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What is Your Desired Job Title?

Edited by: Christa Reed

Content Creator and Career Writing Editor

You’ve decided to look for a new job. So now comes the question — what is your desired job title? There are lots of considerations to think through when deciding on the right title for your next role.

First, what does it mean to find your desired job title? A desired job title means different things to different people. However, there are six key factors to narrow down one’s desired position.

  • Type of Employment
  • Work Environment
  • Experience Necessary
  • Seniority Level
  • Management vs. Individual Contributor
  • Salary

Consider the following questions to think through these six factors:

6 Questions to Ask Yourself

Type of Employment Desired – What is your type of work desired?

The first and most important decision is what kind of work you are interested in. When thinking about this, consider what role you’d want and in what industry.

For role type, this means thinking about if you’d want to be in marketing, sales, engineering, finance, or some other specialty. Once you narrow this down, you can consider what industry you want to work in.

For example, if you wanted to be an engineer, you could work in the tech industry, the automotive industry, or even the food industry. If you wanted to be in sales, you could be in the software industry, consumer products, or in the services industry.

Pinpointing your desired role, as well as an interesting industry, are the two most important decisions. The rest of the questions that follow will help you continue to narrow your decision.

RELATED CONTENT: How to Choose a Career in 5 Easy Steps

What work environment will make you happiest and most successful?

After thinking about your role and industry, think about what kind of work environment will make you happiest. For example, if you are seeking a position as a lawyer, you could work in a huge law firm with thousands of employees, in-house at a corporation, or for a small nonprofit. Each of these would change your day-to-day activities, how much bureaucracy you may face, and what hours you may work.

While a job title won’t always answer the question of what the work environment will be like, it can give clues. If the titles include levels of seniority — like Director versus Associate — you can expect a lot of collaboration and teamwork. A more generic title without indicators of seniority may imply you’d have more independent work.

How much experience do you have in your desired job title?

When deciding on the right title for you, think about how much experience you have. Usually there are four different scenarios that can dictate what level of employment you should aim for. 

  • Director Level – You have worked in that role and industry for a long time. 
  • Management or Mid-Level – You have some experience in that role, but are new to the industry.
  • Entry-Level – You are new to the role and the industry.

The fourth scenario isn’t as clear cut and can sometimes depend on the industry. You could have experience in the industry, but not in that role. On one hand, you may have the opportunity to skip a few steps in the company hierarchy, even if you are new to the role. On the other hand, your inexperience in the role will be more important. In this case, it would be useful to utilize your network for advice on what position you would have the best chances at pursuing.

Is your desired job title a promotion or lateral move?

Are you looking for a new job because you’ve reached a ceiling in your current role? Or are you comfortable at your current career level but you want a new environment, manager, or some other change?

If you are the former, you’d be looking for a title that is above your current title. For example,

  • Associates apply for managerial roles
  • Managers apply for directorial roles
  • Directors apply for VP roles

In this case, you first need to gather evidence showing your success at your current level. Maybe your evidence involves metrics, successful projects, or certifications. Then you’ll need to put those things together to convince your potential employer that you’re ready for the next step.

If you are the latter looking for a lateral move, your process may be a bit easier. You will just need to communicate how your skills translate from one role to the next. It is important that you convey a level of confidence that reflects your direct experience with the role at hand.

At what level is the position desired?

When looking at your desired job title, it’s important to understand if you’ll be managing other team members or if you’ll be an individual contributor.

For most industries, it is possible to continually move up in career growth but remain an individual contributor. If managing people isn’t right for you, it’s important to ask your potential employer for insight on potential growth opportunities and what those would look like for you. For some industries and roles, management is the only way to move up the ladder.

It is important to keep in mind that the job title of “Manager” doesn’t always mean you’ll manage people. It can also mean you are managing a particular function within a company. That may be all by yourself. The job description, however, should indicate if the role involves managing people. 

Does your desired job title meet your salary expectations?

This is a big one. Salary at a given level (associate, manager, director) varies dramatically depending on the industry and role. A Senior Marketing Director and a Senior Engineering Director would vary a lot. So, you need to do your salary research.

While knowing the salary is important for deciding if you should accept or decline a job offer, it’s also important for negotiating. The most important part of negotiating is going in with evidence to support your price — competitors of the company you’re applying to and what they are offering and other salaries of similar jobs you’re considering.

More and more companies today are publicizing their salaries. In fact, in some states, it is now legally required to make salaries public before applying.

What About the Resume?

Once you’ve figured out your desired job title, it’s time to shape your resume to set yourself up for success.

The first way to tweak your resume is in the resume summary. Reference the role you’re looking for and why you’d be a good fit. This is especially critical if you’re moving to a new role type or seeking a promotion — your resume may not match what others are submitting and you’ll need to explain why you’ll be a good fit.

The second is in your key accomplishments. If you are applying for a promotion, make sure you include metrics where you’ve exceeded goals, showing you are ready to move up in your career. If you are seeking a position that manages people, include accomplishments on the size of the team you’ve managed and the accomplishments you led your team to achieve.

Finally, consider references who have similar jobs to the one you’re applying for. That way they can speak to both what the role requires and what they know of you and connect the dots for your employer.

Where Can I Start?

Maybe you’ve had an “Aha” moment while reading this article, and you know exactly what to go for. Maybe you’re still on the fence. If you’d like to check out some common job titles for entry-, mid-, and senior-level positions, then our list below gives 10 job titles for each that are on the rise and tend to pay well.

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