Job titles are commonly used in various business documents, emails, etc. It’s quite common to see professionals using their job titles or designation in their email signatures, in fact. But should those title mentions be capitalized?
Job titles must be capitalized on cover letters, resumes, emails, etc. Outside of the business realm, the need to capitalize a job title depends on the prescribed writing style or style guidelines, and correct grammatical rules. Titles are also capitalized based on where they are placed in texts.
Keep reading to learn more about job titles, what do they mean or indicate, how to use them in sentences (with the various capitalization rules in mind), and lots more.
Job Title – Definition
A job title describes, in a limited number of words (usually a word or two), the position an employee holds in a company. Based on the job, the title could describe the position level or the person’s responsibilities. When searching for a job, people use job titles as their search terms. Based on the job level and role, the following words are commonly found in job titles:
- Terms such as “executive”, “director”, “manager”, “supervisor”, “chief”, etc. denote management jobs
- Titles such as “chef”, “housekeeper”, “accountant”, “programmer”, “social media specialist”, etc. throw light on what the individual does at work.
- Certain titles such as “lead accountant”, “head chef”, “marketing manager”, “electrical superintendent”, etc. reveal both the level and responsibility of the job.
Based on the size and nature of the business, job titles could be modified or used without changes.
Large organizations usually have a formal or standard set of titles for every position. Those are also set keeping progression in mind. In other words, terms such as “junior”, “assistant”, “lead”, etc. tag along. A start-up or small business, on the other hand, would be more flexible with its titles with just one or a couple of people in every role.
Employers even use job titles to indirectly communicate the compensation of the employee. Specific job titles could be linked to pay grades. Based on the title, one can ascertain the level or range of compensation the individual could be taking home. For example, between a general manager and a junior clerk, it’s quite evident that the former earns more.
Difference Between Job Title and Occupation Name
Kindly note, a job title is not the name of an occupation. For example, “teacher”, “journalist”, “artist”, etc. are not job titles. These are common nouns or unofficial titles. The name should be a bit more specific or recognized within the industry or organization for it to be a job title.
The noun “teacher” is generic. The terms “dean” and “assistant professor”, however, are not. Similarly, “journalist” is a general noun. The titles “chief editor” and “social media manager” etc. are proper and a lot more specific.
How to Properly Capitalize Job Titles in Writings
The rules for capitalizing a job title are based on multiple factors. Though proper names are pretty much always capitalized, that isn’t always the case, however. Job title capitalization rules/requirements could vary based on the placement of the title and their intended usage.
Before a Name
If you are referring to or addressing a person holding an esteemed title such as Dr. or Professor, capitalize their title when you place it before their name – for instance, Dr. Scott or Professor Marcus Finch. If you are simply describing their job and not directly addressing them by their professional designation, or the job title appears after the name of the individual, you may use lowercase. For example:
- Tim Scott is a wonderful doctor.
If the title gets used after the name, it’s almost never capitalized. For example:
- Martha Smith, chair of the board
- Gladden McMahon, junior clerk
When the title is used to directly address a person, it is capitalized. For example:
- Will he be able to come out of it, Doctor?
- I met the Prime Minister yesterday.
And when used in email signatures, the title after the name is capitalized.
When using your name to sign an email or a direct mail, capitalize your title along with the name. This gives your mails a professional and authoritative look.
To properly write your name and job title in your signature, first, write your name. Then follow it with a comma (,) and space, and later your job title. For example:
Joseph Brennan, Director of Sales”
You may also incorporate a line break between the two or put your name in one line and your title below it. For example:
Director of Sales
San Diego, CA 14515”
Some opt to capitalize only the first word of their job title in their signature. Though that’s not grammatically incorrect, it’s not recommended to do so. Even if your job title is extremely cheesy or unconventional, you still should consider capitalizing its mention in your email signatures.
Job Title Abbreviations
The job title capitalization rule applies to abbreviations as well. In other words, Governor Cooper could be written as “Gov. Cooper”. The abbreviated form is usually not used after the name of the person, however. The following, for example, is incorrect:
- Roy Cooper, gov., is in the house.
The job title usually should be written in full and in lowercase when it follows the name in a sentence.
As a Heading in a Resume
Job titles should be capitalized in a resume when used as headings. Capitalizing your current or previous job titles in the resume also indicates that you are proud of and seriously value the professional roles you held before and the one you are managing currently.
If you are constantly referring to your job titles in places other than header texts in your resume, use lowercase as too much emphasis on your titles would look odd and also come across as jarring. Here is an example demonstrating both:
“XYZ Airport, Airfield Operations Specialist
- As the airfield operations specialist, I helped bring new hires on board by offering them the necessary training and orientation.”
In most cases, for emphasis reasons, job titles can be capitalized in bullet point sentences in resumes.
In a Cover Letter
When putting together your cover letter, it’s not mandatory to capitalize the job title. You may capitalize the title or leave it in lowercase. Regardless of the route you take, ensure you’re consistent. In other words, do not alternate between the two at will or unintentionally. People who do capitalize their job titles in a cover letter do it to highlight the same.
If you’re not sure between capitalizing and not capitalizing your job title, look at the company’s job posting. If the designation is capitalized in the company’s texts, capitalize the title in your document too.
Rules for Capitalizing Job Titles
If you’re extremely unsure of capitalizing your job title, keep the following two rules in mind for increased clarity and guidance:
- Stay consistent with the capitalizing. Regardless of the document or context in which you capitalize your professional title, make sure you stick to it throughout. Proofread your texts to ensure consistency is maintained. Use Word’s Find and Replace tool (or similar feature in other word processors) to locate your job title and check for capitalization.
- The title should offer more information. If the job title is being used in a title, it should offer more information and not stop with just the designation and the person’s name. Generally, the place or organization where the individual is employed should immediately follow the title and name.
Example Sentences with Job Titles
Here are some example sentences that demonstrate when to and when not to capitalize job titles in writings:
- Professor Michaels is looking for her.
- Mr. Tony, vice president of sales, will be making a presentation today.
- Mrs. McCarthy, the chairwoman of Parfait Cakes, will be retiring by the end of this week.
- The chief editor, Todd Chang, received the pink slip.
- Did she see the King of Brunei during the celebrations?
- Can you name all UK prime ministers?
- What should she eat, Doctor?
- What are your thoughts on this, Minister?
- We would like you to respond, Mr. Prime Minister?
- The teacher asked his class to recite poems.
- The Dean was talking to her parents with purpose.
- The sales manager is Rodney Smith.
Job titles are integral to any industry. When looking for a new job, arguably the first thing the job seeker would want to know is the job title. Only then they would be keen to know about the salary, job location, etc. Hiring managers or job recruiters also pay increased attention to job titles when sifting through resumes or when creating a job description for an opening in their company or client’s business.
This significance of job titles should, therefore, reflect through writings. Capitalizing the titles is certainly one way of doing that. However, job titles need not be capitalized always. Based on where they are used and positioned, what they denote, the writing style guide, etc. determine whether they must be capitalized or written in lowercase instead.
Navigating the minefield of capitalization could be tough, but it’s so all worth it and rewarding in the end. After all, using proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation is the first and most important step toward creating your brand.