Role Analysis: Why Employers Should Normalize Job Titles

Published on Feb 3, 2021

Updated on Jul 13, 2023

Written by Haley Yamane Melhart

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In a world where there are multiple job titles for (relatively) the same position, things can get chaotic quickly. What one company calls a “product specialist” might be a “product analyst” (or the more quirky “product ninja”) to another. Unique job titles are great, but given the wildly diverse terminology, they can complicate how companies advertise open positions, compare their skills to industry benchmarks, and track employee skills (and skills gaps). 

What it means to normalize titles for role analysis

To normalize job titles is to capture the chaos. 

Job title normalization is the process of translating your internal language to the outside world. When your titles are normalized, they become the most relevant, utilized terminology across the industry—giving your team the clearest lens for role analysis. 

Lightcast hosts the most comprehensive library of titles built from and connected to our entire data ecosystem. 

We continuously collect and analyze millions of titles from job postings, resumes, and profile data. This collection allows us to compare job title trends, commonalities, and outliers across individual industries and determine what the normalized job title would be for any given role. 

Simply put, Lightcast Titles reflect what jobs are actually called, because they are based on real job titles.

How job title normalization works

Normalization includes government taxonomies like Standard Occupation Codes (SOC) and O*NET. If you want to benchmark your roles against government data, one of these codes must be present in your titles. 

That’s where we come in. 

LIghtcast’s aggregate posting and profile data is tagged with SOC and O*NET codes, so we can associate the most common codes to job titles (and vice versa), giving you comprehensive information for your own role analysis.

The best part?

By normalizing your job titles, you don’t actually have to change them. That’s right. You can keep your retail wizards, digital overlords, and marketing rockstars as is—Lightcast simply associates a tag (translation layer) with each job title so that you still get the optimized reports and up-to-date information moving forward. 

What are the benefits of normalizing job titles for role analysis?

Normalized job titles help all kinds of talent analytics strategies and goals. Here are some examples:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Map internal DEI metrics to external benchmarks 

  • Compare target markets

Talent Mobility

  • Compare your mobility patterns to competitors or trends in the market

  • Benchmark and track the top skills for specific roles

Skills Strategy

  • Leverage the most current and consistent library of skills out there (updated every 2 weeks) 

  • Access a common language to break roles and talent down to core building blocks and add skill profiles to your job descriptions

Talent Acquisition

  • Optimize job postings using data-driven recommendations 

  • Analyze occupational trends and related job titles

Workforce Planning 

  • Compare roles and identify skills gaps or overlap

  • Assess the availability of skills and talent in key markets

Putting role analysis to practice

Let’s say you work in HR and have been tasked with hiring a “marketing director.” You have the most recently-used job description in hand and are about to share it with the world. 

But wait!

How do you know that “marketing director ” is the most accurate representation of the role? Have the salary expectations for that title changed since you last advertised for it? How are your competitors advertising for similar roles?

This is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of insights provided by job title normalization so that you can get answers to those burning questions.

Continuing with this example, let’s say you do analyze the information provided from the job title normalization process and gain the following takeaways: 

  • After reviewing titles and key skills, “creative director” is more representative of what you’re looking for.

  • The going salary for that role is more competitive than you thought, so you might want to up your offer. 

  • Competitors are requiring fewer skills for this role than you are, so you should simplify the qualifications to attract more candidates. 

Just like that, you’ve optimized your talent-seeking process by: 

  • Using objective, reliable information

  • Strengthening your job description

  • Saving time and resources 

  • Providing the most accurate (and fair) information to candidates 

  • Focusing on the skills that matter most

It’s all about (making) connections.

Normalizing your titles helps you identify areas for improvement and plan for the future. That’s what role analysis is all about. The possibilities are endless and partner opportunities can take this process even further for people analytics.

Curious to learn more about skills and how job title normalization works? Fill out the form below to talk to our experts!