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Updated: 28 Jan 2021

How to Negotiate a Job Title


I'm negotiating a new position. I think I've achieved the best I can expect on salary and benefits. So I'm thinking of what else I can negotiate. I'm not satisfied with the position's title in the job hiring ad. How do I negotiate a job title of my choosing?

Jan from Canada


Most business professionals focus on the money and benefits, giving too little attention to their job title. Job titles are useful when it comes to your NEXT move, so plan ahead. So well done for casting your net widely in your new job negotiation. We recommend your follow our 7 step process to negotiate your job title:

  1. Identify who is responsible for your job title change. If you don't already have a relationship with them, build your relationships before you ask for your title change. Ideally arrange a one to one confidential off the record conversation with this person. This could be HR, a VP, Director or a departmental manager.
  2. Get your hands on a list of all current job title designations. It's much easier to negotiate yourself a job title that has an established precedent. Reserach your industry, find out if a competitor uses the job title you're aiming for.
  3. Create your business case, answer the question 'why should you have this title?'.
  4. Before any negotiation, you will do well to build leverage in your favour. So what will you do if they simply say 'no'? You may need to interview with another company to be prepared to walk. The moment they say 'no', you have a moment of power, so don't squander your power! Instead ask for something else - such as a salary review in 6 months. You're more likely to either get your new request, else perhaps even your original job title change.
  5. Sequence your job title negotiation carefully. You'll usually do better to start out more ambitiously, by asking for something more than just a title change. If they push back on your ambitious opening offer (as your employer usually will), then you have your title change to fall back on, and you're far more likely to get a yes. Why does this work? We humans tend to judge the second negotiation request using the frame of the first negotiation request.
  6. Anticipate objections, and write down your responses to each objection. If for example you're told that you're not yet ready for the title you desire, then ask what milestones you need to achieve and by when - get specific. If your manager is unwilling to get specific with you, then read this as their lack of intention to follow through.
  7. You have far more leverage to negotiate a title before accepting a job offer than once you're already in the role. So plan ahead, exactly as you're doing.
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