Is a Good Job Title Worth Giving Up Some Salary?

Title inflation and varying job descriptions may devalue that Top Dog title. Think carefully about what you’re willing to give up to get it.

It’s always tough to land a job with a top title — doubly so in a rocky economy. Making concessions to secure one could be a mistake, however, according to career coaches.

Candidates trying to land their first peak management job — one in which they have full profit-and-loss responsibility for a discrete organization — face intense competition when highly qualified people are scrambling for position. That’s the advice of Roy Cohen, who holds the title “master career coach” at the Five O’Clock Club, a private outplacement and career-counseling club based in New York.

Their rarity makes prestige titles seem even more valuable to many job seekers – so valuable they may give up substantial salary or other benefits to obtain them.

Big mistake, according to Lindsay Olson, partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing. Desperation – whether that means consenting to take any job that’s offered or accepting an inflated title with a deflated salary – makes a candidate less appealing, she said. In a market in which hiring managers are flooded with qualified candidates, candidates who are too ready to compromise don’t rise to the top of the pile, especially when a top position is at stake.

It’s possible that a good title will give you better opportunities in the future — but only if the company has enough reputation that your position there can get you a commensurate job somewhere else. Titles and responsibilities vary significantly from company to company, and they are often inflated by companies that will “promote” valuable employees to higher-level titles without the salary or responsibility to match. As a result, the value of most titles has been deflated, according to David A. Earle, lead researcher at Staffing.org, an analyst company that measures recruiting trends, practices and sourcing.

In fact, increasing the seniority of your job title is a better tactic for a counteroffer than for an initial discussion, according to Randall S. Hansen, a career counselor and head of career-development site Quintessential Careers.

Kevin Fogarty

Kevin Fogarty Kevin Fogarty is a writer, editor, and columnist with 20+ years' experience covering the technology, science and healthcare stories that make a difference with traditional fact-checking, source-vetting, dig-for-the-real-story journalism adapted to new formats, platforms audiences and news cycles.

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