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  • Writer's pictureJessica Davey

Would you turn down the perfect job, just because the job title isn't right?

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

You have found the ‘perfect’ job. The product is exciting. The people and culture sound great. The learning opportunity is incredible.

But there is just one thing stopping you from saying ‘yes’. The job title is not what you were looking for.

Perhaps you were ideally looking to step up to your first ever Chief Financial Officer job, but this is another VP position. Perhaps you have been a Chief Risk Officer for your last three roles, so why would you take a Director of Risk role now?

When speaking to candidates, I often get a mixed response about job titles. For some, having the ‘right’ title is an absolute non-negotiable. For others, they are indifferent on the matter, as long as the package is right, the team is impressive or, simply, the challenge excites them and gets them out of bed every morning.

There is no right or wrong answer, but it is important to assess every job opportunity individually before discounting it for any one reason – whether that is title, salary or product.

It is very easy to think X and Y would never be negotiable for you, but how can you say that if you have not heard about every single company and every single job in the world? Personally, I do not believe in non-negotiables. Everything is negotiable. But hey, I am a headhunter after all. 😉

Sometimes a client asks me to support them on a role that has all the ingredients to make it a C-Suite position. But for various reasons, which I encourage you to consider and/or question before ruling it out, they have called it VP/Director.

It could be because:

  • They are a start-up and do not have the budget for a C-Suite Executive…just yet

  • They believe in promoting from within and want this person to fast track to C-Suite

  • Bringing in a C-Suite right now would destabilise the incumbent leadership team

  • A C-Suite hire sounds really scary (although they would never admit to it!) and the first-time Founders feel more comfortable bringing in a VP/Director for now and then promote when the time is right

As an executive search consultancy, Belong’s job is not just to headhunt talent. It is to support, advise, be a sounding board and, a lot of the time, hold a mirror up – to both candidates and clients.

Sometimes that means presenting an opportunity to a candidate that they would never have considered before, but for good reason.

Perhaps I know this candidate has been extremely burnt out in their past few roles and I know my client offers an amazing work/life balance; perhaps I know this candidate wants to work for a business with a really meaningful, impactful product and I know my client is doing something ‘for good’/‘socially responsible’; perhaps I know this candidate has had an awful experience with toxic work cultures previously and my client is incredibly values-driven, ethical and passionate about their people.

As long as the headhunter you are dealing with explains to you the reason why they are wanting to make you aware of this opportunity and it makes sense to you, take the time to consider it. But if they are just trying to shove a round peg into a square hole and wasting your time, stay true to your non-negotiables…and you know where I am for next time. 😉

I’ll always ask and listen to what is important to you, as a candidate, for your next opportunity (not one person has the same answer!). I’ll try to understand what your decision-making process is – what are your true non-negotiables and negotiables.

I will not answer your question for you, but I will advise you to ask yourself these questions:

If you went ahead with this job title:

  • Would you gain new/more experience in this role that will ultimately progress your career or would it be a sideways/backwards step? (Obviously we want to avoid the latter!)

  • Would there be an opportunity to progress to the job title you want after a successful 3-6 months in the role?

  • Does the opportunity itself fill you with excitement – would it get you out of bed every morning?

  • Would you be working with good, decent and like-minded people? (Possibly the most important factor for all of my candidates.)

  • Is this job unique? At your level of seniority, you do not come across great opportunities with great companies every day. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, just because it is not a perfect job title.

  • Does it tick other, very important boxes, such as:

- They offer remote working, so you can spend more time with your family; pick your children up from school; pursue your hobbies or side hustle; or fulfil your dream of relocating and working remotely

- The package is very good – perhaps they are a start-up who can’t afford a C-Suite title/salary, but you will make serious money with the options/equity

It is worth saying that sometimes the job title is VERY important.

For example, perhaps you have been in VP roles for the last 3 positions and you really need to break that C-Suite ceiling. Perhaps this specific role doesn’t set your world on fire at all, it will not bring any value to your career and you would just be moving for the sake of it. In those scenarios, if you are not desperately unhappy, I would suggest sitting tight and waiting for the right role.

At Belong, our job is so much more than headhunting. It is to listen, support, advise, be a sounding board and hold a mirror up.

However, only you know what is right for you.

All I ask is for you to be open.

"It's through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we've always mapped our path." Michael Dell

“Success is not a straight line, it’s much more of a dance and being open to possibilities.” Arianna Huffington

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