As companies look to attract employees, some are inflating job titles to appeal to potential candidates. A recent analysis conducted by LinkUp, a global job-market data and analytics firm, found that before the pandemic, 3.9% of job listings had “senior” in the title; in spring 2022, that number grew to 6.2%, Bloomberg reported. However, the actual job responsibilities may not match up with the advanced titles, which can end up crushing the egos of new hires, the news site explained.
In addition to using high titles to attract employees, some employers may use the same tactic to retain current employees by offering title changes — sometimes in lieu of a raise.
Is it worth it to take a job with a fancy-sounding title if it doesn’t necessarily have the responsibilities or pay to match? To find out the inherent value of a job title, GOBankingRates spoke to career experts to get their takes. Here’s what they had to say.
A Higher Job Title Can Be More Valuable Than Higher Pay
A job title upgrade can be worth more than a salary increase if you are planning to go on the job hunt in the near future.
“I’ve seen people negotiate a title change for that exact purpose,” said Bill Catlette, executive coach and partner at Contented Cow Partners. “More truthfully, I’ve done it. I negotiated a title upgrade and small pay change immediately prior to initiating a job search, and wound up becoming the then-youngest managing director at a very successful startup.”
Darcy Eikenberg, executive coach and author of “Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job,” notes that in the case of a job title, “words have power.”
“There are definitely times when titles still matter, especially in a digital world when you’re not around to explain them, such as when a recruiter is looking at your LinkedIn profile,” she said. “While the titles may seem meaningless internally, they can communicate a shorthand to the outside world — for example, a VP is typically more experienced than a supervisor. Human beings crave clarity and titles can sometimes offer that. Certain titles carry a certain weight — they’re a tool you can use to pave the way to future opportunities.”
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Job Titles Often Supercede Other Factors When Determining Pay
When a company determines your compensation, it is often based primarily on the job title.
“Many salary comparisons that companies use to price jobs are based on titles, not necessarily years of experience or even results created,” Eikenberg said.
Because of this, job titles often impact your future earnings, so it may be worth it to accept a title change without a raise.
“If you receive a job title change without a pay raise, your career can still benefit when you move to a different company,” said Dave Rietsema, professional in human resources, Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional and founder and CEO of Matchr.com. “Your job title can help to determine what future jobs you’re eligible for and what salary you can negotiate. Better job titles may also come with better pay, but many people are willing to trade part of their current salary for a job title because of the future salary benefits it could bring.
“Whether the job title or increased pay is more important depends on your needs in both the short-term and the long-term,” he continued. “A larger salary now may also mean a larger salary later because a hiring company may ask what you were making before.”
While a Job Title Has Value, There May Be Other Things You Value More
In a job market where some companies are inflating titles, you may not get all of the responsibilities typically associated with the role, which may lead you to feel unfulfilled or bored in the role. You may be able to feel just as fulfilled or even more so in a role with a lower job title if you take the initiative to go above and beyond.
“Early in my career, I believed a job title was important. Then I learned a valuable lesson — everyone can be a leader,” said Michael Gibbs, CEO of Go Cloud Careers. “Then I learned, if someone acts like a leader, learns to influence others, learns to lead and learns how to bring out the best in others, they become the leader.”
A higher job title may also not be a good substitute for higher pay, especially if you are expected to take on more work and responsibility in the new role.
“We would never advocate accepting a new position with greater responsibility without a commensurate pay rise to go with it,” said Nabila Salem, president at Revolent, which specializes in cloud talent creation. “It’s always fantastic to know that your employer believes in your abilities and wants to entrust more to you, but for that to be a meaningful and respectful gesture, it needs to be accompanied by appropriate compensation for your time, energy and skills.”
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