Suppose that you apply to and interview for a position entitled Senior Engineer. All in-person discussions refer to the position as Senior Engineer, but the written offer uses only the job classification, Engineer, without the grade, Senior. The company is glad to meet all of your compensation requirements without negotiation on the company's part, so money is not at issue. After you start, you review your information in corporate HR's systems and find that your effective level/classification is Junior Engineer.

Given that you've already started and have been working for some period of time (weeks, or months, but less than a year) without realizing the discrepancy, how should the situation be handled? Specifically...

Would you be justified in asking that your grade/level be adjusted to the level you thought you were being hired for?

Would you be justified in resigning your position if the company refuses?

The primary interest here is in professional etiquette / courtesy / ethics; "justified" in this sense should be understood to mean "justifiable to other professionals."

  • Down-voter(s) - care to comment? I suspect that this comes off as opinion-based and/or too localized, although I can't think of a good way to fix either of these issues very easily... maybe this just isn't a good question for this site. EDIT: edited to try to address what I perceive to be the major weaknesses of the question.
    – user16159
    Feb 22, 2014 at 5:35
  • Note: I am trying really hard to make this question fit the "constructive subject question" category described in the Help section of the site. Any pointers on how to do that better are appreciated.
    – user16159
    Feb 22, 2014 at 5:42
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    Hi Thomas, I think your question has quite a bit of potential. Here's a few editing tips that may help: 1. Let's find a better job title example. I suspect "Office jock" might make folks think this isn't serious. 2. Clarify whether it's pay/compensation you're concerned about, the actual job title, or both. I feel like your concern is the title, but that's not immediately clear until the end. As an aside, conciseness helps make things more readable, so see if there isn't unnecessary info you can remove. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Feb 22, 2014 at 7:53
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    Thomas, the answer probably would depend heavily on why you would care in the first place. Pecking order? Being able to tell your family about your job title? If the company is willing to pay for a junior position what you thought would be appropriate for a senior one, that leaves a lot of room for financial improvement in your career, so economically, it’s not necessarily bad. Feb 22, 2014 at 10:23
  • 3
    @jmort253 Thanks for the pointers; tried to clean up the question to be a better fit.
    – user16159
    Feb 22, 2014 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


Would you be justified in asking that your grade/level be adjusted to the level you thought you were being hired for?

This is a difficult one, since you were clearly confused regarding the level - you heard Senior Jock, you signed an offer for Jock, and now you look in the HR system and see Junior Jock.

It would certainly make sense for you to talk with your manager, and perhaps HR to clear up this confusion. It's possible a mistake was made. It's also possible that positions have been re-graded. It might be possible that you were snookered, although that seems unlikely. And of course it's possible that you are still misunderstanding what really happened.

As is often the case - you should talk to your boss first. Then, decide if you really need to be outraged or not.

Would you be justified in resigning your position if the company refuses?

You have to decide for yourself how much the prefix on your title matters to you - is it worth more than your job when you have indicated that your compensation isn't an issue?

How has the position worked out for the weeks/months you've been there? Are you being treated as a Senior Jock, or a Jock, or a Junior Jock? In the real work world, what kind of difference are you experiencing between these positions?

If you do think about resigning, ask yourself how you would respond when asked "Why did you leave?" Then ask yourself how a new hiring manager would view your response, and what she might think. Some managers might think - this person couldn't even figure out what title he was actually getting.

Does the company have any sort of civil or other liability/responsibility if it can be shown that you suffered damages or that the company employed deception in its hiring practices?

Legal questions aren't considered appropriate here. [I'm not a lawyer, and I don't even play one on television] but what are your real damages here? You have indicated that your compensation hasn't been impacted. And "deceptive hiring practices" are very hard to prove.

  • Thanks for the answer - I guess there's not really much more to say than that I should have been more careful in negotiating everything. Definitely planning to discuss with my supervisor to see what the situation is, although I'm a bit embarrassed that I'm only now bringing this up. Already awaiting a response from HR/recruiting. Pretty disappointed on just the principle of the thing... if this isn't a mistake, it will definitely impact my plans regarding staying with the company, which would be unfortunate, since the pay is great and the work is rewarding.
    – user16159
    Feb 22, 2014 at 14:31
  • The title could be important for future jobs.
    – user8036
    Feb 22, 2014 at 16:20
  • Also, try to get written proof the original application: your cover letter, any invitations, a screenshot of the online advertisement etc.
    – user8036
    Feb 22, 2014 at 16:21
  • How he is being treated is important. If he signed on under the impression he'd be a senior and then only ends up with the responsibilities of a junior that could be something to mention in the next interview. "I didn't feel like I was utilized to my fullest potential" would be a good explanation I'd think.
    – Andy
    Feb 22, 2014 at 19:33

Points to feel good about

  • The pay is great.
  • The work is rewarding.
  • You can't eat or spend a title.
  • Nobody except HR & your boss needs to know.
  • Pay grades often overlap by a lot.
  • It's hopefully either an HR mistake, or a bit of bureaucratic maneuvering (maybe the boss can give you higher raises if you're classified as a Junior?)
  • In the US, most companies will confirm dates of employment but little else. What one company calls you may not be relevant to another company.

Points to be concerned about

  • If the company truly considers you to be Junior, will that pigeon hole you into doing less rewarding work? (It sounds like the answer is 'no')
  • Will this be a handicap to being considered for other opportunities within the company? Seniors might get promoted into management. Juniors probably won't. Do you care?

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