Tip #15: Take a Salary Increase over a Title Change | 28 Days of Salary Negotiation

Some people might consider this recommendation a pretty hot take. Many clients I have worked with in the past (and many of my colleagues, and I) have found ourselves in the precarious position where we were offered the delight of greater roles and responsibility for an indefinite amount of time in our current roles without any change in title or salary. The organization just "couldn't afford" that salary increase, and somehow couldn't manage to allow for a title change either.

Does this sound familiar?

It's a tough predicament to be in. When this situation arises, I almost always err on the side of pushing very hard for a salary increase over giving much effort at all to a title change. Why, you may be asking?

Don't get you more recognition from having a better title? (No.) Won't a better title help you get more money later? (Not necessarily.) If your employer raises your title now, doesn't that mean they'll eventually have a salary adjustment conversation like they said they would? (Absolutely not.) 

I feel strongly that it is critical to keep conversations tied to money and compensation, and that rarely needs to be linked to title. You can much more readily make up for lack of a title through an updated job description, thoughtfully positioning your skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments in your resume and cover letter, and simply by being strategic about how you approach your professional relationships.

It is much, much harder to make up for years of having an annual salary that's $10,000 less than it should be. That's a lot of money in today's terms, and a lot of money that was not contributed as a percent of salary to your 401k or other retirement account. As much as it should not be a factor, future employers often rope potential hires into linking their salary with their current job to a reasonable offer from the new job. It's a terrible, outdated--and in some cases, illegal--tactic, but it's still around. If this salary mismatch follows you to a new job, now we're talking a substantial part of your career that's lost significant income potential. 

It's about salary. It's about compensation. It is not about your title. If your employer tries to throw that out as an olive branch to keep a discussion about what would otherwise be a promotion from being about adequately compensating you, please be skeptical, and please advocate for yourself!