BFA # 028 | Does your title matter?

I didn't care about my title until something clicked

What's happening Fraud Fighters?

Have you ever felt like your fancy job title doesn't really capture what you do day-to-day? Or that leadership sees your role a bit differently than how you view it yourself?

The truth is, the labels we use to describe our professional identities shape how others perceive us - for better or worse.

Let's investigate further.

Read Time: ~4.05 Minutes

What we call ourselves matters

Now you may be thinking, shouldn’t my identity as a fraud fighter be the same as my official job title?

Your own concept of your role and capabilities may not fully align with your title. You likely identify as a fraud expert, regardless of whether your business card says Analyst, Manager, or Director. (does anyone have business cards anymore?)

Those outside the fraud fighting world don't have the same insider perspective. To them, your title is a major signal of your status and qualifications.

While you know yourself to be a skilled fraud fighter, others only see the surface level signals like job title. Using a title that undersells your experience can undermine how stakeholders perceive your expertise and clout in the industry.

It creates a mismatch between how you view your own standing and how others on the outside look at you. And unfortunately, external perceptions often become reality in terms of the level of respect and authority you're given.

The higher level of authority associated with a 'Chief' title versus a 'Manager' title lends itself to greater trust in judgment calls and strategic plans. It builds stakeholder confidence that you have the capability and experience to guide critical fraud programs.

I don’t care about titles, but you should.

Titles, titles, titles. I was on my third title in the past few months. It was like a flavor of the month club - a new title every month. Loss Prevention Specialist, Fraud Analyst, Risk Mitigation Specialist. You name it, I've been called it.

At first, I didn't think much of it. A title was just a title, right? Wrong. I failed to realize that my ever-changing job titles were a neon, flashing signal that no one - not even my own leadership - understood the scope of my role.

This painful truth became clear during two pivotal moments. The first was when I asked for a raise. I had taken on more responsibilities and expanded my impact, so I felt a bump in pay was warranted.

My request was quickly dismissed with a "Sorry, that's just not in the budget right now." Ouch.

The second moment of clarity came when I requested additional headcount for my team of one. My workload had grown exponentially, and I desperately needed more hands.

Yet again, I was met with a swift "No." No discussion, no compromise.

It finally clicked that my flavor of the month titles had shaped my leaders' perspective - they had no idea the complexity and importance of my fraud-fighting responsibilities. And their foggy view of my role was directly impacting their decisions about my budget and resources.

I had unintentionally downplayed my own value.

A bad title leads to endless misconceptions

It felt like I was moving up and taking on more responsibility. But in reality, my core duties stayed largely the same. And all those new titles led to some frustrating disconnects.

Leadership didn't really understand my day-to-day impact or how I contributed to the company's bottom line. Whenever I proposed new fraud initiatives, I'd often hear "Interesting idea, but how does this fit into your role exactly?"

My colleagues were constantly unsure of my expertise and who to turn to for help with fraud-related issues.

"Wait, are you still our go-to for chargeback disputes?" they'd ask. "Or was that part of your old job?"

Turns out, my ever-changing titles were creating all kinds of confusion about my responsibilities and our team's purpose. And that lack of clarity was hurting our ability to collaborate and move the needle fighting fraud.

Took longer than I’d like to admit before I realized how essential it is to have titles that accurately reflect your position and value. The right title clears up confusion, sets proper expectations, and helps leadership see your core contributions.

So these days, I'm much more thoughtful about how I label myself and our fraud fighters.

Use your title as a tool for leverage

Organizational politics and hierarchical structures can significantly complicate the process of using your title to influence leadership decisions.

I can spit out generic theory of how to leverage your title to influence leadership decisions. But we all know, that’s not really how it works.

So with that in mind we have to get crafty…

How can you leverage your title to influence leadership decisions?

  1. Align title with responsibilities: You know what you do, but does your title say it? Make sure it paints the right picture, showing that you have the chops to handle big projects.

  2. Understand your title's weight: Think about how people see your title. It's more than a name - it’s your professional brand. Use it wisely to back up what you say and do.

  3. Navigate the politics: Office politics, right? It’s about knowing who's who and what's what. Figure out the lay of the land to make your title work for you.

  4. Build relationships: Titles are nice, but connections matter more. Spend time getting to know people. Genuine relationships can open doors that titles alone can't.

  5. Demonstrate value beyond title: Show them what you've got. Consistently knock it out of the park, and you’ll become influential, title or not.

  6. Find allies and champions: Ever feel like you need a team behind you? Find those key players who'll back you up. Their support can make all the difference.

  7. Be mindful of timing: Timing is everything. Know when to make your move and when to hold back. Align with what's happening around you, and you’ll find the sweet spot.

  8. Understand unwritten rules: You know those rules that nobody talks about but everybody follows? Get to know them. They can make or break your ability to sway decisions.

  9. Focus on common goals: Speak their language. Frame your ideas in ways that resonate with the goals of the organization. It makes your proposals that much more compelling.

  10. Emphasize collaboration: Play nice with others. Collaboration beats confrontation any day. Partner up, and you'll navigate through the maze that much easier.

  11. Manage perceptions carefully: Image matters. How people see you and your title can be a fine dance. Keep it graceful, with a touch of subtlety and savvy.

  12. Be resilient and persistent: Not every swing is a hit, especially in a tough political game. Learn, adapt, and keep swinging. Your next big win might be just around the corner.

TLDR;

  1. Align Title with Responsibilities

  2. Understand Your Title's Weight

  3. Navigate the Politics

  4. Build Relationships

  5. Demonstrate Value Beyond Title

  6. Find Allies and Champions

  7. Be Mindful of Timing

  8. Understand Unwritten Rules

  9. Focus on Common Goals

  10. Emphasize Collaboration

  11. Manage Perceptions Carefully

  12. Be Resilient and Persistent

That’s it

See you again next Friday in your inbox.

​Brian

ps… If you’re enjoying Bad Fraud Advice, will you take 6 seconds and forward this edition to a friend? It goes a long way in helping grow the newsletter (and bring more and more fraud fighters into the world).

→ Today's action step: Read back through this issue and figure out where you’re at. Find the relevant suggestions I laid out and choose just one to move forward with next week.

 

If you’re looking to build your career, I hope this can be a resource for you:

  1. that fraud Job Board: Have you ever wondered why there are no fraud and trust & safety job boards? Build the fraud career you deserve with job board and career resources. ps we’re going to be making some changes to the site soon.

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