As somebody who's worked in both engineering and marketing organizations, I've always assumed that marketers were the savvier of the two when it came to corporate politics and career advancement. A recent study of 2,000 workers in the U.K. conducted by the Vanquis Bank, however, suggests that I was wrong about this.

One question the survey asked was

"Would you definitely accept a promotion without a pay raise?" 

While I understand that those who accept a title-only promotion are attempting to position themselves for a better job, in my experience such ersatz promotions are either:

  1. Meaningless. A title-only promotion is a shiny object that distract you from asking for and getting a real promotion. The problem here is that job titles don't mean much either inside or outside your current organization. Everyone inside your firm knows that the new title is window-dressing. And if you're looking outside for a new job, recruiters are interested in what you accomplished, not your job title(s).
  2. Manipulative. If the promotion also entails extra work, then you're really being screwed, because without a corresponding pay raise you're downwardly defining your value to the company. For example, suppose you're getting $10,000 to do A, B, and C. After your "promotion" you're getting $10,000 to do A,B,C, and D. Guess what? You just won yourself a 33% pay cut.

So either way you slide it, accepting a promotion without a pay raise is a fairly stupid career move.

Marketing professionals are supposed to be among the most financial savvy people in an organization, and are supposed to have a deep understanding of the relationship between brand and revenue. You'd think marketing professionals would be the LAST employees to fall for a nominal bait-and-switch.

But you'd think wrong. According to the Vanquis study, nearly two out of three (58 percent) of Marketers would accept a bogus promotion. By contrast, only about one out of ten (11 percent) of Engineers would do the same. That' huge variation suggests that engineers have a far more solid grasp of corporate reality than their supposedly savvier marketing counterparts.