The Title Snob

I’m an executive assistant but I’ve had many jobs and titles in my working career – book keeper, office manager, substitute teacher, sole proprietor, author – and out of all of these, next to author, I think I love being an assistant the most.  I’ve thought about applying for a new position occasionally, and I once did a six month stint in Public Relations.  I thought I would get to do some writing.  Instead I pulled news paper articles others had written and proofread items someone else created.  I was happy to become an executive assistant again. 

During my years in this position I’ve had good bosses and bad bosses.

I’ve worked with great leaders, and with those who had no concept of what it means to lead.  I’ve had bosses who depended on my assistance and those who saw me as a necessary component but had no idea what my function was.  Out of all of these types, the hardest of all to work with is a Title Snob. 


This is someone who decides simply because of my title I must be (a) uneducated and (b) unintelligent.  It’s disappointing.  We have become a society where the value we place on others depends on their degree and their job title.  We care nothing for experience, skills, and knowledge. 

While this is something I’ve dealt with for much of my career, it was never more apparent than just this week.  If you follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn you know that I just published my first novel.  It’s a very personal book dealing with my father’s alcoholism.  It’s not a best seller, but it is getting good reviews.

This week my immediate boss Jack was talking to his deputy, Al about producing another issue of our investigative publication high lighting some of our most interesting cases.  We’ve produced this publication twice before, but that was under Al's predecessor.  I acted as Copy Editor on both publications and we also worked with a writer from another component.  She actually did the layout and insertion of photos and word boxes, not the writing or editing.

When Jack talked to Al about tackling another issue, he seemed enthusiastic at first.  They discussed possible cases to include and the length and layout.  Then Al pointed out that the writer that had assisted on previous publications was no longer available to help with a new edition.  My boss told him he could work with me, that I had been the copy editor and had shortened and tightened up all the articles in the previous editions.

To his shock, he hit a stone wall.

Al was highly resistant to the idea of working with me.  Jack reminded him that I had just published a book.  Al still hesitated and refused to commit.

Only later while Jack and I were talking did it fully hit him why Al was being so obstinate.  I know in the past when I complained about getting no respect from some staff simply because of the position I work in, Jack thought I was being too sensitive.  Now he had seen it firsthand and he was surprised.    While Jack believes in education, (as do I!) neither of us believes it is the only measure of someone’s knowledge and abilities.  We both felt that most of our staff saw the positive qualities in me that he sees.

We were both wrong.  But I was pleased that he finally understood what it means to feel discrimination just because of the work I do.  Jack had finally seen a ‘Title Snob’ first hand!  This was a good reminder for both of us to not judge others by the degree or job title after their name.  Some of us are self-taught, with above average intelligence, even if we are ‘just’ an executive assistant, or a janitor, or a truck driverMany of us love these positions, even if others undervalue them.

So don’t be a Title Snob.

Editor's Note:   I was so honored when Sharon said she'd guest blog. Here is a radio interview with her on her latest book.  Anyone who publishes a book AND works for the US government is a double hero in my book.  Way to go Sharon!

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