When I say your job title isn’t vital, it’s a phrase that I’ve heard over and over in my career. I’ve been given promotions, maybe even offered more money, but my title stayed the same. The organization expected me to do more work but did not offer an updated title to reflect the new responsibilities or my experience. Has this happened to you? I am willing to bet it has. Let’s talk about what we can do to change this.
What do we do when we’re told the title isn’t vital?
You can love your work and even accept the promotion without a title change but at what point does it make sense to continue this way? Over time, it can feel like you’re being taken advantage of because you’re doing different work and gaining experience in the organization, and yet you’re still referenced by your old title. If you’re doing great work, I believe a title change should be part of a promotion.
Like you, I work hard and have had the opportunity to gain experience within organizations. As I’ve progressed into the regional and national spotlight, there has come a point where my title does matter. I could be doing the work of a nonprofit executive and yet not have the title.
When talking to others, the title has influence and leverage. I can’t go into a meeting asking for a million dollars with a perceived less than impactful title. I need leverage or advantage point that comes with Director, C-Suite, or Executive position. I can’t go into a meeting asking for a million dollars with a title that connotes insignificance. I need the credibility that comes with Director or Executive.
Donors want to interact with people within the organization who have authority over the interest area(s) their investment should impact, or with the exact same experience, if I have the right title. While I may have the skills and job if my title is something else, that matters.
Your experience matters.
If you’re not getting the recognition you’ve earned, it could be time to move on to another organization, but how do you do that without the right title currently? Get creative. Tell YOUR professional story. Share what you’ve learned and that you’re leaving because, frankly, you feel you’re ready to move on to a position AND the title. After all, you’ve already been doing the work. You’re a leader whether you’re leading dozens or a few people. What you’re doing matters.
I may not have led an organization raising millions of dollars, but I’ve led teams. I’ve grown communities. I’ve led communities of those who are underserved. Through these experiences, I’ve grown as a professional and as a leader. I deserve and have earned titles of leadership in organizations, including my own business.
As we develop our careers, we can learn along the way. Maybe we even accept promotions without new titles, but we should remain cognizant of these situations. At some point, the title IS vital. Position yourself with skills for the title, give it to yourself, and own it by creating impact beyond where you sit today. You have a higher purpose. Don’t let others define who you are or what you know. Keep gaining those experiences!