Time to lose the letters?

2 min read

Our secret columnist ponders the value of putting letters after your name

Some time ago I was reading a car magazine and found a letter suggesting that a court case should be brought against a car manufacturer.

The writer of the letter suggested that a certain well known reliability issue was unacceptable and that he was to act as an expert witness if owners wanted to bring the case. Knowing something about the subject I sent a letter explaining how and why these things happen. I was intrigued by the individual involved however. He had put a list of letters after his name, presumably to help validate his credentials as an expert witness. I recognised the letters that represented engineering institutions and chartered status, but there were more letters that I didn’t recognise.

It transpired that these were organisations for expert witnesses and with a bit more research I gathered that the individual was a founder member of an institution that provided some of the letters after his name.

I’ve always advocated the advantages of professional recognition…I struggle to sell it to people these days however.

More recently, a fellow I came into contact with at work sent me an e-mail. His signature was followed by a number of impressive looking post-nominal letters. In this case I couldn’t recognise any of them and an internet search also proved fruitless. I can only imagine that he believes that because he has completed a course or qualification he can add letters after his name. Having said that I’m not sure who decides what is allowed and what isn’t.

I’ve acted as a mentor to a few people that have become chartered over the years, and I’ve always advocated the advantages of professional recognition.  I struggle to sell it to people these days however. About the best I can manage is that if you applied for a job and the final choice was between you and an equally good candidate, but you are chartered and they aren’t, then it might just tip the balance in your favour.

It is true that there are a few industries where it matters, and there are a few companies that set professional recognition requirements against certain roles, but unless you are in those companies or industries (and they are rare in my experience) then it really doesn’t seem to be very beneficial.

I’ve almost certainly decided to ‘lose’ some of the letters after my name this year, as I can no longer justify the expense. Maybe I should start an Institute of Secret Engineer Reporters and then I could use the letters MISER. That would save me some money!