Know what you want and what is missing from your current role says Kemetia Foley

At the turn of the calendar year, I hear the same whine comment from a few friends and family members: they need a new job.

Now mind you, it’s not the same friends and family members year-in, year-out, but it is a refrain—a very common one, either right after performance appraisals or as part of their New Year’s resolution.

I encourage you to look a bit closer as to why you might catch yourself saying this!  Let’s look at these scenarios:

New Job versus New Title

Reasons a person may want a new job

  • Boredom
  • Challenging boss(es)
  • No room for promotion or lateral moves
  • Has lost enthusiasm for the work
  • Wants a salary increase and the company has frozen salary changes
  • Wishes to take on tasks not included in position requirements
  • Has great ideas but, no opportunity and no encouragement to implement them
  • Commute has become unbearable or unaffordable
  • Too far from child care
  • Needs schedule flexibility the company can’t or won’t accommodate
  • Hostile work environment
  • Wants more vacation time (who doesn’t?)
  • Wants better company benefits


Reasons a person may need a new title, not a new job

  • The job requirements have changed while supporting the same manager(s)
  • The skills required do not match your job description
  • The level of work and skills ability required to do the job well, are not reflected in the compensation/pay rate
  • The position and/or the department are shifting or have shifted priorities or type of deliverable required
  • Additional reporting responsibilities and duties have been added to your workload from an internal, differently- titled position that was never filled, usually within the same department
  • You have attained a certification that was not required for the current position
  • You have successfully (key point here) taken on company-wide projects that use skills you have but rarely get to utilize in your current position
  • You enjoy additional work and responsibilities that provide challenge as well as provide some great growth opportunities.

Start by evaluating the situation on your own. What is that you really want from your role that is missing?  When the opportunity presents itself to discuss this concern with your supervisor, do so. Do not wait until your annual review date to bring this up. Address this early on and be proactive.

Key talking points for addressing your title with your supervisor.

  • Start with your understanding of the role
  • Be confident in the timing of bringing up this discussion
  • Have your talking points ready before addressing the questions. They may ask you to take time right then and there to discuss it. You will want to be prepared.
  • Talking points should include:
    • What prompted this (workload? Type of work?)
    • Current job description as written
    • Duties and responsibilities that are new and outside of scope
    • What do you want out of this dialogue (do you want the title to change, do you want the supervisor’s support to work with HR?
    • Do you just want an adjustment to your compensation and benefits to reflect the additional work?

Your supervisor(s) will reach out to HR to discuss next steps. Be prepared for this to take some time. It requires input and time from many parts of the organization.

Your responsibilities

1. Do your homework

Start by doing a thorough evaluation of your current job description. Is the job description accurate?

2. Document what has changed

What skills are required that aren’t listed? What kind of work output requirements are different than the ones listed? For example, if the current job description requires running reports from a set program versus the reality that requires a written report with analysis using multiple programs. Make a particular note if you have needed to pursue additional professional development to be able to take on the work outside the scope of the original job description.

3. Begin researching comparable titles in official government publications, job postings

Be sure to use the same geographic region for your search to ensure comparable information. Create your own table of job titles and pay ranges for evaluation purposes. This addendum to your report can be quite beneficial if your organization has a competing company in the same region.

As for asking peers in the organization for their own salary range, I would not pursue that avenue of research. I believe you can obtain enough information using external resources without putting yourself in an awkward and potentially difficult situation.

Do let one or two trusted colleagues know if you are trying to gather documentation to support a title change. They may be able to provide insights and documentation to provide your request with additional support from within the organization.

4. Keep a strict diary of your time

If your organization utilizes account codes by project, be sure to keep an accurate timesheet or recordkeeping of your time dedicated to each task. You may have to establish your own method of tracking tasks outside your current job description to ensure valid documentation. If you meet with your supervisor on a regular basis, I would bring this project to their attention. Let them know you either want or suspect you should have a new title based on the work you are doing.

Track this for a minimum of 3 months, ideally 5 to 6 months. You may be able to establish a measurable pattern, reflecting sustained work outside your current job description

5. Pay rate/Salary

If you allot five of the eight hours of your workday to a skill that is a key required skill in a higher paying position, be sure to calculate that measurement.

For example, if the current position has very general requirements at a pay rate of $17/ hr, but the specialized work you do now lends itself to a different job title with specific skills (not listed in your current job description) or certification at a rate of $26.50/hr, you want to calculate just how much salary you are missing out on!

The role of Human Resources

1. Job analysis

A human resources professional will conduct a job analysis,, a detailed study of a job to determine the exact nature of the work, the quantity and quality of output that is expected. They will need to evaluate the working conditions of the job, as well as ‘must have’ individual qualities as related to skill, abilities and knowledge/experience-base.

2. Job description

Using this measuring tool, the HR staffer can then draft up the job description which includes the job duties included (but, not all), the meetings, travel and coordination, and professional development requirements (activities), and the salary range for such duties and activities. If the position requires a certification or it lists as a preferred qualification, the job specifications (spec) will reflect it.

3. Job specification

When establishing the job specifications, the list would include education level, skill proficiencies, work experience, and the above-mentioned professional development, certification, or training considered to be necessary to succeed in the position.

4. Job evaluation

The HR professional then completes a job evaluation which is basically a benchmark of titles, the respective salary ranges as it applies to that position, against comparable companies within the same geographic region. The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics ( is one such resource tool, but not the only one used for this purpose.

Ideally, you and your supervisor(s) will have a clear, honest, and ongoing dialogue regarding your position and title. The burden is on the employee, not the supervisor, if the employee wants to seek better compensation and/or a title change. Gathering the data and making your case to your supervisor(s) saves them time and effort. Help the supervisor(s) be your ally, provide them the documentation and arguments they will need in order to support you when bringing the discussion to the Human Resources team.

If you determine that you want to stay within your company or your department, you still need to have that conversation with your boss. I’m not saying that you should walk into his/her office and boldly declare, “Well! I guess I’ll be staying on now!” But, do have that discussion about what it is that you love about your work, what resources you need to continuously improve in the position, or just discuss what your future path may be.

Once the process to pursue a title change starts, it provides you and your supervisor a more accurate picture of just how much of the position has changed. In the end, it may be that only the job description changes because although the skills required are different, they are still within the same spectrum of the job specification.

The documentation will still serve a secondary purpose as a strong foundation for your annual review or serve as solid information for updating your resume. Traveling through that process and gathering insights about your HR team is always going to be beneficial.

Kemetia MK Foley is a storyteller, stand-up comic, writer, and trainer. She is fierce, funny, and phenomenal – energetically delivering outstanding professional development courses since 2007. Kemetia has presented more than 200 training sessions and has ... (Read More)

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