Why the titles Mrs, Ms, and Miss matters in job applications for females.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst


When applying for job advertisements or just submitting an expression of interest to an organization for any employment opportunities it is important to prepare your CV well. Remember, your CV represents you and tells your story to the people who are screening your application. Therefore, you as an applicant has a duty to make your story clearer and leave no room for them to develop assumptions. Once, are so clear about you by going through your CV, they can make the choice whether to shortlist you for interview or not. If the CV leaves them with more assumptions, the chance of you being shortlisted for interview is reduced and most cases, you might not get the interview spot.

Titles Mrs, Ms,Miss mean to potential employers.

One piece of information that leaves a lot of assumption and in a way disadvantage many female applicants is their title. It is unfortunate English language has three titles for females and only one title for males. The titles Mrs, Ms, Miss all relate to the martial relationship status of a female. For male, Mr. title simply means gender than marital relationship.  So the titles a female applicant has on her CV represents a marital relationship status and employers do pay attention to it. What the female titles mean as are as follows;

  1. Mrs.– Means she is married and living with a husband
  2. Ms-Mean she has some sort of relationship but currently unattached to be formally addressed as Mrs.
  3. Miss-Mean young and unmarried status.

In typical job application process, marital relationship status of a male is often confirmed during interview. Unfortunately, for females it’s communicated by the title on the CV and validated during the interview.

The importance of marital relationship status to employers

During the screening process of job applicants, employers are not only looking at skills sets and job experience but also commitment to work, leadership, staff development for future human resources and etc. So martial relationship is an important factor. For example, if a candidate has a Miss title, can mean that she has potential for work commitment with less family responsibilities, can be put through staff development for future leadership roles, reduced family benefit related expenses such as housing, family leave fare, school fees and etc. Family benefits are costs to the organization, particularly private sector organizations.

If a female has Mrs. title, employers then employers think of family support, commitment to work as most people work to support family needs. Potential to provide support and mentor to young employees in leadership roles and etc.

If a female has Ms title, then there is element of risks arises for employers they have to weigh out. For example, if a candidate is not living with her husband but have custody of her children, then she might be committed to work as being a bread winner for the family but risk of balancing work and family responsibilities might burden her is real.

So the title Ms rises a lot of risk factors for the employer to consider. In most cases, employers tend to look at the candidates past employment record on the CV. If the she has spent a lot of  longer period with the previous employers, it’s a sign of commitment and less periods mean disturbances to her work duties.

Tips for candidates with Ms. Title

When applying for the position, the first goal is to get shortlisted for interview. So to get into the list of shortlisted, the following can help;

  1. Clarify your marital status in the application. Either in the CV or on the cover letter. You don’t need to be too detail about it but just a brief of the status. Who knows, somebody in the team screening your application may have gone through the same experience and relate to your situation. If you living by yourself or with family, indicate it.
  2. State your reasons why you need the job and you applied. At least they know your reasons for applications when they assess the risks of your relationship status.
  3. If you haven’t stayed longer in previous employment, give them the reasons. Maybe, the previous employer wasn’t a good employer and you left. Don’t let them guess why you stayed less time in the previous employments.

To sum, female titles are not just gender titles but relationship status as well. So when applying, leave no room for employers to guess. Aim to getting your name on the shortlist for interview first.