Negative Impact of ‘Senior’ in Financial Analyst Titles

Does including 'Senior' in the title of a job post for a financial analyst position negatively impact the candidate pool?

Overqualifying a position by including the word Senior in the title on a job post can shrink your candidate pool, regardless of the requirements. Because job seekers use the title to help gauge whether they should apply and may question whether they’re Senior. But does that hold true for financial analyst titles? 

It’s oddly specific, but we kept hearing questions about this from some of our customers based in the United States. Enough that we started to wonder if industry norms on financial analyst titles had changed. So we did what we often do when we have questions: We looked at the data.

What does overqualifying a role mean, anyway?

Overqualifying a role can mean giving it a title that seems more senior than the requirements imply (title inflation). It can also mean asking for non-standard requirements or requirements that don’t fit the job market. (For example, a tech job in San Francisco, where the candidate pool is large and differentiated, can ask for different requirements than a tech job in Boise.) Overqualifying a role can deter qualified candidates from applying and reduce your candidate pool overall. (For example, overqualified roles tend to attract fewer women.)

Where we started our financial analyst research

What are the industry norms around financial analyst titles in the United States? How many years of experience do organizations typically require for the roles? And where and when does Senior appear in financial analyst titles?

These questions were our starting point. To answer them, we looked into what U.S.-based companies say about these roles and also how they act regarding these roles. 

What companies say

What companies in the U.S. say depends on who’s speaking. Some companies think of a Senior Financial Analyst position as a junior role. Others think of Financial Analyst as a mid-level role and Senior Financial Analyst as a senior role

What companies do

How companies in the U.S. act regarding these roles is something else. To figure that out, we analyzed current and historic trends in job posts. 

We found that companies use Senior in over half of all titles for financial analyst roles that require less than three years of experience, such as Senior Associate. (Less than three years of experience suggests a junior role.) We also found that less than one percent of job posts for Senior Financial Analyst roles require more than eight years of experience, such as Senior Analyst. (Less than eight years of experience suggests junior or mid-level.) Taken together, these suggest that companies are inflating titles.

What we found in our financial analyst research

So, how does including Senior in financial analyst titles impact the size, quality, and diversity of candidate pools? 

To figure that out, we collected recruiting process data for financial analyst roles in the United States. We filtered out requisitions with low data integrity such as evergreen roles (requisitions that hiring teams leave open indefinitely). And we adjusted for variables that can impact candidate pool size such as job market, company attributes, and required experience level. Then we compared jobs with Senior in the title to those without. 

We found that including Senior negatively impacts the top of the talent funnel. Compared to jobs without, roles with Senior in the title receive on average:

  • 29% fewer applicants
  • 39% fewer qualified applicants
  • 27% fewer female applicants

(Again, overqualifying a role can decrease the number of female applicants.) 

Avoid Senior in financial analyst titles

The impact is clear. But what does that mean for hiring teams, especially those working at companies with strict internal ladders that use Senior as a way to level up a role? Not to worry, it’s relatively easy to get around the problem. You can actually use any title you want internally, just so long as you avoid using Senior in the title on your external job posts. And you don’t replace Senior with something confusing or vague like corporate jargon.

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