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I applied for a junior software developer position (with the job requirements fit for such a role) but was informed that if accepted my business title will mention neither software nor development (and not junior status either, curiously). Is this normal? This is regarding an internal job offer at my company.

I feel the job title is important for me seeing as I want to get into software development and currently the job market for junior software developers is extremely difficult to get into. On the other hand, money is signifcantly less important for me. Is it worth negotating the title? Is it worth making it a deal breaker?

EDIT: as two answers mentioned the field and the country, without getting into too much detail the company is a European Union country branch of an international financial corporation.

EDIT 2: I have to say your answers reassured me a bit. Thank you! What I think I'm going to do if I'm accepted is politely ask for a change in the business title (or ask if it's negotiable) but not make it a deal breaker. The reason I'm so concerned is a lot of candidate screening at IT companies in my country is done by non-IT people looking at things like education (CS degree or not) or, well, previous jobs. I do not want to be dismissed because of a non-developer business title. I know it seems petty but it's incredibly difficult to get into software development these days.

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    Usually internal titles mean very little. What country and industry is this?
    – Peter
    Jan 9 '21 at 13:24
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I don't think it's un-normal. I'm in the EU, and every tech job I've had, the job title in the contract was different to the job title I was expected to use during the job.

Also with promotions, title changes, role changes, never seen a company put it in writing or provide an updated contract. I've only worked with small to medium sized companies. Imagine it may be different with a larger company.

eg. In the contract I was a "Business Analyst". The job role, my email footer, how everyone (including my bosses) refers to me within the company and to external clients: "Web Developer"

No harm asking if you can have a different title, but I don't think it should be a deal breaker.

I assume you care about the title for your CV/Portfolio? If so, you can always display the job title along with your role.

eg:

  • Company Name / Business Analyst (Software Developer)
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It isn't "normal", but I would also say it isn't unusual - just not all that common.

I once applied for a job that was advertised with the title of Web Developer - after accepting the offer and starting that job, I was told my official title was Systems Analyst. It was a marketing/presentation thing - all developers were Analysts at this company which built and maintained applications (web and desktop), and the owner felt it gave the company more gravitas when dealing with clients.

I had no trouble moving on to my next job as a Developer, even without the Developer title - because I highlighted my development experience from that role in my CV - the previous title didn't matter. The experience did.

Also, at networking events, you can just call yourself a Developer if you want.

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It depends on the country and the company!

Some organisations / cultures place very little value on the job title whereas in others it is exceptionally important.

Personally I think the job requirements / description are the more important factor but telling us which country you are in might help the answer.

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I noticed that companies often differentiate between a job title and a role.

On the one hand, the title is defined in your contract and is ofter connected so some kind of salary range. When you get promoted that title probably changes too.

On the other hand, the role tells what you are working on, what your role is within the team, what your work is focused on.

For example, it is common that a software developer (title) is introduced as an Analyst or Consultant (role) to the client. A senior designer (title) might be a UX expert (role) or a project manager (title) can work in the role of a team lead.

And when you look at a typical career leader in a company there are often not many steps and therefore not many title options to choose from. But that is okay because the title only defines some kind of experience level and therefore salary range within this company.

Whereas there are many different jobs to be done in a company and roles to fill. It makes much sense to be specific. Someone can work in the role of a backend developer, a requirement analyst, a QA engineer, or a consultant for customers. For the team and the client, these roles are important, but from the point of HR, they are all just software developers (title).

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I actually think it is quite common for companies to fancy up their (IT) job titles a bit. For example they often call their programmers consultants. An IT-department is sometimes/often called a Research and Development department.

To use some examples outside the IT-industry, environmental maintenance officer for garbage man or eviction technician for bouncer (source https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18983009).

So I think that whatever job title your company wants to assign to you doesn't really matter and that you shouldn't spend energy arguing about it, especially if the job title actually increases your status.

Maybe you are afraid that the assigned job title will be an hindrance when in the future you want to find another job outside the company. However there is no law or rule that you have to use the exact same job title used within the company on your CV or LinkedIn-profile. On these you can just put software developer if that is what you do/did.

UPDATE

A comment points out that in the case of extensive/strict background checks an incongruency between the job title on your CV and the job title used within the (old/referenced) company might be a problem.

I guess this can be the case, don't have any firsthand or secondhand experience with such extensive background checks myself.

However I like to point out that such extensive background checks are the exception rather than the rule. But just for these cases you could do something like this.

2020 - 2023 Software developer at CompanyXYZ (internally the job description "Agile business analyst growth hacker" was used for this position).

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  • "no law or rule that you have to use the exact same job title" - that could be tricky when it comes to references and/or background checks. I've heard of background checks failing on some very minor discrepancies. And a reference conversation with a HR type could go "Hi, did X work as a Junior Developer for 3 years?" - "No, we don't hire Junior Developers. They were a [whatever]". If you're talking to someone who worked with X and isn't constrained by a corporate reference policy, you can probably talk about the role more, but a HR type would likely end the call there.
    – HorusKol
    Jan 10 '21 at 1:46
  • Both of you are right. I am aftraid of being dismissed by a prospective employer based on something as petty as a business title. However, @HorusKol makes a very good point and it's in fact precisely why I'm so hung up on the issue. Jan 10 '21 at 11:19

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