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Context

Recently I was interviewed for a senior software developer's position which went well.

Now I have been offered a Software Architect position and I don't feel quite ready yet. I can imagine working at max as a principal software developer level. I also dont want to give up on coding as the higher you go in technical hierarchy level the less coding you do.

Question

What would be right way to ask for a lower title without coming off as meek or unprofessional?

P.S. -> The salary band is nearly in software architect bracket.

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    Are you sure your view on the title matches what the job actually entails? My official title is Technical consultant, but my day to day job is at best medior software developer. – AsheraH Dec 20 '18 at 7:22
  • Technical consultant is very broad title, Software architecht is specialized role. – Anirudh Dec 20 '18 at 9:26
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Don't get stuck on titles. Focus on the things that matter.

If specific functions or roles are important to you, then yes - now is the time to clarify. If a specific salary or career path is important (getting more in to coding vs more in to leadership), then clarify now.

One company's "architect" may well be another company's "senior" or "lead." You need to clarify what those roles mean to this firm, and potentially clarify why they're offering you the role they are.

Most interviews include an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions. As a hiring manager, it's staggering to think about how few candidates bother preparing or asking anything beyond one or two throwaway questions. They're giving you a chance, use it! If you're beyond that part of the process - and it sounds like you are - you can still reach out to the recruiter, hiring manager, or whomever you're working with to clarify.

Good questions are things along the lines of,

  • Can you walk me through a day in the life of X role at your company? What sorts of activities will I be focused on?
  • What other roles or people within the company will I work with? How will I interact with them?
  • As an X role, will I be more focused on A, or B? (Coding, vs leadership? Architecture vs hands-on development? etc.)
  • As an X role, will I be more involved as an individual contributor, or more as a leader/mentor for others?

Their responses to these question will give you a much better feel for what the titles actually mean, which will put you in a better position to respond to their offer.

If it turns out you do think they're offering you something you don't want (either because you wouldn't be good at it, or because you just don't want it), again, now's the time to ask.

Be very careful though, as insinuating you're not interested, or not a good fit for, a role they're offering is as likely to result in no job, as it is to result in your dream job. Employers generally view recruitment as filling specific positions and not as finding a way to hire a specific person. If you want X, but they only have an opening for Y, they may simply pull the offer from you and go find someone who actually wants Y.

That, combined with the way you present this as a bit of a bait-and-switch situation, gives you a chance to ask an innocent question to test the waters:

I understood that I was applying for X, but you're offering Y. Can you explain what the differences are, and why you're offering Y?

Perhaps they've already filled X and are trying to fill Y now. Perhaps they have both open, and they think you'd be better at Y (despite your reservations). Perhaps there was some sort of simple mix up, or perhaps the position isn't even well defined within the company and different people call it different things. The only way to know is to ask.

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If you're sure this is not what you want to do and you're sure the title they've given you isn't just a title and that you will indeed actually be doing coding.

Just ask. You don't want to waste your time or theirs.

Hi x, I've noticed the role you've offered me is "Software Architect" but I was looking to stay doing coding and at max I'd only want to be a Principal Software Dev. I was wondering if there was any way if I could get the original job that was posted "Senior Software developer".

From here you either get your role or they'll persuade you that there's mainly coding in the role they've offered you. You can accept the job and see if it is or you can start looking elsewhere if you want to continue coding.

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So, what you want is the (likely to be seen as) more senior job's pay, but for a lesser role?

I'm sure if you want a lower role (and they have a need) they can give you it, but expect the pay to match the role.

Given the pay for the architect role sounds at the low end from what you say, this will likely reflect someone in transition, so ask them about the actual expectations in the role before you try and change it.

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