I've been with my company for a little over 1.5 months. I was a driving factor to landing a multi million dollar contract. As a result our CEO offered me a promotion and asked me to come up with a $$ number it would take for me to accept it.

However the only information I have gotten has been the title: "Director of Software Development".

Upon asking for more information I was told to write a job description for him to review. So my question is:

In this situation is it better to play it safe (write the bare minimum responsibilities) or shoot for the moon (write my dream job)? Both options are viable given the open-ended-ness of the title.

Edit: My company is a startup

  • "In this situation is it better to play it safe or shoot for the moon " - that depends on the nature of the CEO. Write what you think he wants to hear. Jun 21, 2016 at 15:43
  • Why are you doing this and not HR? What was your previous (or current?) position now? Do you think you can handle the promotion? Have you talked to him or a senior executive like a VP about this? Honestly, I would say that this needs to be done by the company's HR department as they should be handling these sorts of requests (legal reasons). The salary question is fine, but the rest is quite unorthodox if it not a startup (which it does not sound like).
    – G.T.D.
    Jun 21, 2016 at 15:51
  • It is a startup. We just got really lucky landing big clients. Jun 21, 2016 at 16:00
  • 2
    The CEO wants to promote you Director of s/w Dev. Is that your dream job? Because what you should be writing down are the responsibilities of that role, not necessarily your "dream job" unless they align. If the CEO wants you to be Dir s/w Dev and you write a job spec for Head Monkey Juggler it's not going to go well. But you do have an opportunity to define the Dir s/w Dev job you want to do and that you think it should be. If that role works for you then this could be a great opportunity. But as WorkerDrone says, your message needs to be close to what your CEO wants to hear...
    – Marv Mills
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:03
  • 2
    Remember you will likely be responsible for the success/failure of whatever it is you write down.
    – mcknz
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:05

2 Answers 2


I often have people that work for me write up their own job role identifiers, including title. Since I work at a large company their title has to fit one of the 5k generic titles we have - so I get to squirm out of decision making on that.

This is often a successful process because I give the person a few parameters that I want. I often will say you are good at this or I need you overseeing this, or whatever. But they have direction.

So the first thing I would do is schedule an hour or two with your CEO and ask him what he envisions you doing. I would have a list of things you want to do and softly bring these up and see his/her reaction. Really this whole process should be a bit of back and forth.

First you need to work out what your position has to do, then you need to agree to do the things he/she needs you to do, and you have to figure out if you will have the time and ability to do the things you want to do.

A simple question would be what kind of budget and team you would have. That will determine if your position is "expert" or managerial. Maybe it is both.

The whole point I am making - and I can't answer this well - is you don't have much info. So this whole process should be back and forth until you are BOTH happy. Sounds like CEO is giving you a great opportunity. This isn't the time to hold them hostage barking out a list of demands. This is where you lay groundwork for both sides being happy. You don't need to undersell or shoot for the moon. A job description is not objectives or promises, it is about your position having certain responsibilities and workflows.

  • 1
    Good advice. Going to give other people a chance to answer before selecting answer. Jun 21, 2016 at 16:23
  • 2
    Always wait a day or two before selecting an answer.
    – blankip
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:28

My answer is really to tack onto blankip's answer and just give you a clear, consistent, and coherent process that is formatted linearly with some notes/points for discussion with individuals in your company.

  1. Meet with CEO; Discuss key points such as:

    • Position Vision; what are some of the expectations, goals, and duties this position would have to address and implement.
    • Hierarchy Status; is this considered a management role, is it apart of the management team, who is on the same level, who would it report to.
    • Authority; what kind of authority does this position have (can they hire, fire, approve/reject projects, stand in for certain roles, control of which department(s), etc.) can you evolve/change the role as needed for flexibility with the company's goals/plans.
    • Role; does the position meet with clients or do negotiating with clients, does the position have an adequate managerial structure beneath it to delegate too, are their plans to expand the department(s), does the position have the opportunity to evolve.
  2. Meet with CFO (or equivalent); Discuss key points such as:

    • Salary; what kind of budget does the company have with salaries and with this position, what FLSA status would the position fall under (and the salary amount), what are some of the benefits/perks (medical/dental/vision benefits, 401(k), time off, vacation, travel, flex time, profit sharing, etc.) that would be offered with this position.
    • Budgets; what kind of budgets does the company have with the department(s) this position monitors/oversees, what are the financial obligations of this role (approving expenses, payroll matters, preparing budgets for department(s), attending financial meetings, etc.), expansion plans or goals the position affects
    • Impact; how does the position affect the company's revenues and bottom line, what are some areas (of finance/accounting) where the position would be responsible for improving, what regulations must the position enforce or be knowledgeable about.
  3. Meet with CIO (or equivalent); Discuss key points such as:

    • Access; what software platforms or company programs would this position have access to, would the position receive company phone/tablet/laptop/etc, what areas of the aforementioned software/programs would the role be responsible for.
    • Control; what are some managerial/lead level controls the position would have to implement and monitor, what innovations or ideas would the position be responsible for concerning its department(s)
  4. Meet with the Department(s); Discuss key points such as:

    • Current Issues; what are some of the biggest concerns of the department(s), what kind of control or organizational structure(s) are they missing/require, what are some of the tools/resources available or unavailable to the department(s).
    • Mentality; how do the department(s) operate, what issues would the creation of this position bring up, how does the this position affect the organizational structure of the company (in relation to the department(s).
    • Morale; what are some issues (turnover, tardiness, excessive conflicts, etc.) observed in the department(s), what are things the department(s) like(s) about their jobs/roles.
    • Manager or Leader; does the department(s) need a managerial figure or a leader figure (why).
    • Other; what else do the individuals note about their department(s) that this position affects.
  5. Review & Implementation: Prepare a draft of the position requirements and have each of the above managerial levels review it (and revise it as needed). With a solid foundation and framework (i.e. you have a fully fledged and flushed out written up job description draft to show him), you can really get down to the details with the CEO if there are any discrepancies or additional items he/she would like to add you can go over them. Get final written approval from CEO & CFO.

  6. Offer Letter/Contract; have the CEO prepare a written offer letter stating you for the role and other additional stipulations that required and necessary.

  7. Continuous Redesign & Evaluation: If you accept the role, do not be afraid to redesign the role once you have first hand experience in it. Somethings may not need to be handled by this position where as others do.

These are just some key things to consider when making this role and discussing it with the various managers. Never be afraid to get input on this position as it could affect or have the chance to affect more or less than initially thought. Know that it might not be as extensive as I outlined above (i.e. fancy title not much more), there may not be as much management/executive interactions/benefits as noted.

Know your own limits if the position gets to be something that extends beyond your skill set (there might be the need to create lower level assistant positions to manage the responsibilities and duties). Important to consider too is the fact that a lot of responsibilities for success could be placed upon your shoulders (if the position is managerial/executive level) and the CEO will want results not excuses. Can you handle stress, pressure, and failure? Be wise and carefully consider this yourself and with your family too.

Do extensive research and reading into similar roles and job titles and ask questions to individuals in your company, friends, etc. that might be able to offer some insight. This is why these things are carefully planned out by HR professionals. Remember to include specifics in the job description as well such as salary, specific perks, location of the office, travel percentage, physical demands, boiler plate language, etc.

Best of luck :)

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