Salary Vs. Job Title: 10 Factors To Help You Decide Which Matters Most

Salary Vs. Job Title: 10 Factors To Help You Decide Which Matters Most
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 17 August, 2022
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Is job title or salary more important? The more practical among us may prefer the certainty of a fixed paycheck, but those with lofty aspirations may value a job title that gives them room to grow.

With the exception of self-explanatory job titles, such as those with specific keywords such as ‘Director,’ ‘Department Head’, or ‘Lead Programmer,’ which typically come with appropriately high salaries due to the seniority and expertise required, it can be quite a toss-up between the two.

It’s also important to consider the size and track record of the company in question. Startups, for example, tend to hand out high-level titles such as Chief Technology Officer or Chief Marketing Officer, and the more colorful variations such as ‘Director of Dollars and Cents’ or ‘Social Media Wizard’ to fairly young candidates.

That’s all good, assuming the company is actually turning a profit. But if these people were to move to a more conservative company, their unconventional job titles may set them back especially if they sound vague and ill-defined.

Is job title linked to salary? This depends on the company and their workforce policy. For some recruiters, a job title reflects the person’s responsibilities, duties, and their pay grade. In some cases, this answers the question, “do job titles really matter,” because for some, they are the basis for hirers to make decisions.

However, this is not always the case. Many HR managers look beyond the title and ask the jobseeker at their interview about the full scope of their work to get a better idea, beyond the job title, of what responsibilities the jobseeker actually handled.

Also read: Career Switch with Your Niche Role: Still Possible?

Let’s say you are already employed or about to be, and you are offered a grand job title but the salary isn’t quite what you wanted. This is when you ask yourself, “is job title or salary more important?”

With that being said, what factors should you take into consideration when trying to decide between a job that pays more versus one with a grander job title?

Need more guidance on industry salary trends? Head over to our Salary Guide.

Here’s a 10-factor checklist to give you some perspective:

Financial situation

Before you do anything else, first, be clear about what comes first among your goals, and what’s more important to you. A fancy-sounding job title is nice, but if it pays significantly less than option B, and you’re the family breadwinner or desperate for a cash infusion, the choice is clear.

But if you’re financially stable and can afford a slightly lower salary with better long-term growth prospects, this seems the wiser choice.

Also read: JobStreet’s Salary Negotiations Myths DEBUNKED

Motivation

Assuming you’re not in dire straits and don’t particularly need a big pay raise, the next question to ask yourself is, “What motivates you more?” We’re all driven by different motivations. Knowing what your key motivator is ensures that you remain enthusiastic and productive at your job.

Think about what excites you more -- money in the bank, or greater responsibilities at work? Don’t settle for one over the other because that’s the conventional choice. Do what’s right for you.

Also read: Need Workspiration? 40 Quotes To Keep You Motivated At Work

The big picture

What does the future look like to you? Do you see yourself doing the same thing five years from now, at the same company, or do you see yourself in a high level management position? Alternatively, maybe you’d prefer to be running your own business.

Whatever it is, aligning your career goals with your decisions will ensure that you remain on track to get to where you want to be over the next five years. In this case, when you ask yourself, “is job title or salary more important,” first find out what’s more important to you right now and in terms of your medium- and long-term goals.

Also read: 6 Secret Tips and Tricks to Planning Career Goals

Mental health

Stress and burnout take their toll and it’s important to always put your health first, particularly your mental health. In particular, the pandemic forced a radical switch in the workplace to a ‘new normal’ that many are still trying to cope with.

A fancy job title often comes with greater responsibilities – are you mentally up to it right now? Or is it best for you to ease up on the load? This is something that only you can decide for yourself.

Also read: 7 ways to stay motivated at work when you want to quit

Opportunities

Sometimes a great job title can act as an enticement to recruiters from other companies, or to managers within your present organization. What your title denotes could put you in line for better job opportunities elsewhere, promotion along the line, or even a lateral movement or transfer.

However, too lofty a title could price you out of the running if you want to move, whereas a lesser job title and salary could put you in line for growth at another company that will have more to teach you than your present organization.

It’s up to you to keep an eye out for shifts in the wind and scenarios that could herald better things for you either inside or outside your present company. Learn to be savvy and think future-forward and big-picture.

Clout and respect

Often the offer of a better job title comes with more responsibilities and people to manage. If you were promoted from the ranks and your new subordinates are people you were on the same level with as before, they might resent your new role. A better job title may give you the authority you need to assert yourself in your new position and gain more respect within the company.

However, depending on your company culture, others knowing that you got a salary bump confers more clout than a job title. Make sure you are aware of the nuances of corporate culture within your organization.

Personal priorities

When deciding between job title or salary, ask yourself which is more important to you personally. Are you the kind of person who wants the pay commensurate with your effort, and are not as particular about the job title? Or is the job title, that can set you up for future growth, more significant to you? At this point, also check in with your personal values. Which of the two – job title or salary – aligns more with your values and personal priorities?

Mentorship

Is learning from your peers and higher managers important to you? Sometimes a fancy job title may lead potential mentors to think you don’t need their help anymore. If advice and guidance from someone who’s walked the same road and reached the top matters to you, then perhaps it’s better to forego the title, especially if the salary remains the same.

Instincts

However torn you might be between your options, if you search your feelings closely enough, you’ll be able to hear your instincts telling you which way to go. We often tend to suppress our instincts due to self-doubt and fear of making the wrong decision, but our gut is rarely too far off.

Scientific studies on intuition have proven that trusting our instincts often leads to better outcomes than trusting our logical, thinking brain. Deep down, you already know what you should do. You just need to believe in yourself.

Friends and family

It’s always a good idea to ask trusted friends and family members to weigh in. Ask them which option they think you should go for. You don’t have to take their advice, but getting an alternative perspective on the matter might help clear your mind and put things in focus.

They’ll know you well enough to be honest with you, but they’ll also be able to evaluate your options with a degree of objectivity, which is always important.

Do job titles really matter?

We trust that our 10-factor checklist will help you navigate your decision-making process when you ask yourself, “Is job title or salary more important?” This is an important decision that many of us will need to take at some point in our lives. When that happens, listen to your instincts and do what feels right. Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith to discover new horizons.

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