The Great Debate: Salary Versus Job Title

Posting date: 27 Oct 2022


When you’re looking to move into a new role what do you value more? A higher salary or a job title that provides increased status. This question has been debated among professionals, employers, families, and friendship groups worldwide for decades.

Both are critical elements in one’s career development and trajectory. Job title helps set the pace for your professional identity and pay is vital to sustain or elevate your everyday life.

It goes without saying that salary plays a huge factor, especially in these times when the cost of living is on the rise every day. However, many of us can’t escape our psychological need for the (actual or perceived) status that a more senior job title affords us.

We recently asked our LinkedIn network of senior professionals this very question; what motivates you more, salary or job title?

Perhaps unsurprisingly salary trumps status. 50% said a salary increase is more motivating than a change to the job title. However, almost half (45%) also said that salary and job title are equally important.  

Does company culture trump both?  

Some respondents in our poll argued that the more senior you become the more salary becomes just a ‘hygiene’ factor. And what matters most is the culture of the organisation and the role itself. Things like:

·        Exciting projects/organisation/mission

·        Autonomy over workload, team, and budget

·        Scope to drive organisation-wide transformation

·        Flexibility to work wherever, whenever, and however

Since the pandemic, we have seen an increasing number of professionals seek out employment with organisations that care about their well-being in addition to all the above.

Candidates place more importance on work-life balance, spending time with family and friends and looking after their physical and mental health. The desire for remote working and the preference for a hybrid working environment is here to stay. Working from home is no longer a nice to have but a necessity for most. With 1 in 3 people thinking of quitting their jobs due to burnout, it makes sense that more and more people are prioritising work-life balance over changes in pay and job titles and we believe this trend is set to continue.

Although professionals are generally widening their search radius from home, as increased remote working provides more flexibility, those that are required to work from an office (even one or two days per week) are very aware of the time and cost implications that a commute brings. Increasingly, therefore, candidates expect employers to raise starting salaries, in part, to cover these travel costs, which is a new expectation entering salary negotiations post-pandemic.

In addition, workers increasingly want to align themselves with purpose-driven organisations. The desire to connect emotionally with an organisation’s beliefs is becoming more prevalent for more individuals across all generations. People increasingly just don’t want to work for, invest in, or buy from companies that lack values beyond maximising shareholder value.

 The importance of job title for career satisfaction  

Although only 5% in our poll value a change in job title the most - the importance of the right job title, to enable career satisfaction, was not lost on our respondents:

Sociology professor Jeffrey W. Lucas discovered that giving higher-status jobs to high-performing employees resulted in "greater satisfaction, commitment, and performance and lower turnover intentions".

Even if a new title doesn't change a person's structural ranking, a simple change to communicate an understanding and appreciation of the skills your employee holds can go a long way in motivating your workforce. 

The importance of job titles for hiring

There’s no doubt that a job title will help recruiters match someone to their next role; they indicate where a person’s career path has been and where it might be headed. However, the comments pulled out in our poll highlight the importance of human connection in the hiring process.

At Stanton House, we look beyond job titles and believe in a relationship-based approach to finding talent. We get to know our candidates, understanding their experience, capabilities, and motivations to ensure a perfect match. 

With so many factors going into finding the perfect role we believe many professionals can have it all. Our experienced recruitment consultants are on hand to do all the hard work for you. 

If you’re ready to take the leap, browse our latest opportunities in Accountancy & Finance here. Alternatively, get in touch to speak to one of our recruiting experts.