Starting a New Job

Negotiating a Job Title: Reasons, Tips and How To Make Your Pitch

August 19, 2021

Once you've received a job offer, the employer might offer you a chance to negotiate the terms of the agreement. One object of the negotiation is the job title, which can influence how professionals in your industry and future employers define your role. Learning how to negotiate your job title can help you preserve good standing with the employer and accomplish your needs for your new position. In this article, we discuss reasons to request changes to your job title and steps and tips for formatting your proposal.

What is a job title?

A job title is the name of your work position. It defines your role in the professional environment, indicating your specialty or rank in the organizational hierarchy. For example, if your job title is 'software development manager,' then your coworkers can conclude you specialize in software design and supervise a team of developers. Employees often display their job titles on their business cards and email signatures, and they might use them to introduce themselves when networking with other professionals in their fields. During the recruitment process, job candidates may negotiate their job titles with the hiring manager before they accept an offer.

Reasons to ask for better job titles

Before you agree to work for a company, it's essential that you're comfortable with your role, including its title. The name of your role can impact your professional connections and future job searches. Here are reasons you might negotiate your job title:

Improve communication in the workplace

As a new employee, one way to build connections with your coworkers is to discuss your position in the company. If someone wants to collaborate with you, they can use your job title to learn about your responsibilities. Adorning a straightforward job title can make workplace communication more seamless.

For example, you design computer hardware for a technology company, but your job title is 'engineer' instead of 'computer hardware engineer.' When your colleagues peruse the employee directory, they are unsure of the type of products you produce. Consider negotiating a job title that can make it easier to form your professional identity.

Impress hiring managers who read your resume

Resumes typically showcase your employment history, including the job titles of your previous roles. Recruiters may skim your resume to determine if you're qualified for a position, which means you need something to capture their attention so they examine your credentials more closely. If your job title reflects your experience in the industry, you can better communicate your expertise on your resume. Also, companies often use similar terms to describe roles in the same field, which is why it can be beneficial to incorporate the same keywords so your resume can pass the pre-screening process.

For example, suppose you receive a job offer to create and manage content for social media platforms. Instead of the title 'social media content creator' or 'social media manager,' the initial job title is 'coordinator.' If you used that name on your resume for future employment opportunities, the hiring manager may not discern that you're proficient in social media. To provide clarification, you negotiate your job title to be more recognizable to other professionals in your field.

Related: 6 Differences Between Occupation and Job Title

Receive a higher salary

The name of your position can also influence your income level. If a company has several employees within the same department, it might attach names that indicate the level of seniority. For example, a 'senior' associate might earn a higher salary than a 'junior' associate. Similarly, a 'full' professor might have more earning potential than an 'associate' or 'assistant' professor. You can request the company to change your title to illustrate leadership in an organization or a highly technical skill, which can help you bargain for a higher salary for future job offers.

When to negotiate a job title

Bargaining for a new job title typically takes place in the closing phase of the hiring and recruitment process. If you would like the employer to revisit the name of your position, it might be beneficial to wait until after you receive an official job offer. You can be sure the employer wants you to work at the organization, which presents an opportunity for you to request changes to make you more comfortable with your new role.

Select a time to meet with the hiring manager before you sign the offer letter, which can allow the employer to reflect the changes on the document if necessary. It's important for you to express your concerns while there is still time to adjust the offer. For example, if the employer wants to announce your onboarding publicly, then they have the right credentials to publish. The period before your first day at the company might be the most convenient.

Related: How To Negotiate at Every Stage of Your Career

How to negotiate for a better job title

To prepare and speak with the employer about a better job title, take the following steps:

1. Think about the culture of the company

The organizational culture can offer insight into the employer's willingness to accept your request. Some companies may name their positions to coincide with their brand or values. Review the job titles of your colleagues to identify patterns. For example, cashiers in a department store might have the title 'team member' to indicate their collaboration to reach sales goals. If you're fulfilling the same position, then you can structure your request to explain why your title can be different.

2. Research what your new job title should be

The second step is to determine the replacement for your job title on your offer letter. Conduct research to learn how your industry refers to professionals in the same role. You can use the job description to help you select a potential name. For example, if the employer requires you to answer a customer's questions and resolve their issues during a phone call, then an appropriate job title might be 'call center customer service representative.' Having evidence to justify your proposal for a name change can help convince the hiring manager to honor your request. Use a title that illustrates your contributions to the field and looks attractive on your resume.

3. Outline your pitch

Once you've decided on your name replacement, you can prepare your pitch to persuade the hiring manager. Use information from your research to support your argument. When strategizing what to say in the meeting, ask yourself these questions:

  • What about the job title would I like to change?
  • How would the name change benefit the employer?
  • How would the name change make it easier for me to perform my job effectively?
  • What can I say to convince my boss to agree to the name change?

4. Convey your desire to the employer

The final step is to enter negotiations with the hiring manager about changing the job title. Acknowledge how you want to start the conversation. For instance, the employer may ask you if you're comfortable with the terms of the job offer, which presents an opening for you to make your pitch. Contemplate asking if there is a possibility to edit the job title to your liking. The employer might respond with their flexibility to consider your concerns or the reasons for their chosen name for the position. Gauge their responses to guide you through reciting your pitch.

Related: 15 Tips for Negotiating a Contract

Tips for negotiating a job title

For additional information on asking your employer to change your job title, consider these three tips:

Practice the delivery of your pitch

Rehearse your pitch to ensure you communicate all the details to help the employer make a decision in your favor. Contemplate the details you want to mention first. For example, you might explain your research and how you feel your preferred title is more reflective of your occupational duties. It might also be helpful to practice the tone of your voice. Using a friendly tone can keep the conversation pleasant, while also being firm can show the employer you're serious about your request. Choose a delivery method that can convey professionalism.

Another way to practice is to recite your pitch while looking in the mirror. Observe your nonverbal cues, such as eye contact and hand gestures, which can illustrate confidence. Consider asking a friend or family member to pose as the hiring manager and allow you to rehearse your pitch. You can also record a video of your rehearsal and watch your performance to identify ways to improve. The purpose of practicing your delivery is to prepare yourself for persuading the employer and reacting to their response.

Emphasize your appreciation for the job offer

Before you make your request, emphasize your enthusiasm for working at the company. Showing the employer that you appreciate the offer can establish a positive tone for the conversation, which can be beneficial if you anticipate resistance to your proposal. Appreciation can also help you remain humble in your approach. You can assure the hiring manager you're comfortable with the job itself and want to help the organization accomplish its goals, but you would like to discuss the name of the position before proceeding further.

Related: Understanding the Process of Negotiation

Prepare for their response

Maintain a professional demeanor regardless of the employer's response to your proposition. If the employer accepts the name change, then thank them for their time and reinforce your commitment to the role. These practices might also be appropriate if the employer denies your proposal.

If you decide to accept the offer, consider scheduling another meeting with your supervisor to reconsider your name change. For example, you can note the work tasks you've completed in your new role and how a name change can enable you to connect more productively with your coworkers. While it's necessary for you to prepare to make the request, you can also be mindful of how the hiring manager responds, allowing you to maintain a positive relationship with them moving forward.

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