A reader writes:
I currently work as an IT professional for a company that is contracted by a larger company to provide IT support for their organization. I was originally hired two years ago to provide desktop support services. Due to the elimination of the job of the only other IT employee at our site, I have taken on the responsibilities and duties of a much higher level IT professional.
During this time - approximately 18 months - I have been subjected to "trial by fire." I have been asked to deal with IT issues that I previously had zero experience with. I have consistently come through with flying colors by researching and learning on the fly the skills necessary to handle these situations. During the last 18 months I have also earned two fairly high level IT certifications (MCSE and CCNP).
During my year-end review, I asked for a substantial raise and a title change. My boss has offered a five percent raise (which I have yet to accept or reject) but told me that a title change was out of the question. I am stuck with the label of "Desktop Support Technician" despite the fact that I handle the duties of a Senior Network Administrator and Senior Systems Administrator singlehandedly.
I feel that I am qualified for a much higher paying position - likely double what I make now. I want to start applying with other companies, but I do not want to list my current position as "Desktop Support" as this does not reflect the reality of my current role.
Can I list my current role as "Systems & Network Administrator" but explain during my interview that I actually only hold the "Desktop Support Technician" title despite the duties I perform?
Unfortunately, no. When the prospective employer calls to check your references, they'll likely uncover the actual title and it'll raise a red flag for them about your honesty. They'll also wonder what else you may have inflated.
However, there's an easy solution to this that will accomplish what you're trying to do: Don't list a title. Just list your responsibilities.
Now, some advice on topics you didn't ask about:
There are two ways to respond to the situation you're in: You can be resentful that you had to take on the responsibilities of a higher-level IT staffer, or you be glad that you've been in a situation that made you develop your skills -- developed them so much that in fact you now think you're qualified to double your salary! That's an career development opportunity, not a bitter pill.
(Plus, in my experience, it's pretty common for good IT people to need to learn new skills on the job. IT is a constantly evolving area, and researching and learning new things goes with the territory in many IT jobs.)
Regarding your boss' offer of a five percent raise: You said you haven't decided whether to reject or accept it yet. I'd accept. There are a lot of employers who aren't giving out raises at all this year because of the economy, and plenty more who are having to go a step further and lay off staff (which you mentioned your company has already had to do). A five percent raise is generally considered a decent raise in even good economic times. Take it. Job-search if you want, but take that raise meanwhile.
And if you haven't yet, ask your boss why he's resistant to changing your title. There may be factors you don't know about that will help you make sense of his decision. Of course, maybe there's aren't and he's totally in the wrong, but at least ask (nicely and non-defensively!). Good luck!