Job Title Placard on Desk

Welcome to another blog series! These blogs will be focusing on areas in which job seekers and employees commonly make mistakes. Stick around to make sure you know which missteps to avoid. Today we’ll be covering changing your own job title. Doing this can be especially tempting to do if your title isn’t one you’re proud of. We’ll discuss why you should avoid doing so after the break.

The Power of a Job Title

Like it or not, job titles say a lot about a person’s responsibilities. While it only is a word or two, a hiring manager will make many assumptions based on it. Thus grows the temptation to change it, improve perception. While it may make you look better immediately it could hurt your chances long term. Let’s walk through an example.

Consider an employee who has been in the same job for 2 years. They started out as an entry level employee. After 2 years they’ve grown their skills and experience. Ultimately, they could be considered an experienced employee. However, their manager never changed the title. Once the candidate begins to search, they decide to change up the title for a more senior sounding one. Eventually, their old boss gets called to reference check. At this point they find out the candidate changed the title, which won’t go over well.

Weigh Your Options

While the change may very well be deserved, it isn’t the employee’s place to make it. So, what can be done? We’ll discuss a proactive and retroactive option. Ideally, there is a way to avoid this situation entirely. Most companies offer annual performance reviews. Many employees know this is a prime time to renegotiate salary. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss your job title. If you’ve been a strong employee for the  year, and especially if you’ve taken on more responsibilities, this should be an easy decision for the hiring manager. If you are able to accomplish it, this is the ideal approach.

Another option is to bring up the title change in your cover letter, or subsequent interview. Make it clear that your skills and qualifications aren’t typical of that title. Lastly, there is a case in which you could get away with changing the title.

If your company has unique or exclusive titles that aren’t used elsewhere, you could change it to something more recognizable or typical. Changing  your title from ‘First Impressions Manager’ to ‘Secretary’ would be understood by a reasonable hiring manager. We hope this breakdown of ‘what not to do’ helps you to avoid a conflict in the future! If there are any specific topics or mistakes you think we should cover, please let us know!