The answer is an emphatic YES. As a matter of fact, they matter more than the job description. Period. This is true for two main reasons, the first is in the way machines handle the search queries and the second is how humans scan and review results.
The goal of the job title is to show up in results for the right candidates while engaging them enough to click through and review the rest of the job description. You need to strike a careful balance to satisfy both kings. Stuffing the job posting title with too many keywords (to show up in more results) can lead to lower engagement from candidate who are reviewing the search results. The opposite is also true, being too ambiguous or clever in the the job posting title can land you at the bottom of search results where your exposer to a candidate pool is diminished.
Strike a Balance
The major search engines place a higher value on keywords that in the job posting title vs the job description. You should be able to distill the requirements for the role down to a few keywords that relate to the role. Additionally, adding in some information that speaks to the jobs uniqueness engages users; “this is a job for me” vs. “this is a job for anyone.” Do a search on a few jobs boards and see how many job posting titles are exactly the same. With a little effort you will be able to improve you candidate quality and quantity.
Title: Software Engineer II <- Boring and lacks skills necessary for the job
Title: Software Engineer – PHP/MYSQL New Product <- provides some additional keywords and tells them that they will be working on something exciting and new.
Title: Software Engineer – PHP/MYSQL New Product – San Diego <- Adding a location in the job posting title helps with search query scoring and gives the user some important information. (our CatalystFive job posting software helps you automatically build job titles and tweets!)
You should spend 5 to 10 minutes on creating a job title that engages the user and improves search results. This is time well spent and should help improve your process!