Navigating a role change at work
November 4, 2014 3:09 PM   Subscribe

I've been with this smallish company for about 8 months, and was approached today about a potential role change. I'm wondering how I should navigate things.

So, this is my second "real" job after doing a humanities PhD. I kinda talked my way into the job: I approached the company, said I had this skill set and here's why you can use it, and they at first told me they were interested but had no opening. Then suddenly an opening came up, and they hired me to what was a pretty basic job (simple research and writing) with the idea that the role could change in time.

Since then, I've added a few tasks to my workday, and my employer seems pretty pleased with what I've been doing. The most recent thing I did was to come up with what is a sort of a very basic content marketing plan for one of the products they have that has been languishing for a while. It's early yet, but so far the results are good.

Anyway, at the same time as this, we've had a marketing/communications firm doing an audit, and they're going to be giving us their plan next week. Part of the plan will be to invest more heavily in marketing, using this outside party. My boss wants somebody internal to help manage things and liaise between our company and the third party, and has suggested that it should be me. So I'd be in charge of implementing things and coordinating between our two companies.

This all sounds great, but it also sounds like they're not in a position to hire somebody to take over my duties. I told my boss straight up I thought I'd be far more valuable to them doing the new role, but also that to do it properly would take more time than I have in the day right now. He said he's going to see if he can figure out a solution, but in the meantime I have a lot of questions, and I am wondering how I should proceed.

Here are my main questions:
1) My boss seems to want me to continue to do my current gig, but also seems to realize that I'm more valuable doing this other role. I don't think I can really give both jobs 100%, and I'm more interested in the new role. How should I approach this diplomatically? He's a nice guy and I have told him that I was worried about capacity, and also that I thought I could deliver more value to the company in the second role, but I think he also likes the work I do in my main writing role and is worried about replacing that / not in a position to add that salary.

2) I feel as though these new responsibilities warrant some kind of title change and/or a promotion-level raise, but I really don't know, as I've never worked in this kind of a situation before (small company, few rigid policies around this type of thing--it's a small shop where people just pitch in and do different things a lot of the time). I also don't know what kind of a title would be appropriate. The company may be relaxed enough that I could at least propose at title, but I don't know what. The job's coordinating between the two parties as well as implementing a content marketing strategy, on top of other writing/editing/research tasks. I'd like to, at this point in my life, have a title that sounds a little less entry level.

3) I really don't have any experience in marketing. I'm a strong writer, good with language, and if there's one thing I can do really, really well it's learn stuff. But I am slightly nervous that I won't be a good person to be this liaison because I lack that experience (not that anyone else in the company has it--that's part of why we're outsourcing).

So this ended up being way longer and more rambly than I intended but I'd just like some advice on navigating what could be a few tricky conversations with my boss (who is, fortunately, a very nice, kind, reasonable person). Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You have to know what you want, and then ask for it. Do not agree to do both jobs.

Get on LinkedIn and Glass Door, and start looking at various marketing jobs and see which ones most closely fit what you're being asked to do. This will help you select your new title.

Next, put together two job descriptions. The first for the job you're doing now, the second for the new job.

Thirdly, research salaries for both positions. You will be asking for a new salary about 75% between what you're getting today, and what that title actually gets. You SHOULD be able to get 100% of the going rate, but given the constraints, I'm trying to be realistic.

If there are duties that you enjoy and that naturally dovetail with the new gig, include them in the job description.

I suspect that what we're looking at is one and a half jobs. Your new job in which you have about 65% new marketing duties and 35% of the stuff you're doing today.

The remainder of the stuff can probably be done by an Intern. There are people who may be willing to do a co-op through a university, or come in part-time or perhaps the different duties can be scattered among all those helpful, pitching in folks you work with.

Go in armed and with suggestions. I find that if there's a vacuum, where a boss is waiting for you to jump in and say, "I'll do it!" that it's best to fill this void with a suggestion that WON'T have you working a 60 hour week.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:35 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would absolutely expect a title change if you are doing a new job. It sounds like "communications coordinator" as a job title would fit the bill. Hey, if your office isn't doing communications, why not try for "communications director?" If that's too senior, maybe "communications officer." I definitely like senior-sounding titles. "Head of strategic communications." I think some businesses use terms like "external communications" to refer to public relations. I guess part of it is the industry you are in and what's normal.

As for the two jobs thing, I once was in a sort of similar situation. I got a new, higher-level job in a company I was already working at. To ease the transition where I'd leave one branch for another, I did both jobs for a while. The problem was, the old branch was content to have me keeping doing both jobs as long as they could get away with it because they didn't want to absorb the tasks I had been doing. Eventually my new branch had to be like, "Look, it's been long enough. She's not doing her old job anymore." You're in a situation where as long as you're willing to do the work of two people, they will have you do the work of two people. That's why the exit strategy and transition needs to be set up front. Definitely be clear about what you want and the circumstances that will make you able to agree to this new job.

If you want to ask for a raise, I think you can. I think especially if you end up retaining any of your old duties, that's a great talking point that you'll be doing more work by doing a new job and retaining some of your other job functions, and you can also sell your office on that fact that you're bringing new value in the form of this new position.

It sounds like this thing isn't set yet, but definitely let them know you're really interested in this new job and would love to figure out how to make it work, but you don't think the long-term solution is to do both. Offer a finite, clear transition plan. Did you used to do something for a lot of people that each person could just do themselves? Did you used to do something that you needed another department for anyway and could be passed off to that other department? Think of some concrete things like that to propose a full transition, assuming they aren't willing to hire someone to replace you.

As you move forward, I would request specifics about how processes you currently manage will be managed once your position switches over. Get specifics on when your old responsibilities will be transitioned away from you and how. Everything just needs to be clear and figured out as much as it can be.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:59 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Regarding a raise, you might not be able to use market rate for the new role to determine your promo raise. Unfortunately internal hires are at a disadvantage here. I think you can ask for 15-20% increase on your current salary tops. Be happy with 10%.
posted by crazycanuck at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2014

I would assume that your current marketing-communications-research duties will be somewhat offloaded to the outside company, since it sounds like they're putting more resources and attention into the aspects of marcom that you've been spearheading. If your problem is that you won't be doing as much creative stuff, that's one thing, but in general it appears that the stuff you've been cutting trails on now requires more people and you are going to be the one to manage that. If you're OK with outsourcing more creative stuff that this outside company would be good at doing for your company, then just stay the course and try to offload to them. It will help you put down roots in the company if you are the local expert on what the company hired them to do. Now, this doesn't mean you're the creative director now, but taking on the Marketing Communications responsibilities does not paint you into a corner and is a very portable skillset.
posted by rhizome at 6:27 PM on November 4, 2014

I'd ask Alison over at You can send her the details via email, or she has an 'open thread' on Fridays where you can ask work-related questions.

Just MHO, but this sounds like it will be a fairly substantive change in role, and so some kind of promotion / raise doesn't sound unrealistic. At the very least, I'd ask - they might say no but they might say yes.
posted by doctor tough love at 6:53 PM on November 4, 2014

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