Job Hunting: Title vs. Salary

For most people, there are three primary items to consider when deciding on a job offer:

  • Work:  Sometimes the perfect job comes along with the right level of responsibility, flexibility, creaitivity – whatever it is your heart desires.  If the opportunity is great enough, people will relocate, take a salary cut or change careers altogether.
  • Salary:  If you have a history of becoming very disgruntled when you do not receive the salary offer or raise you believe you deserve, then I would say you subscribe to the “no money, no mission” philosophy and salary is critical to you.
  • Title:  For most people, there is a great amount of prestige attached to titles, particularly once you surpass the Senior Manager level and approach Director or higher.

Open Doors to New Opportunities

blue doors

Here are some scenarios beyond the job offer where you will need to reconsider your salary and job title:

1. As supervisor you make less than the team you supervise.  In this case, your job responsibilities is not being reflected in your salary.  This could be because you joined the organization earlier when salaries did not reflect trends in the current marketplace.  The folks you supervise could also be on a different pay structure that ensures certain starting salaries and increases (union, grades, steps, lanes, etc.).

Here’s how Orisa Ojimba of suggests handling this situation:   “Sure up your confidence.  If your company had to replace your skill set, it would probably pay more than that of those you are supervising. Hopefully, you are in a profession that has been less adversely affected by the economy.

Ask your manager what your role is in the company, and what plans they have to raise your salary so that it is commensurate with your scope and responsibilities. Don’t threaten your manager with resignation, but at least ask if they are working toward adjusting your salary so your are making something comparable to the people you supervise.

Speak to your manager and see what they can do for you. If you think their offer and/or explanation is reasonable, stay on. If you think you’ve outlived your time and now need to start making more money sooner rather than later, then by all means start circulating your resume.”

2. Your responsibilities and salary do not reflect your job title.

According to Marc Cenedella and Matthew Rothenberg of theLadders, “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.

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, an analyst company that measures recruiting trends, practices and sourcing.

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.”

3. The new salary is comparative (slightly higher or lower) to my current role but the title reflects that of a more junior professional

There are some scenarios where you, as a senior professional, may choose to take a lower level position.  It may be because you do not want the pressure that comes with a senior position.  This could be due to life changes.  Perhaps you are starting a family, going back to schools, or simply want less stress in your life.   In this case, you will most likely need to understand that with the lower level responsibility comes a lower salary and fewer managerial responsibilities.

Susan Adams of Fortune Magazine recommends that you stick to the two most important rules of salary negotiation: Don’t bring it up, and then try not to be the first person to name a number. If the hiring manager broaches the topic, Hellmann suggests responding, “I know we’re going to work something out; salary is not going to be an issue.” Or, “I want to be paid what this position is worth in the marketplace.” For more on negotiating salary, see our stories here and here.

4. This is a career change and you are being offered an entry level title and salary 

Susan Bryant doesn’t think experienced careerists need to start at the bottom when changing careers.  She believes that “you’re not the newbie you were when you entered the workforce. You’ve gained an impressive array of skills, plus you have professional wisdom and perspective acquired only through time. The key to bypassing entry-level status is to market these assets in your next interview. The skills that made you successful may be transferable to your dream job. Believing and convincing yourself, and your interviewer, of this puts you leagues — and salary grades — ahead of younger competition.”

5. The matter of receiving a lower salary offer may be due to the employer having information regarding your current salary. So what should you do is your salary is a matter of public record?  (applies mostly to non-profit and government jobs)

According to Marc Chapman of theLadders, if your salary is a matter of public record, there is “no need to worry any more about disclosing current earnings; you can’t stop them from finding out, so you might as well tell them when it naturally comes up again. Regarding ending up at the high end, you need to monetize the experience you bring to this venture — and sometimes monetizing is not “dollar-izing” because in the case of not-for-profit it’s number of kids cured, or number of trees saved, etc., not how may dollars in the checking account. But while the accomplishments won’t be money, they can be expressed as money, or some other measure of value. If you postpone any real serious salary talk until they’ve chosen you, then you have the most leverage to get the highest salary. If ‘you go first’ with a higher number once you are ready to talk money, that will usually pull your compensation up as much or more as your [lower] last salary brought it down.”

I hope this was helpful.  If you are interested in sharing your job search or salary vs. title exeperience with my readers, please contact me at  Everyone has a story to tell.




Categories: Jobs

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5 replies

  1. Hi Sherry,

    Nice post. I’m in assistant manager position where I’m pretty sure I will get promoted within this year to manager level. However, I got an offer with assistant manager level – but the salary is the same as manager in my current company.

    What do you think?

  2. This was eye opening and nicely organized [?]–I’m very proud of you Sherry Clayton.

  3. This is not really an issue for me since I am self employed but it is useful to know when I get round to employing people directly.

I woud like to hear from you

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