2018 Update: We still think this is a great discussion on whether salary or title is more important — but you may also want to check out our latest discussions on salary negotiation tips.
Which is more important — your salary or your title? Reader D wonders…
I would love to see a post on the relative merits of pursing a higher title or more compensation. Would readers be willing to be paid less (or the same amount) for a title bump? Or, would they demand that any title bump come with an increase in pay? Is title more important than money? Or, is money more important than title?
Interesting question. My first reaction was “money — duh” but I suppose there are situations where a title would be more important than money. We’ve talked before about how job hopping isn’t the best idea, but in some professions (for example, magazines), historically, the way to get through all the bottom-rung positions (editorial assistant, assistant editor, junior editor, etc.) was to change jobs as frequently as possible. The salary bumps were miniscule, and the job title was, generally, ceremonial — a junior editor still had to sort reader mail as much as an editorial assistant — but they helped you advance to the real editing much more quickly. So I suppose, in today’s environment — where more and more industries are taking the Hollywood “Harvard grads start in the mailroom” approach to hiring, and where people often take internship after internship because real jobs are scarce — well, maybe I would take the title over the money. (Pictured: Up! originally uploaded to Flickr by Peter π.)
However, sometimes bosses give a “title bump” in lieu of a raise. This could be for a number of reasons — chief among them, I think, is that the boss thinks you’ll accept it instead of money. Each situation is different, and we are in a recession, but if it were me, I would demand a small raise if I were taking a new title — particularly if responsibilities are increasing! — even if it’s only 1% or 2%, and ask for a salary review on a more expedited timeline (such as six months instead of a year) to reassess.
Readers, how do you weigh salary versus title? Would you rather have a better title or a better salary?