Guidelines for the Use of Working Titles

The new University compensation and classification structure provides University classification titles that are descriptive of the work performed. However, when a more specific title would serve the unit’s operational interests, a working title may be used to describe the function of the position in even greater detail or more easily recognized terms in both internal and external communications.

A “working title” should more clearly or precisely describe the function, responsibilities or scope of an individual job assignment, and thereby provide a more immediate understanding of the job in business communications. Employing units may use working titles to differentiate between similar roles in a workgroup, or to distinguish between similar specialties within a classification. The working title should use those terms that are most easily recognized and understood by internal and external constituencies.

Acceptable Use of Working Titles

Working titles may be used in lieu of the University classification title for:

  • Searches and job postings
  • Local job descriptions and employee personnel records
  • Regular business correspondence, both internal and external to the University, and
  • The public University directories, both printed and online (effective with the transition to the new job classification structure in July 2011).

The University job classification title will be the default if no working title is established.

Determining the Need for a Working Title

In determining the need for a working title, the supervisor and staff member should consider the following:

Step 1: Does the University job classification title adequately describe the function of the job assignment for professional business communications inside and/or outside the University?

  • If yes, there is no need to request a working title.
  • If no, continue to question 2.

Step 2: Are there other terms that would more specifically and accurately describe the function of the job assignment, and provide more immediate recognition?

  • If yes, go to question 3.

Step 3: Would a working title provide a more accurate and recognizable understanding of the relationship between jobs and/or functions within a work unit or organization?

  • If yes, review the University Guidelines for the Optional use of Working Titles and any additional guidelines your College/Division/Organization may establish for the use of working titles.

Staff members and supervisors should discuss their interest in a working title with their departmental leadership and Unit Human Resources Representative. When an appropriate working title has been identified, the Unit Human Resources Representative will initiate the formal request in Self Service.

Working titles must be approved by the Senior Human Resources Leader for the college/division prior to use. The Senior Human Resources Leader’s review and approval will be based upon compliance with the University expectations below, and any additional organizational guidelines that may be established within a specific college or division. The Senior Human Resources Leader may include consideration of the consistency of titles within units or professions, and/or other relevant factors when approving requests for working titles. The Senior Human Resources Leader may also change or withdraw approval of a working title with notice to the individual(s) impacted.

A Working Title Should

  • Provide a more specific description of the function or work performed to better facilitate business communications.
  • Add clarity to the University’s job function, family and classification assignment in describing the individual job.
  • Be consistent with professional/industry practice.
  • Be consistent with other working titles within a job family and/or work unit.

A Working Title Cannot

  • Duplicate a title used in another employee group, e.g. Merit system or SEIU professionals.
  • Be exactly the same as another professional and scientific classification. Some modification in the title must be made to provide a more specific description of the responsibilities of the job.
  • Misrepresent the University or the authority of the position in any way. The use of “inflated” titles can create inaccurate expectations of the individual role.
  • Use any title that includes the words Vice President or Provost; the title of Dean; or other titled positions that are recognized as institutional officers, e.g. University Secretary or University Treasurer. These titles require specific permission and approval by University Human Resources and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Examples of Acceptable Working Titles

  • University Classification Title: Potential Working Titles
  • Accountant: Payroll Accountant; Benefits Accountant
  • Senior HR Specialist: Compensation Manager; Senior Benefits Manager
  • Director, HR Services: Director, Compensation and Classification
  • Senior Systems Administrator: Senior UNIX Systems Administrator; Director, Windows Administration

Frequently Asked Questions

One feature of the new classification system is the option of a working title, which may better describe your role than your classification title. Individuals and departments will have the option of using working titles, subject to approval by your Senior HR Leader and consistent with uniform guidelines. We will not want working titles to misrepresent the position in any way, nor conflict with other titles used in the classification system or in the department or organization.

No. We believe that for the majority of people the new University classification title will be a more descriptive and useful title than under the previous classification system. However, in those situations where a more specific or descriptive working title would be useful, we want to make this option available. Specific guidelines and the process for review and approval of working titles are still being developed.

Your pay range and market zone will be based upon your University job classification. Salary information about benchmark jobs will be used in building the compensation structure, but these comparisons are based upon descriptions of the duties and responsibilities, and not just a title, whether the University or the working title. A working title, in some cases, may help identify comparable jobs in survey data, but that would be the only use in relation to compensation.