Same job, but my new title makes me feel demoted — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Same job, but my new title makes me feel demoted

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Question: “Our company just reorganized and changed our job titles from Administrative Assistant to ‘Office Assistant.’ None of the job functions changed. Should we go to our manager and speak to him about our displeasure or just be quiet and not say a thing? I feel demoted and inadequate.”
— Unhappily 'Reorganized' Admin

See Comments Below.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Caydence James August 22, 2012 at 1:30 am

It is not just words on paper when you’re trying to get another job and the recruiter is merely scanning your resume and sees a title that doesn’t go along with what you actually did.

It is not just words on paper when people hear your job title, place value on you based upon your title and treat you differently (in this case in a negative way).

It is not just words on paper when you had the foresight not to take a job with a title that you didn’t want and then ultimately end up with a title that you would have otherwise carefully avoided.

Cash is ok if you don’t have any ambition other than just making the amount of money you’ve always made but if you want to move up or advance, chances are you’ve put a plan in place and a change this major is sure to derail it.

I’d be on a job hunt if they wouldn’t consider allowing you to submit a proposal for an alternate title.

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Tammy September 9, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Our administrative service department recently changed the title of our receptionist/secretary to that of Admin. Support Clerk. No change in pay or responsibility. They wanted it to be more “in-line” with the other support personnel title. Seems to be a ” corporate fashion trend” issue more than anything else. Personally, I’ve never been very impressed by titles. I believe that one’s role is much more important than the title assigned. If you do good work you will earn the respect of most people. Rememer, there will be some that never give anyone the respect.

While my title may be Admin. Assistant for a department director, my role is much broader: secretary, departmental payroll, payables, purchasing, data entry, research, grant writing, answering the phone, special projects, sounding board, budget control, etc.

The important thing is that I enjoy what I do, like who I work for, know I’m appreciated and get earn a good pay check considering the area where I live.

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Sally September 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I started at my company as a receptionist. However, my duties are NOT simply answering phones and doing little jobs here and there. After two years on the job, I spoke to my supervisor about my title and she agreed, saying that it had always been receptionist and needed to be updated. Now, I’m receptionist/data entry. NOT exactly what I was looking for but I am waiting to finish school and once I have my degree, I will be requesting another change. I’m not worried about the money, I get paid well, but it’s the respect that I am looking for. Right now, I am “only the receptionist”…

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Sandi September 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

My company did the same thing and it felt like a slap in the face. Office Assistant sounds like an entry level position and if you’ve been doing the job for a significant amount of time (over 25 years in my case) it feels like a demotion. Just because times are hard and you have a job, doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid. The majority of the people who responded only seem to care about times being hard. I feel your pain!

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Admin123 August 30, 2011 at 9:41 am

I think it sounds just as important; dont’ sweat the small stuff. If you plan to leave the company, explain the reorganization to your interveiwer as this is very common in the global world.

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Elixabeth August 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I think that you may want to take a close look at your actual job duties. Perhaps you really are only doing “Office Assistant” duties, and not “Administrative Assistant” duties. If this is the case, then it may have been the proper move to change your title.

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Donna August 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Focus on the job at hand and less on how you feel. In these days and times you must be grateful that you have full time employment. Be secure and satisfied in yourself and your accomplishments don’t let trival things such as a title take you off course of your personal goals. Be proud of your accomplishments no matter what title you have or not. The rewards will come just be patient.

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Trisha August 29, 2011 at 9:03 am

Do a little research on titles and salary in your city, state and even nationwide. Check out the Department of Labor and Statistics (if you’re in the U.S.), too. You can find a ton of information on-line. THEN go to your boss to voice your concern armed with the numbers you need to make your case. Title is NOT merely words on paper! When a company reorganizes, a lot gets changed… budgets being first on the list. It sounds like your company may be positioning itself to eventually lower the pay grades of folks in your particular position. I’m not saying that this may happen while you’re still in the position; they just might have another job in mind for you. But, I would be willing to bet that they will eventually down grade the position’s salary to match that entry level title. I seriously recommend doing the research on salary levels and title before meeting with your boss or you may come off sounding petty. Best of luck to you!

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Patty August 29, 2011 at 8:52 am

Hi Carol: Interesting that you mention being referred to as “secretaries”. I just had a conversation with one of our directors, and we both agree that the title of Secretary comes with a lot more respect that Assistant. I am an Executive Assistant to the COO and do not get the respect that I once received as a Secretary. A lot of it is due to the electronic age where everyone is equipped with the latest gadget, therefore, a lot of the “secretarial” duties are no longer required, so we are looking for more things to do.

Having said all that, I think there is a lot of weight in a title, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about it unless you are planning on leaving the company and that nothing else has changed for you.

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Becoming a Bold Admin August 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I am wondering why people feel admins need to walk around quietly instead of speaking up for themselves. I am sure each of us understand the value of having a job these days and are grateful. However, it does not mean that we have to become complacent and take whatever is thrown our way. Even though I don’t really get into titles either, however, I do think an employee moral is often times overlooked. As for me, our organization just gave us the titel of Administrative Assistant from Secretary. Of course I was called in and given the news along with understand with this comes no increase in pay. She should be able to go in and discuss with her boss the reason for the change in title without fear of retalition. There is a way to go about it as others have said, just be professional. There is nothing wrong with asking the questions. 1. Why the change? 2. Who was involved in the decision process? etc.

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Another admin professional August 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I agree with many others, you should voice your concerns with your manager, but make sure to be professional about it, not whiney. You can also fnd out their motive behind the title changes, will new positions be opening up & work loads restructured? You never did state what your job duties were, so that could make a difference as to the title. To me admin assistants support managers & directors. Office assistants support the whole office or department. I think a job title could potentially affect your resume, but most hiring managers will pay more attention to the tasks you list….

