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Ready for a title change

At what point in your career do you need a title change?

Answers

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I don’t believe there is a correct answer to this question. Employees have a priority that evolves. The first drive is salary which is usually closely aligned with title, but less so. Then comes recognition, also closely aligned with title, more so. I recently had a conversation with an Accounting Clerk to discuss salary. He is doing a great job and requires a salary adjustment, based on taking on new responsibilities. Instead of asking, “When will I receive the increase and how much are you thinking?” He asked if his title could be changed. Clearly he needs the recognition.

Most likely because you have achieved the first two, the last stage is to search for challenges.

In every situation where you deal with people, it is important to understand their motivation.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

While I don't disagree with Regis, sometimes a title change is warranted due to a changing job duties, but what about the C-Suite?

Those roles are supposed to be pinnacles, so unless you think like some of the megalomaniacal dictators/royalty who created absurd titles, you are stuck with yours unless you move or take in other C-Suite duties (CFO/COO comes to mind).

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Once I wanted to change my title to "OverLord of the Finance Realm"....but my CEO thought it was too middle-earthy!

Kidding aside, it does NOT really matter to me. As a perennial #2 and having also served as a Chief of Staff to the CEO, titles mean nothing to me NOW. 15-20 years ago, I was title hungry...now, not so much.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Emerson, that title is way too tame! You need to thing Grandiose, not pedestrian :)

Samuel W Reed
Title: Cofounder and CTO
Company: BitMEX
LinkedIn Profile
(Cofounder and CTO , BitMEX) |

That's the best answer I've ever seen. Thanks for the humor!

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Christie-I think it's hard to be precise on this. One way might be to look at the employee and establish if the role they play is way above the title of the position they hold. If for example, a person "punches above their weight" then maybe it's time to recognize this.

An accounting manager who can make a controller's life so easy in the close because s/he can get it all done with little oversight, may warrant promotion to Senior Accounting Manager or Assistant Controller.
How do the person's peers (in and out of their department) view the person?
How do you as their supervisor view them? Do you want to retain them longer term?

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

Interesting question. I think a change in title is warranted when the current one no longer reflects the duties being performed. Tangent question: Can a change in title be used as a motivator in lieu of an increase in compensation?

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Careers
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Careers) |

Unfortunately, titles still matter quite a bit. If you are trying to climb the corporate ladder, titles matter. Once you are a CFO, it is easier to be hired as a CFO by your next employer. Titles also matter as there can be a cap on your salary if you do not have the right title in a corporate environment. Titles also open doors in your professional network. CFOs like to network with CFOs. You can research the job responsibilities of those with the title you want, and if you are performing those duties, then you have the case for a new title. You should not accept the argument "we are a small company and we do not have a XXX" from your employer as your title can impact your career progress.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Excellent feedback. The title doesn't really matter to me at this point, but in a recent conversation with a friend (who is very title aggressive), she was telling me I need to go after a new title because my duties and direct reports have grown beyond CFO. I am up for review so now would be the time. I just don't think it's that big of a deal, from her point it looks better on a resume, from my point I am not planning to go anywhere anytime soon.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

What is "beyond CFO"? In my world, that's CEO and, in my experience, the marketing/sales chief beats out the finance chief for that promotion every time. ;-(

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

To me, it is NOT about the title but it is all about the ROLE. And no, they are NOT the same. Example, being no. 2 brings about more duties and responsibilities than the conventional CFO position.

So how you explain your ROLE (along with accomplishments) is much more important than just having the CFO (or whatever) title on the resume.

Cordelia Mundoza
Title: Finance Manager
Company: Maggie's
LinkedIn Profile
(Finance Manager, Maggie's) |

I agree with Ernie, title matters massively. When you have been in a position for a while and there has been a significant positive change to your responsibilities, then it is the right time for a title change. If your position is to influence other people and especially dealing with management, you don't get taken seriously when your job title says otherwise.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

I think it's important to recognize a person's responsibilities and give the appropriate title. I have seen companies downgrade or not give an appropriate title, which is wrong as titles don't necessarily mean more compensation, so why skimp on a title?

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

The ironic piece of this is I am having the same issue with my Director of Training. When reviewing compensation I always look at Payscale or something equivalent to make sure my team is paid as close to industry averages as possible. According to my recent search it appears she is significantly underpaid. That got me thinking; is her title wrong? She doesn't manage anyone directly so would a director title suit her or would Training Manager be a better fit. Now I am looking through job duties of both to do my due diligence. My fear is over paying based on the title as well, so I think it can work both ways.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Appropriate pay must take into account the local market as least as much any supposed "industry average". Situations are dynamic.

