compliance, risk management under finance and accounting

  • application systems, business systems, IT project management and network services under information technology

  • litigation and legal support under legal department

  • communication, public relations or media under marketing and communications

A job title is a name for the position someone holds within a company. A company can choose a job title based on its organisational structure, vision and working style. Depending on the role, these sometimes describe a person's responsibilities. For example, a freelance writer's job title communicates that the individual writes for remuneration. Often, these include a level of seniorities, such as chief, manager and junior. A potential client, vendor or supplier can easily reach out to an appropriate employee using their job titles. Some examples of job titles are:

  • payroll executive, payroll manager, benefits executive or benefits manager under the human resources function

  • marketing executive, marketing manager under marketing function

  • general counsel or paralegal under the legal function

Related: What Is The Meaning Of A Job Profile? Definition And Tips

Purpose of job functions and job titles

Before an employee considers an open position, it is important that they know what the employer expects from them. Job function is an important indicator to verify if the job suits your educational background or experience. For example, a recruiter is likely to apply for a position that mentions recruiting as a job function. If a company does not mention the job function in their job posting, they may receive irrelevant and mismatched applications.

The primary purpose of a job title is to indicate your role both to your employees and to external stakeholders. It is also an indicator of your seniority and your place in the reporting structure of an organisation. Large companies may have multiple employees with the same title. Companies may decide on pay scales and benefits based on job titles to maintain uniformity. It helps them identify employees whose work deserves a promotion or incentives for the same level of work and experience.

Comparison between job functions and job titles

Job functions and job titles have specific roles in conveying a company's organisational structure, hierarchies and reporting structure. Both these terms have specific purposes. While a job function is what you do, a job title is what others refer to you by. Some of the other important differences between job function and job titles are:

Relevance

Job function offers a variety of benefits for an organisation. A job function helps hiring managers identify employees with the right credentials and work experience. They may use a job function to define an employee's roles and responsibilities when they send them an offer letter. Job functions are also crucial to prevent overlap of duties between employees and for ruling out causes of conflict or miscommunication. It helps managers delegate tasks according to an employee's functional area. When a manager decides on teams, a job function helps them identify the right employees for a cross-functional team.

A job title may not influence such considerations and has a limited role in introducing an employee to their colleagues and others outside the organisation. It helps to streamline correspondence and communication within an organisation. Job titles are important for employees who work directly with customers, vendors and suppliers. It helps outsiders to understand an employee's role within an organisation. Job titles also provide insights into an employee's career growth that a hiring manager may monitor and track.

Description

One main difference between job functions and job titles is the length of the description. Job functions tend to be longer since they describe responsibilities. These often appear in a bulleted list format to include each task separately. A job title usually uses the least amount of words possible to describe someone's role. This is the summarised version of a job function and lets others know what the role of an employee is in the company.

Job titles are brief so that they are easy to understand. These often include just the keywords required to label an individual's job. Unlike job functions, job titles focus on the most important task of a role. For example, the job title photographer lets the public know that the professional takes photographs but doesn't include their other job duties, such as gathering props and setting up photo shoots.

Accountability

Job functions serve as an accountability tool for individuals. By knowing what responsibilities they have each day, employees can meet the expectations that the company requires them to meet. This also helps them know what responsibilities they could have if they consider another role to prepare for advancement. For instance, someone looking for a management role may notice the role comprises a lot of leadership duties. Knowing this, they can decide to work on improving their leadership abilities.

A job title serves as an accountability tool for employers. They label their employees into different groups based on their skill level. They can promote individuals to new job titles when they feel they meet the next level of expertise. A departmental head or a manager may delegate or assign projects to others based on the role's focus.

Creation

A company takes time and effort to create a list of job functions and the various roles and responsibilities for each job function. Attention to detail helps them identify the right candidate during the hiring process. A job function can be a task list or a list of job-specific competencies.

Companies assign job titles based on their organisational structure and an employee's seniority. Companies that follow flat organisational structures use simple and traditional designations, while start-ups and new companies may prefer to use innovative titles. It is important to distinguish that an employee may have one job title but multiple job functions.

Related: What Are Company Titles? (With Examples And Descriptions)

How does a job title matter to an employee?

Your job title can impact your current role and can influence future roles. A job title defines your position in a company in relation to others and informs others about your level in a company. If your job title is 'process executive', you may have less experience and may likely work in an entry-level role. A hiring manager may look at your resume and analyse your career progression. If it shows a continuous rise, they are likely to surmise that you have done well and have reached higher levels.

Job titles are important when employees collaborate with professionals outside the company. It indicates your authority, your credibility and your decision-making abilities. Titles are useful during client interaction and for deal closure, as customers and clients may respond better to someone with a senior title. One of the areas of impact of a job title is typically on remuneration. Senior titles are more likely to attract higher salaries. A potential candidate can negotiate for a suitable title with a hiring manager to represent their career progression, seniority and experience.

Read more: What Is A Job Title And Why Is It Important?

How do job functions and job titles impact salaries?

Companies may use codes for job functions and job titles to link them to an automated system to arrive at a suitable pay scale or a salary range. Hiring managers send offer letters to potential hires based on the pay scale and the employee's current salary. Companies also research market rates for similar roles, titles and job functions.

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