Fixer: Will my job title hold me back?

12 Jul 2018 By PM Editorial

Will future employers see past a discrepancy between my duties and my title?

I am an HR business partner and have been for several years, as I’ve grown my role and responsibilities in our organisation. In practice, the role I undertake is head of HR for a global business function, partnering with our business leaders to create HR strategy. Despite having raised concerns that my title does not match my job or salary, the VP of HR is unwilling to do anything about it, citing a flat global structure and comparisons to colleagues overseas. I love my job but worry that my title is falling behind my experience. Should I accept it? And how will future employers view it?

I understand why this matters to you. We all want to feel our title and pay are reflective of our experience and value to the organisation. I also understand why your company wants to keep the number of job titles and the structure of its HR department in check. My worry is that the issue might become emotive for you and sensitive for your employer, which won’t want to disrupt its hierarchies. You don’t want to end up leaving because of a job title.

Why not try and find a compromise? Lots of people have one internal job title and a different one for the outside world. Your VP may be amenable to that if you explain that you feel your achievements deserve greater recognition (I wouldn’t, however, link it to salary).

At the same time, put your title in perspective. I have seen plenty of HR business partners who are doing complex, senior roles involving plenty of strategy. Recruiters are more than aware of this, and tend to set much less store by titles nowadays. 

I went from a head of HR and OD role to being an HR officer in a multinational, a job with far more responsibility globally and more challenging projects. It didn’t hold me back – quite the contrary: my next role was HR director. We trust and value people who solve problems for us, not those who are the most senior, so keep proving your worth – that’s the bigger battle, not what you’re called.

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