Negotiating a job title change can be a scary prospect. It can be particularly daunting for those in the administrative sector who feel that they are not taken seriously in their chosen field. In the past I have asked to have my job title changed to accurately reflect the work I do only to be told that it doesn’t really matter what title I have and actually I get paid really well for what I do so why change things. It would be completely different if  I was, for example, a company accountant taking on the work of a CFO – if that was the case the argument would be given more consideration. But actually the argument is similar. An administrator taking on the work of an EA is a huge jump in terms of duties and the job title should reflect that position.

There is obviously the link between job titles and pay increases and this is a hurdle that can be difficult to get over but many of us just want our job title to match our duties. Here are some tips which I hope will help you successfully negotiate a job title change.

How are your organisation’s job titles structured?

The structure of your organisation can make negotiating a job title change difficult. Many job titles are associated with pay grades and reporting lines. This is generally the case for larger organisations but may not necessarily include those in administrative roles. In smaller organisations the structure may be less rigid making job title changes a lot easier to negotiate.

How is the industry structured?

Luckily, and I don’t often say this about our industry, job titles and the work involved is fairly straightforward.  EAs for example usually look after board level directors, PAs usually look after senior managers, multiple bosses or teams while administrators usually work in departments looking after the administrative systems. Now, I am speaking quite broadly here but on the whole our job titles do reflect the level of work that we do. So if your job title is, for example, Administrator but you are performing PA duties you might find it easier to negotiate a job title change.

What tasks are you actually doing?

Prior to speaking to your manager about your job title you should make a note of all of the tasks that you are performing. As I’ve often said before, your manager may not fully appreciate everything you do and may be surprised once they see all of the duties listed in black and white. Gather as much evidence as possible to back-up your argument for a job title change, including any positive feedback you have received.

When should you make your request?

The easiest time to discuss your job title is around your mid-year or annual review. If you are swamped in work which you consider is outside of your current job title schedule time with your manager as soon as possible. They may not be able to do something until your review period but at least you have brought your concerns to their attention.

Is it a benefit to the organisation?

If you still have an administrative title (or even a PA title) but you are managing your CEO’s diary this isn’t going to make your CEO look particularly professional. Changing your job title to EA will increase your authority and in turn make your Executive look more senior. When negotiating a job title change try to emphasis that the change will also benefit the organisation.

Be flexible

I have found in my career that dual job titles can be quite helpful. In the past I have been an ‘Administrator and Team PA’, a ‘PA and Administrative Manager’ and an ‘EA and Marketing Manager’. The dual titles reflected the different aspects of the roles and I have been able to work in different industries because my previous role looked really flexible.

It is a lot easier to ask that an additional job title is added to your current title rather than a completely new one, especially if you are acting as a PA while also working as an administrator.

It is also worthwhile being flexible with your manager once you have spoken to them about your job title. They might agree with your argument but are unable to do anything until the end of the financial year or they have to go through a process with HR first. Remain flexible and give your manager the space to do what they need to do.

Get everything in writing

Lastly, if you do manage to successfully negotiate a title change make sure you get all of the details in writing. A title change will affect your contract and job description so both documents will need to be updated. If you have been promised a job title change but it will not take effect until later in the year definitely make sure you get the agreement in writing. As lovely as your organisation is sometimes they can go back on verbal promises.

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