Rose By Any Other Name” Does Not Apply To Job Titles
By Susan Fenner
You’ve heard the expression, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, be assured that that isn’t true when it comes to job titles. What you are called can make a great difference – in terms of compensation, prestige, promotional opportunities, and resume punch. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are negotiating for a job in a new company, being asked to upgrade your job description in a current position, or thinking about changing positions.
In some companies (usually the larger ones), job titles are etched in stone. There are well-formulated descriptions of what one does and to whom one reports. But in other companies (usually smaller ones), what you are called can be worked out between your exec and yourself. This gives you leeway to accurately define what you do.
Some job titles may dead-end you. “Secretary” used to be that way. Few secretaries made it out of the typing pool and into management. Today, titles like clerk, receptionist, data entry, or transcriptionist are ones that you may want to refresh.
If you are at the top of your pay scale, getting a new title may increase your earnings.
Titles with reference to technology always look good. Desktop publisher, graphics designer, multi-media specialist, and network administrator are good choices.
Check industry surveys to see which categories pay the most, then adapt your title to match them. According to OfficeTeam’s Salary Guide, senior executive assistant, medical office administrator, and senior office/facilities manager pay the best.
If you are stuck with a certain classification, like secretary, then see if you can add a descriptor, like secretary II or senior secretary. By creating levels within your classification, you can justify higher pay.
Words that enhance administrative work include: coordinator (project coordinator), assistant (sales assistant), representative (customer service representative), and manager (office manager).
If you are looking for a promotion in a certain area, use that field in your title. Marketing assistant would be stronger than administrative assistant if you wanted to rise through the ranks in marketing.
Be sure that your resume shows a progression in titles. If you move from administrative assistant to secretary, preface the titles with a word choice that indicates the move was a promotion. For example, you might state that you were the administrative assistant to three sales persons, but secretary to the regional sales manager.
The word manager elevates the title, even when duties remain the same. Administrative manager is perceived to be higher than administrative assistant.
title doesn’t do it, then call yourself something that encompasses the total job
– like communications specialist, information coordinator, or assistant to the
A title may not mean much now...but when you're seeking a new job, competing against other applicants for a job, or looking to advance, it can mean the difference between moving up or not.
--Susan Fenner, Manager of Education and Professional Development Department, International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).