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Should I Try to Have a Bad Job Title Changed before I Accept a Position?

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Question:

I've received what I think is a good offer for a legal in-house position at an international company. The work is sophisticated and I would have a significant amount of responsibility but the title is terrible. How important is a title? Should I push to have it changed before I accept the position?



Should I try to have a bad job title changed before I accept a position?


Answer:

That is a good question and I think the importance of a title depends on the job, the company and the industry. Job titles can be equal to badges of authority. For example, titles like Principal, Partner, Director and Doctor are obviously associated with individuals in positions of leadership and knowledge. Titles can impact how you are perceived both internally and externally and they can give you instant credibility. So that being said, if you are going to be in a position where you will have considerable client contact or you will be managing a number of subordinates, a title signaling a position of authority would be helpful to have. Also, if you are in a large legal department with several attorneys with varying degrees of responsibility, titles can help define a job function and provide a hierarchical structure that makes it clear who is responsible for managing processes and people. However, if you are at a company that doesn't have a large legal department with attorneys with various levels of seniority, the title for your position may be less important. If you are reporting directly to the General Counsel and have a significant amount of responsibility, it probably won't matter what your title will be. You'll have plenty of exposure to the General Counsel who will know exactly what you do and how you do it. You may be worried about what the title will look like on your resume - don't be. If you can communicate to whom you reported and for what you were responsible, future employers will be able to see what you are capable of, regardless of title.

The bottom line is - if you have a job offer that you're interested in, don't let a less than perfect job title stand in the way of accepting the position. Take the job, perform well for a year or two and establish a track record of high performance, and you may find yourself with enough clout to change the title you thought was holding you back.

Summary: How important is a job title to accepting a position? I think the importance of a title depends on the job, the company and the industry. Job titles can be…


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