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Does it make sense to ask for a better job title (e.g. senior developer instead of developer) when negotiating with my current employer? This does not include any increase in the salary.

Will improving the job title improve my perceived status in the company? Is this something more than just a small personal win? (Most developers in the company don't have any formal titles.)

Does this make me more valuable without a new contract or some document?

  • This is basically the same question, I think? workplace.stackexchange.com/q/3347/2322 – enderland Jul 28 '15 at 13:17
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    I personally would never accept a higher title such as senior dev from dev without a pay raise. Promotions come with pay raises. Promotions also come with increased duties. Are you really ready to be asenior dev? – HLGEM Jul 28 '15 at 13:19
  • Plus, the request might look silly to the employer. – o0'. Jul 28 '15 at 16:00
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    Titles are just names, and mean different things to different companies. It is much more important to understand the work you will be doing and your responsibilities. That is more important for accepting the job and also for future reference on your resume regarding the work you do. – cdkMoose Jul 28 '15 at 16:05
  • Remember, if you start with "senior", that means you can't be promoted to senior anymore. Sometimes showing growth in-company is more important on your resume than showing you can switch companies and get another title, which my only "sound" higher, but since the companies are different, cannot be measured against eachother. – Konerak Aug 3 '15 at 11:34
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Remember that the higher title does come with higher expectations. A year that exceeds expectations for one level may barely meet expectations for the next level up. Moving up when you aren't ready to do so may make you look worse rather than better.

  • It is also a recipe for firing or in some cases demotion with lower pay if you failed to deliver – VarunAgw May 5 '18 at 13:09
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Changing your title may make you look more impressive to prospective employers until they look at what you actually did. You are probably not impressing anyone at your company. And your employer may not be happy when your colleagues start clamoring for getting the same title as yours.

Having the title of senior developer may make it more problematic for you if you decide to go for a better paid role as developer at another company.

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    Why would it be "problematic?" I don't follow. – Casey Jul 28 '15 at 16:29
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    How will prospective employers find out what I actually did? – svick Jul 28 '15 at 18:50
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    @svick From reading what you wrote on your resume and interviewing you. Why are you asking such an obvious question? – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 28 '15 at 19:39
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    @Casey You gave yourself a title as "senior developer" at your company. Then you apply for a position as "developer" at another company because their "developer" position pays better than your current "senior developer" position. What's wrong with this picture? – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 28 '15 at 19:43
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    @svick I have interviewed my share of candidates and made them disgorge the truth. Don't think for a moment that you are going to tell me anything and that it's going to go past me. If you claim you were a senior developer, I will question you closely as to you did to justify your claim of being a senior developer. I will ask ask you questions to see how you approach problem solving as an alleged senior developer. Eventually, the truth comes out as I keep digging. You tell me until I believe you are for real or until I conclude that you are just another poseur. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 28 '15 at 19:50
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If the title doesn't have any [a] increased responsibility or [b] increased pay or benefits, then its not worth it. Think about your next employer who will ask you "so how did your deliverables change once you were promoted to senior developer" - how do you expect to answer that?

Will improving the job title improve my perceived status in the company? Is this something more than just a small personal win? (Most developers in the company don't have any formal titles.)

No it most certainly will not, as there is nothing to define the difference between a developer and a senior developer (as you said, there are no formal titles).

Further your "perceived status" is affected more with your performance, your interaction with your colleagues, and how you work in a team environment than anything else.

You could have any title you choose and it won't automatically make your colleagues step back and look at you in a positive light.

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    Might help with hiring managers not saavy enough to ask this question. – Myles Jul 28 '15 at 15:57
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Does it make sense to ask for a better job title (e.g. senior developer instead of developer) when negotiating with my current employer?

Sometimes. Job titles have some effect when dealing with clients, when dealing with others in the organisation, and when dealing with possible future employers. If you want any of those people to think that you're a "senior developer" rather than a "developer", then there's a potential benefit in changing your job title.

Will improving the job title improve my perceived status in the company?

