5 Tips For Negotiating a Better Job Title

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Your job title matters. A lot. It impacts your current professional standing and the opportunities that could become available to you in the future. But it’s not easy to know how to go about getting the job title you want and deserve.

Wanting to change your job title is a little different than gunning for a promotion. It might not be new responsibilities that you’re after, or even more money. Sometimes, a new job title is appropriate because you’re already doing the work that the new title implies. It’s also the kind of thing that can have a big impact on your career trajectory. And it certainly affect pay, both now and in the future. So, here are some tips for getting that new job title.

1. Understand why it’s so important

Whether you’re starting a new job or just looking to change official titles in your current position, it pays (quite literally) to go after the best possible job title you can get. Keep in mind that your title doesn’t just impact your professional standing and mobility at your current place of employment. It also lays the groundwork for your position with any other company you might work with in the future.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Whether you’re starting a new job or just looking to change titles where you are, it pays (quite literally) to go after the best title you can get. It lays the groundwork for a position with any company you might work with in the future.” quote=”Whether you’re starting a new job or just looking to change titles where you are, it pays (quite literally) to go after the best title you can get. It lays the groundwork for a position with any company you might work with in the future.”]

In a sense, your job title is the way you introduce yourself in the professional world. You don’t always have the time to explain all your responsibilities and duties. You can’t quickly communicate to others how essential you are at your organization. Your job title is meant to do that. So, it’s really very important. Understanding that is the first step in getting the title you deserve.

2. Do your homework and provide options

You’ll need to do some homework in order to fully hone in on the job title that’s right for you. Websites like LinkedIn or PayScale can be great resources. Take your time and look at the titles of some of your peers at different companies. Some of what you find will be traditional, and you’ll likely also come across some alternative titles. Consider both, and your company’s culture, to decide what’s right for you. You also might want to consider bringing a few different options to the negotiation table. Also, be respectful of the way your organization is structured when making your request.

“In every organization there is a hierarchy. And your title needs to provide information about your leaves within it,” Margaret Neale, author, and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, told HBR. So, when asking for a more “avant-garde title” she recommends that you “make sure you have a more traditional equivalent.”

3. Clearly articulate why the change is necessary

You’ll want to present a good rationale for asking for this change, especially if your new title is meant to have words like “director” or “senior” added to it. Barbara Wally, a negotiation coach, mediator, and lawyer, says that employees have the best chance of getting the change they seek when they’re sort of between two different roles or titles at the company.

“A company may be more willing to give a title bump without a salary bump in this context,” Wally explained in an interview with MEL. “Having that more senior title is indeed likely to be helpful for future titles and pay at future jobs.”

Be sure to prepare a detailed, clear and thorough list of your job responsibilities. Go over them and discuss how your role at the company is changing. You simply want a job title that fairly reflects your contribution.

4. Don’t spring the conversation on anyone

You’ll want to schedule a meeting to discuss this change. You don’t want to spring the question on the higher-ups when they’re not feeling prepared. Their first instinctual response might not be the one you’re after.

Instead, be upfront and honest right from the beginning. Say that you’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss your current job title and your future at the company. Explain that it will just take a few minutes and that you’re looking forward to the conversation. This openness and honesty helps to get the process started in the right way. Plus, no one likes to feel blindsided.

5. You’ve found a solution, not a problem

When you do sit down to talk about your request for a new job title, be sure to have the right attitude. You might not score many points by talking about how your current job title isn’t fair and how you deserve another one. Instead, present this as the solution not the problem.

You might talk about how you’ve thought of a way you can move forward in the organization without needing a raise in the immediate future. Everyone knows that your job duties have begun to extend far beyond your title – changing your title is a way to make that right without costing the company anything. Circumstances vary, of course, from organization to organization, but the key here is to frame the discussion positively. Be sure to articulate the ways the change would help you to feel even more empowered to continue to do your best work for the organization for years to come.

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