You like your job, get along with your colleagues, and are generally happy with the tasks you're required to do during the day. There's just one problem: You're not pleased with your job title.
You might think that obsessing over a job title is nothing more than a waste of your time and mental energy. After all, if your company is willing to pay you a certain salary, why haggle over what's printed on your business cards? The reality, however, is that having an accurate job title is important for your career, so if yours isn't reflective of what you currently do, it pays to fight for a better one.
Why ask for a different job title?
Some companies assign job titles arbitrarily so that a manager in one company, for example, has only a quarter of the responsibility of a manager at another. In fact, you'll often hear recruiters tell you that the work you do and the skills you boast are more important than the title your manager assigns you. But it still pays to snag the best job title possible because in some cases, it can set the stage for future career opportunities.
Think about it: When you apply for a job, a hiring manager might spend 10 seconds scanning your resume before deciding whether to give you a chance. If that person doesn't see the job title he or she is looking for, your resume might get passed over automatically.
Furthermore, in some organizations, your job title can dictate what salary you receive. For example, managers at a given company might automatically be entitled to a certain pay grade, so if you're doing the work of a manager but don't have that title, it pays to make the case for a change.
Fighting for a new title
If you're convinced that your job title doesn't accurately reflect the work you're doing, it's time to broach the topic with your manager. First, make a list of your responsibilities, with a focus on the ones that occupy most of your time. Next, take a look at what other internal employees with similar titles are doing with their days. Are you tasked with much more? Are you working on projects that require a greater skill level? If so, you can start making the case for a title change.
Additionally, take a look at how your colleagues who are ranked above you on the organizational chart spend their days. Does your schedule read more like theirs? If you do come to find that your title isn't reflective of what you do or isn't consistent within your organization -- meaning other people with similar responsibilities have one job title while you have another -- that's definitely grounds for an update.
Another tactic you might employ is pulling up job listings and seeing if your role description translates to a different -- meaning better -- title at other companies. For example, maybe in your boss's mind, the person responsible for overseeing network maintenance is a "network engineer" and not a "network engineering manager," but if you find seven other companies at which you'd get that manager title based on your workload, that's something to bring up.
Finally, when you have that conversation, be clear about the title you do want. If you're looking to be called a senior manager, say so. Going in with a concrete suggestion is better than simply approaching your manager and stating that you're unhappy with your title at present.
Like it or not, your job title could play a role in dictating not only your salary, but future career opportunities. So if you've gotten stuck with the wrong one, take steps to get it changed.