In your company, where people currently don't have formal job titles, I doubt it. But it's down to the personality of the people you work with. Consider whoever sits at the desk next to you. If they were given the job title "senior developer" tomorrow, would you be impressed and defer to their newly-increased status? Would you assume that they're in charge of all future projects in which they work with mere "developers" like you? Or do you actually already have ideas about your colleagues' seniority, that a mere change of title won't alter?

Is this something more than just a small personal win?

If it's just the title then it's personal. If the management are going to back it up, by actually giving you a different role from the less-senior developers, then that's another matter, but that could happen with or without a change of title. Just negotiating for a different title isn't going to make them give you a different role.

If you're already acting as a senior developer, that is to say the mass of mere "developers" do already defer to your experience and skill, and perhaps you're paid at the top end already, then having different job titles to reflect different roles is more than just a personal thing. But for the organisation to reap any benefits they need more detailed job titles to be available for everyone. The fact they haven't done this suggests they don't see any big benefits for your organisation.

Just doing it for you wouldn't deliver the benefits, and might cause serious problems, unless you clearly are the most senior of all the developers and therefore changing just your title makes some kind of sense. If that person at the desk next to you is clearly junior to you, and showed up one day with a new job title "senior developer" and yours was still "developer", I suspect that wouldn't make you happy. Your employer probably won't want to give you a title that's misleading in the context of the titles of your colleagues.

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In my experience, most medium or larger companies have specific conventions for what different title levels mean. They're not (supposed to be) just honorifics, but rather indicators of responsibility and expectation. A senior developer will be expected to work with less guidance, to give guidance and mentoring, and to work at a level that has higher impact across the company.

Are you working at that level? In that case, discuss with your manager; describe what you're doing, and ask for your title to be changed to reflect your performance.

Asking for the title first and then promising to live up to it is the wrong way around. If you happen to be at a company where the culture accepts this, then, the titles will be correspondingly devalued. If you work at a company where titles and promotions are taken seriously based on performance, then they often are seen as meaningful by others in the company who may not yet have worked with you first hand. This is, however, a double-edged sword: it may get you into engagements you wouldn't have been considered for otherwise, but you'll also be judged by a higher standard and expected to live up to your title.

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    I work for a very large company and I can vouch for this answer, I'd add that one convention that is carried with a specific job title is the allowed compensation range they can allot to someone with that title since as others have posted title goes hand and hand with promotions. I recently had an offer from another company and my current company had struggled to initially offer comparable base salary in the window for the job title they matched against citing reasons of internal equity. If another title was on the table such constraints would have not been an issue. – jxramos Jul 28 '15 at 21:57
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Job performance will be more important if wanting to ask for a better raise than what is currently offered.

If you want to have additional responsibilities (team leader, architect, design...), then you will need to ask for them; maybe there is a need for that, then you will have to sell yourself to them and tell them that will make them make more money and have a better product in the end.

for the sake of argument, if tomorrow, your title change from "developer" to "senior developer", will you have the same level of performance as you have today? Will you do additional job that you cannot do today ?

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If most developers don't have a formal title then why should you? If it's not in your company's culture or infrastructure, then there isn't really any reason to want it or request it. If it is, then it should come with a pay raise and increase in responsibility as "Senior Developer" implies a certain level of professional experience and professional responsibility. Most Senior level positions I have seen require 3 years experience minimum and that is only if you are an amazing candidate. If you get this title and underperform, it will be a hit to your credibility at best, at worst you could get fired and take the hit to your credibility and you probably won't survive the resume weed out phase for the next company you apply to.

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Yes, but only if you are performing a Senior Developer role currently or are being asked to perform one, and your salary reflects at least the bottom end of that scale (typically roughly double the rate of a junior developer in the same company, in my experience)

In that case, you're not asking for a promotion, you're asking for your title to reflect your role, which is entirely reasonable. It may be that your salary and responsibilities have increased into that role over a period of time but never been formally recognized, in which case a further period of time in that role officially will help you in future.

If you just want the title, however, I wouldn't waste their or your own time: you risk them thinking you just want the title for the purpose of applying for your next position in another company, and you also risk having to justify a title that didn't really apply to your role. Better to keep things well within the realms of "true to reality".

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