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Carol August 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm

They still refer to us as “secretaries” where I work. How archaic is that?! I agree that if you feel uncomfortable with this new title, then you should question it. Just for your own peace of mind.

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Karen August 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Now could be the time to put your resume together and start a job search. No grumbling or mumbling about it — it could affect your references.

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Carol August 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Don’t feel bad. Where I work we are all still considered “secretaries”. They refuse to change the job title to Admin Asst by saying they would have to change the whole system’s job descriptions. But I agree – if you feel bad about this change in title, then I would voice my opinion. There may be more to why they did it that they didn’t think they had to explain.

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Angela August 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Sad, but true, your title effects how OTHERS respond to and deal with you. Even though my title is Executive Assistant, I still hear those fateful words “well, aren’t you just the secretary?” so in some cases it will never matter to some people. Bringing it up in a constructive manner – perhaps you aren’t aware sort of framework, will definitely get you farther than using a negative spin. I think it is worth the effort for the present work situation, and if you decide to move on, it would seem to me that Office Assistant doesn’t begin to adequately capture the true nature of your duties.

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OMM... August 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Here are descriptions of both job titles: http://www.best-job-interview.com/administrative-assistant-job-description.html & http://www.best-job-interview.com/office-assistant-job-description.html. They are very similar. I’m sorry you feel the way you do. No one can make you feel that way without your permission. Perhaps there has been some tension between you prior to the job title change that is making you feel that way? Which doesn’t necessarily mean the two are related. You never know what is going on behind the scenes. But our emotions can cause us to make certain assumptions sometimes.

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Chris August 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Unless the new title is coming along with a pay increase I would speak up and let them know how this new title makes you feel. Also stress that since you are no longer in an “Administrative” role people may treat you differently.

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Mindy August 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I question why your title needed to be changed in this re-organization. When interviewing for a position will a potential employer think you can be offered less since your last position was an “Office Assistant” verses an “Administrative Assistant”? I agree these are just words on paper but how will it effect your resume should you need to go elsewhere? I would ask my HR manager how she/he perceives these titles and does it effect pay scales. Bottom line though if you are feeling demoted and inadequate, I would certainly talk to my direct supervisor.

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Glenda August 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Did the pay change? If the duties and the pay did not change, then it is only the title that changed. And it was not just you who had their title changed, it was others, too. I personally don’t think you should feel demoted and inadequate just because of a title. Would you think your best friend had been demoted or was inadequate if she had this happen to her? It wouldn’t think that someone would make the assumption that you were less educated or less experienced than an “administrative assistant” just because your title is “office assistant”. I hope that you can get beyond this because if you feel like you have been demoted and are inadequate it will show in your work.

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Mark August 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I would speak to them in a professional, “Can I make a suggestion” kind of manner, as opposed to a complaining kind of manner. Point out that a job title is something that psychologically affects job satisfaction. Several studies have shown this. (We, for example, adjusted titles many years ago. Tellers became Member Service Representatives, Loan Clerks became Loan Representatives, Teller Supervisors became Member Service Administrators, the Accounting Clerk became Accounting Administrator, and so on.) I would approach it from the aspect of it being a job enhancement that does not cost them a single penny. (The catch, of course is if they already printed business cards, then there is an expense in making the change. But if you all dislike this title so much, maybe it would carry some weight if you told the boss “We will all even pay out of our pocket to have the business cards re-printed.”)

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msr August 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Things to consider: are you being treated with the same respect or has the level of treatement you receive from the people you support gone down due to the title change? Has your paycheck or benefits been altered? Have your work hours or work conditions changed? A title is just words, your work should be what defines you. Also, this could be part of a long-term strategy. I once worked for a company who went through something similar and titles got changed around. In the long-run, it was done to allow promotions to exceptional support staff and to have different levels of pay based on work load and work quality. Took some getting used to in the short term but proved to be better over the next few years.

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Betty August 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm

The same thing happened several years ago at our organization. We are non-profit and they wanted to realign our positions to match some national survey on job titles. Needless to say, I went from an Administrative Assistant to a Department Secretary because I only report to a Director and a Manager. The workload increased and I do more work than the admins in our organization. There is nothing I can do but accept it. Not much help but wanted to let you know there are others in your position.

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Marty August 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I’m sorry you are in that situation. I would feel the same way because our organization has ‘Office Assistants’ and they are 2 levels below administrative assistants as far as responsibilities and pay grade. I can’t think of any way it would hurt for you to voice your discomfort and concerns. That doesn’t mean it will change but often these types of changes are shortlived as everyone is uncomfortable with them.

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Debbie August 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I would be displeased about the title change. Personally, I would say something to my boss as it is a downgraded title and if your responsibilities have not changed, neither should your title. Office Assistant sounds like an entry level position and people do go by titles when trying to get the answers they need. To me it is a matter of principal. I wish you luck!

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Lynn August 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I would encourage you to focus on your job, not on your title. I’m assuming your pay didn’t change? Do the best work you can and you will be recognized and rewarded.

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a comment by jm August 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm

A title is merely words on paper. The real justification for a job well done is the amount of cold hard cash that you take to the bank!

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Min August 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm

In today’s unstable times, I would be inclined to keep quiet and just keep doing my same job as well as usual. Be thankful that your company’s reorginization did not result in the depleting of your position altogether, as is happening with lots of companies these days. A title does not a person make; your job performance reflects who you really are.

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