Before You Offer a Candidate a Better Job Title

Career experts sometimes advise candidates to negotiate job title as part of a job offer. While giving a candidate a better job title may seem like a harmless point of concession, it’s not without risks.

Source: scyther5 / iStock / Getty

Before you give in – or even suggest it yourself, in lieu of higher salary or another benefit – it’s important to understand the potential implications.

Why Candidates Ask

A candidate may ask for a better job title for any number of reasons, including logical ones.

  • The job title you’re offering may not reflect the responsibilities of the position.
  • The job title may suggest a step below the candidate’s current position and will therefore come across as a demotion, or at the very least not show progression.
  • The pay you’re offering suggests a higher-level position.

On the other hand, a candidate may see an opportunity to further his or her career with an enhanced title. It may not have anything to do with the salary you’re offering or the job responsibilities.
Understanding why a candidate wants a better title can help you decide how to address the situation.

About That Title

The worst mistake you can make is to think a job title doesn’t matter. If the candidate has raised the issue of job title, it matters to this individual.
And, in truth, job titles still carry weight in many industries, and at companies of all sizes. They can also have an impact on a person’s career progression.
In addition, title is often a driver of salary . . . which is one reason you want to proceed carefully.

Employer Considerations

It may seem like changing a supervisor title to manager or adding the word “senior” to a title is no big deal, especially if the candidate’s skills and experience seem to warrant such a change. But there are several things to consider before agreeing to or offering a candidate a better job title.

  • How the new job title impacts salary. Although a title may have no bearing on starting salary – and indeed may be offered in place of a higher salary – will it become a factor going forward? Will the candidate have future financial expectations as a result of the title? Can the company meet those expectations?
  • How the new job title impacts the candidate’s perception of the job. Is the title merely a formality, or does the candidate view the title as an indication that the role now includes more responsibility?
  • How the new job title impacts the department and company structure. Will the title have an adverse affect on department and company hierarchy? If, for example, others in similar roles are referred to as supervisors and the new person comes in as a manager, will this be an issue?
  • How the new job title impacts employees. How will staff and coworkers react to the title change? Will they feel resentful that the new person was hired with a job title that includes the word “senior,” when they have as much experience and have lesser titles?

Attention to these issues will help you decide whether to change a job title—and help you head off problems that could arise as a result of your decision.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *