Boost Your Career by Negotiating Your Job Title

You’ve discussed salary and 401K. You’ve reviewed vacation time, flex time, health, optical and dental insurance. But have you talked about an important aspect of your job offer that many candidates overlook: the job title?

While contemplating a job offer, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a new position at a new company, and of course a new paycheck – and you might forget that your job title is sometimes negotiable. So before you skip right over those words that are going to be a permanent part of your business cards, email signature (and your resume!)… stop and think for a minute.

Here’s why…

Job Titles Affect How Others View You

Let’s face it: titles do have an impact on the way we view each other in the work place. They communicate your expertise, level of authority, and role as a decision-make within the company. So take some time to analyze your prospective title. Does it really encompass the position’s current or future responsibilities, as well as your level of experience? Does the title include outdated words? Will it look good compared to others already on your resume?

If you have more knowledge and industry background than the title suggests, or the current title doesn’t reflect a future shift in the position or your career path, it’s time to negotiate.

Find, or create, several options that make you comfortable, and present them to the hiring manager. Include concrete reasons why you feel they’re appropriate. Remember, this new title will set the tone not just with clients, vendors, and customers, but also with your future colleagues. (I once hired someone who negotiated for a stronger title that was a better fit for what she brought to the company; as a result, she earned respect for sticking to her guns and fighting for what she was worth.)

Job Title Negotiation as Strategy

You’ve applied at a company – and you’d jump over the moon to work for them. The position is what you want, and the flex time is perfect. Unfortunately, your potential employer runs a non-profit and can’t offer you the exact salary you’d like.

Instead of giving up on the offer, use the job title as a place to negotiate. Review the job qualifications again and compare them to your experience. Then see what other titles are being used by colleagues in your field. Suggest a title tweak as a way to come to a compromise—perhaps instead of Social Media Specialist, you become the Social Media Manager or Strategist. Or instead of Human Resources Assistant, you’d be the Senior Human Resources Associate. These may seem like subtle shifts, but they can make a huge difference in future job opportunities and salaries. Which brings me to my next point …

Your Job Title Can Translate Into Future Earnings

Building a career and salary history doesn’t happen in one giant leap.  They increase in a series of steps over time; each of your job titles are important building blocks for positions and salaries you want to reach later.

Think about it this way: if you take a new job, chances are you’re most likely increasing your paycheck. If you lobby for a stronger title as well, you’re not only increasing your immediate take-away, but your long-term earnings also. That title just will be worth way more to you when you move to your next job. By negotiating a “ladder climbing” title, instead of taking baby steps towards your ideal position and salary, you’ll be leapfrogging towards your end goal!

Have you ever negotiated for a better job title? Did it work? Tell us what you think!

About the Author: Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Noël writes and edits the career and education blog, myPathfinder and is passionate about using these technologies to help students and job seekers alike find the degree program or career that is right for them.

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  • Anonymous

    Great article and excellent strategy for career success! My last job came with a title that didn’t reflect my experience or the actual duties of the job. Unfortunately my attempts to negotiate new job title during my 90 day review didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, and I wished I had spoken up about the job title and outdated description much sooner.

    The downside of having a job title that didn’t fit the job, or my skills, came when my employer was acquired by another company and I was offered a lower tier position at the new company based on an inaccurate job title and description. Fortunately another position was needed and I was able to start in a position that was better suited to my skills and experience.

  • Kiren

    great article!

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