I work in the suburbs but could increase my compensation by 20% to 40% by finding a similar position in a nearby, major city. However, in my perspective, the commute ain't worth it and, my personal finances are such that I'm quite comfortable and wouldn't take on a huge mortgage to attempt an urban relocation. It's just not my cup of tea.

My perspective is not unique and I've found it shared by many colleagues over the years. This plays both ways. We take less but don't commute, don't pay $3,000/mo rent and don't have to deal with city life. For our employers, they get talent at a reduced rate.

And, playing devils advocate here, your example pretty much shows why titles are almost meaningless. A CFO here is likely not the same as a CFO there. That's why I find so many job equivalency comparisons meaningless. Even with identical titles, the responsibilities, required skillsets and other factors can be so different between entities.

Were you around when the retail banks made every branch manager a "VP". There was a reason to their madness. Part of it was to quell dissent amongst the ranks - "we are all equal". And part of it was to make their gender composition for the upper echelons look better. Just more evidence of why titles don't really mean much.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Careers
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Careers) |

Value people by their contribution not by title, pay them by value unless you must do so because of your HR policy. If your Training Guru is awesome then pay him or her equivalent to the value they being to your company.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Ernie, I love your feedback and if we had the budget to do that for everyone we would not make any money. That's one reason we evaluate annually look at what someone's annual salary was LY and compare that to industry averages. We try to pay 5% above what the industry average is, then at least then we know we are paying well and competitive.

William Johnson
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Aquantapure, LLC (temporary)
(Chief Financial Officer, Aquantapure, LLC (temporary)) |

Agree with the comments provided, specifically that titles change when employees consistently operate outside of their job description.

In addition, if Management is respected at the company, titles will be more respected as opposed to resulting in political disruption and gossiping. Why is this important?...

In this case, titles matter very much as those who are responsible for change management, representing a dept or working in a cross functional team will have more respect with a title that fits their skillset and responsibility...but again, the respect for titles comes from respect for Sr. Management.

Carla Gordon
Title: Accountant
Company: Govt
(Accountant, Govt) |

I echo that titles do matter. I had a Director title at one time that should have been a VP. Since I worked for a smaller entity, it was not considered a VP. My peers at other organizations did not treat me equally. Bottom line, I was doing the work of two people, but given the lower title.

Anonymous
(CFO/Board Advisor) |

I agree titles matter. Unfortunately, beginning with the internet bubble, in order to attract talent, titles were passed out like trophy's in T-ball league. Everyone got one. As such, nowadays, titles are more for your LinkedIn profile, and Facebook page, than for the job you are doing. With so much title creep during the past decade or so, (I mean when did it become necessary to have senior managers, senior directors, associate vice presidents, and all the other made-up titles for doing essentially job(s) that were done before as managers and directors?), titles have become essentially meaningless, except when meeting "outsiders" who are looking for "decision makers" and "decision influencers".

Also, keep in mind the Capt. of a row boat is not the same as the Capt. of a sailing schooner, or the Capt. of an Aircraft Carrier. I mean the Manager of the flight line on an Aircraft Carrier has more responsibility, than the Capt. of a row boat. Yet he is only a "Manager".

My point is this: if titles matter to your folks, then pass them out like candy, rarely have I seen a title change that came with a lot of "work/responsibility" change. The latter usually happened either long before or long after the title change.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Anonymous -

Not that I don't agree with the analogy, but the Capt of a row boat and the Capt of an aircraft carrier actually have the same responsibilities, the safety and well being of the the craft, crew and passengers.

Yes, there are a myriad of technical differences, but the aforementioned base responsibilities are the same.

To your other point, title creep; just look at the banking industry. How many Senior VP's can one organization have?

If a title doesn't convey authority you do not wish the individual to have (corporate officer, etc.), then it is a performance enhancer and in my mind the same as giving an executive a larger office or corner office. If it makes them happy and the company benefits from increased productivity, everyone wins.

Maria Marsala
Title: Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author
Company: Elevating Your Business
(Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author, Elevating Your Business) |

What's the purpose of the title change? To me the title should fit the duties of the position.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I went from a company with revenue over $100M and was a Senior Accountant because of the role I had at that company. I left there an came to a company that had less than half the revenue, a third of the staff, and my title changed to Corporate Accountant. I could have been called a Senior Accountant, but it would have been frivolous because of the company's size.

My initial thoughts is that it all depends on the size of the company and the extent of your responsibilities.

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