Watch Your Language: Regional Differences And Careers

Recently while helping a friend look for work, I had a strange experience where a recruiter vastly underestimated their skillset.  I was trying to think why this would happen – and then realized it was a regional difference as the person and the recruiter were nearly on different coasts.  In this case it was a Silicon Valley recruiter mistaking some communication experience for “just another tech writer.”

The more I thought this over, the more it intrigued me, and the more I looked into it, the more I realized that if you’re doing a job search, the ways you describe yourself and even your title can vary from region to region and even coast to coast:

  • The titles can be completely different from jobs.  Words like “publishing” and “engineer” can have widely ranging meanings.  In fact I got called on this a few times – “Programmer” is a term that isn’t considered very encompassing for most software engineers/developers and can even seem insulting.
  • Titles can vary not just in region but also “how deep” you are in a large corporate structure.  What is “editing” in one profession is “communication management” elsewhere.
  • The “core skill” of a profession can vary by what it’s called from region to region as well.  An “artist” in some technical regions is assumed to have pretty advanced digital skills.  I suppose in some regions an artist would nearly be a Programmer . . . er, Engineer . . . er, you get the idea.

If you’re on a job search where a regional change is in order, check your language to make sure you’re not sabotaging your own job search.  A few suggestions:

  • Search job boards in a region but use single words related to your job – coding, art, graphics, editing, marketing, etc.  See what jobs come up and read the descriptions to see which ones fit you – and see what titles you fine.
  • Ask someone that lives in the region on terminology or have them introduce you to someone.

So moving?  Start checking your language out to see if you’re sabotaging yourself.

– Steven Savage
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at