Working Titles Guidelines and Protocols for Support Staff


The University compensation and classification structure provides classification titles that are descriptive of the work performed. However, when a more specific title would serve the unit’s operational or recruiting 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 work group, 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 for effective recruiting
  • Unit/department job descriptions and employee personnel records
  • Regular business correspondence, both internal and external to the University

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:

  • Does the University job classification title adequately describe the function of the job assignment for professional business communications inside and/or outside the University?
  • Would a working title more specifically and accurately describe the function of the job assignment, and provide more immediate recognition within the job’s industry or business sector?
  • Are there any additional guidelines the college/division/organization may establish for the use of working titles?
  • Does adding the unit, department or location to the title suffice as a working title? (e.g., 4-H Program Coordinator - Macomb)

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

  • Be exactly the same as another classification title. (e.g., Administrative Assistant may not be used as a working title for a position classified under a different classification.)
  • Be the name of a business process (e.g., Reclassification Coordinator)
  • 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. (e.g., Director of Reclassification)
  • Use any title or rank 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)


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 via posting to MSU Human Resources.

Working titles must be approved by MSU Human Resources prior to use. Human Resources review and approval will be based upon compliance with the University expectations enclosed, and any additional organizational guidelines that may be established within a specific college or division. Human Resources will consider the consistency of titles within units or professions, and/or other relevant factors such as relevance to similar positions across MSU, when approving requests for working titles. Human Resources may also change or withdraw approval of a working title with notice to the individual(s) impacted.

Additional Information

Working titles will be available for use within the posting process only.

Working titles will not be displayed on MSU Find People.