What's my job title?
June 6, 2014 5:46 PM   Subscribe

So, along with a raise, I'm getting a new job title to recognize what my actual duties are, and I can choose it myself — but I'm no good at titles. Non-profit communications folks, can you weigh in?

Asking this anonymously because I don't need my employers seeing this:

This is the end of a process that started in November, but one major shift happened — my boss left. So now I'm doing part of his job, plus there's an outside consultant doing the other. I've been leaning toward "communication manager" or "communication coordinator" but despite seeing them in other job ads, I'm not totally sure which fits better:

I work at a non-profit and am the primary communication staffer right now; my current title is "communication associate." I do the drafting for nearly all press releases, member communications and social media. I also maintain the websites (five of them, with sub-pages), and am the primary maintainer of the member database. I manage one employee — a part-time designer — and occasionally some interns. I'm being asked to step up again and take over all of the scheduling for the department, and coordinating all that scheduling with the other departments. (Which is OK, it comes with a raise.) I don't, right now, set any broader strategies mostly because when I have, we haven't had the budget to follow through on them, and our org is currently transitioning (again) to a new ED, who starts in September.

The only proscribed title is "communication director," as they still hope to fill that position from outside. My previous boss recommended that I get it, but various internal politics weigh against that.

The other jobs I've been looking at that really seem like they'd be awesome are Public Information Officers for various governmental and quasi-governmental organizations, but I'd also be interested in a communication director position if one came up that was a good fit.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total)
I'd go with Communications Manager, which is more prestigious than coordinator. The hierarchy as I've often seen it in non-profits is:

- Assistant
- Associate
- Specialist
- Manager
- Assistant/Associate Director
- Director
- Senior/Executive Director
- Vice President
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:58 PM on June 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, Communications Manager is way higher-ranking-sounding than Communications Associate. In places I've worked it's like assistant, associate or coordinator or officer, manager, director.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:07 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd also go for Communications Manager. Where I work, we have a Communications Coordinator and she is on the same level as an Administrative Assistant so I don't think that would reflect what your job is.
posted by winterportage at 6:28 PM on June 6, 2014

Communications Manager. Because then when someone asks if you have managerial experience, you say "of course, I was comms manager".
posted by Spurious at 6:55 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Semi-seriously, I think you and I might be posting to Askme from only slightly different parallel universes.

I am also the sole communications person at my non-profit, because the communications director recently left, and we have a part-time communications consultant (who basically can't use a computer? ugh).

The only reason I know that I didn't write this post during some kind of blackout is because I already, like within the past two weeks, chose communications manager.

When I started off at this org a couple of years ago, I was "associate." I know there are some fields where associate has a different meaning, like in agencies or firms, but here it was just a fancy word for assistant. I did my job, and then also took over the "e-communications manager's" job when he was fired, for another 6 months before I got a new job title: "communications project manager." Politically (and financially) I think they were not comfortable giving me the bump all the way up to straight manager so quickly, although I was doing the work. My boss, the former comms director, didn't like "coordinator" even though that's the natural non-profit progression from assistant/associate.

Once the director was leaving, she didn't really care what my new title would be, and they were desperate for me not to leave, too, so I got to pick whatever job title I wanted. I chose "manager" basically because that's what the job postings that appeal to me are called (along with Public Information Officer). I actually could have gotten the director job if I wanted but I do not at any cost want to report directly to our ED. I plan to spend 6 months as the unofficial "acting communications director" and official "communications manager" and then peace out. Also there was talk of possibly "assistant director" but that would kind of imply a bigger department than just two people; sounds kind of stupid to just have a director and an assistant director only.

Also if your org has as much turnover as mine does, the new people will be more impressed and more likely to take you seriously as "communications manager" which is a job title people can basically understand (hierarchically, if not functionally).

Another option would be "Public Relations & Communications Manager." The reasons I say that are a) that's what I would have wanted because it's actually what some of the best-looking jobs (to me) have been called, but we don't actually do very much PR at our org; and b) it helps steer your communications track toward PR/Public Information versus more marketing.

TDLR manager.
posted by thebazilist at 7:23 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just don't do what I did. I had a similar situation, and accepted "Communications Technician". I was young and dumb.
posted by Pacrand at 7:34 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another nonprofit communications person here, and another strong vote for "Communications Manager." Manager is for sure better than "Associate" in typical nonprofit hierarchies. To add to thebazilist's suggestion, you might also consider "Media and Communications Manager."
posted by aka burlap at 8:00 PM on June 6, 2014

Nonprofit communications person here. Absolutely, absolutely "communications manager." Coordinator often carries a sort of administrative/junior association.

You may also want to consider adding something like "online" or "digital" to the title, ie, "communications and online manager." A little more awkward, but may help you stand out in future job searches.

Congrats on your promotion!
posted by lunasol at 8:01 PM on June 6, 2014

I'm also a non-profit comms person and in our shop you would be a Senior Communications Officer.
posted by looli at 8:15 PM on June 6, 2014

[er, meant to say that "manager" is for sure better than "coordinator."]
posted by aka burlap at 8:32 PM on June 6, 2014

You should check whatever titles you are considering against various salary research websites and choose the one with the highest average salary because the job title on your resume will affect your compensation in future jobs.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:37 PM on June 6, 2014

Please excuse me for being grumpy, but if there's no one you can fire, you're not a manager.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:07 PM on June 6, 2014

Please excuse me for being grumpy, but if there's no one you can fire, you're not a manager.

That's not true. I've been a manager twice with no direct reports.
posted by radioamy at 10:16 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreed; at a lot of places (especially in the non-profit or university realm) it means you manage "stuff," not necessarily people.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 10:31 AM on June 7, 2014

Also... well, who cares? If this place is willing to let her have the title, she'd be crazy not to take it, because the next place she works will pay thousands more to hire an "experienced manager" even if she has the exact same experience as an "experienced coordinator."
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:35 AM on June 7, 2014

Mouth of Sauron
Delphic Oracle

These are famous communications directors.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2014

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