Don’t Get Creative With Job Titles in Your Resume

The job title you have at your company is not the same as the one you need on your resume.

Companies have their own way of providing titles for their employees. The titles relate to the culture or how someone did titles 20 years ago, or just to have people feel more important about the job they do. Sanitation Engineer, anyone?

Resumes Are Different

But when it comes to resumes, your company job title may, in fact, be hurting your search.

Let’s go back to the purpose of the resume: to get you an initial interview. That’s it. Not get the job, not secure an offer. No, just get the initial interview.

That means you want to have the largest number of recruiters selecting your resume to review — and not throw it out in less than 10 seconds.

That brings us to the critical piece about your job title: Recruiters search for candidates by the industry standard job title.

Use Industry Standard Job Titles

You don’t want to have your company-issued “Data Janitor II” job title leading your resume. You want “Database Analyst” because that’s the standard. You don’t want your company-issued “Senior Project Manager Lead.” You want “Project Manager” because that’s the standard.

Note how generic industry titles are. Even having a “senior” in front of a standard title limits the number of people who will see your resume and think about reviewing it. In the words of one consulting firm owner:

The difference between a Senior Project Manager and Project Manager is pay. If you don’t get the interview because your resume was never seen in the first place, you can’t negotiate pay.

There’s a school of thought that you should have your real company title in the resume. If you think that’s a good thing to do, then make the industry standard the one that is bold-faced or italicized. Then include your company job title in describing your work. That way, the recruiter’s search engine will find the industry standard — and you get a shot at getting selected for an interview.

How Do You Search for Positions?

So when you’re searching for positions on, say, Dice, how do you go about it? Sure, there is geography and pay and all that other stuff, but in the end you’re looking for a specifically titled position. When you search for a “Data Janitor II” position, you’ll not find many. If you search for a “Senior Data Analyst” position, you’ll get some hits. And if you search for a standard-titled “Data Analyst” position, you’ll get even more.

To turn that around, if you were a recruiter, wouldn’t you want to have a good pool of candidates for a specific position to fill? Then, when you throw out resumes after 10 seconds, you can have a few more resumes to find the right candidate for an interview.

It’s About Getting the Interview

There are a few of us out there who get hung up on the title of our position. Or, we think that we would never take anything that doesn’t have “Senior” or “Vice President” or “Manager” or “III” in their job title. If that’s you, I’d urge you to get that ego out of the way. It’s far more important to get the interview. After that, it’s about the money a company would pay you to do the work.

After all, if you never get the interview in the first place because recruiters and their search programs blow right by your resume job title, there are no title or dollars to negotiate.

In the comments, let’s help a few people out. What’s your “company” job title and what do you think your “resume” job title should be?

11 Responses to “Don’t Get Creative With Job Titles in Your Resume”

    • Chances are, you’ve already had the interview, and the opportunity to clarify position titles. If the work experience under the title is accurate, and it accurately supports the title you use, they’re not going to be terribly concerned that it doesn’t match the title on your pay stub. Target job titles to the job you’re seeking, and _always_ be accurate and honest in the details.

      • Buster Boushear

        The employer may/not have up-to-date records. Some employers have a high staff turnover and may not keep your details after a set period of time. They may only have start and end dates on file. Some employers may not give a full reference/details for fear of legal action if it is not positive. If you are creative with job titles and you get found out it may be a criminal offence (i.e. fraud).

  1. How is the resume job title going to help you, if you do not understand how you fit in the binary big-picture?
    They tell you a support position. It turns out that don’t want a support person but a genius who can solve problems before they occurred… which is impossible anyway since the software has been developed overseas.


    The internship I have now is a very long title and I do not know if i should put the initials or the ENTIRE name of he place, because it will not fit on one line along with the title of my position. EXAMPLE:
    Communication and Marketing INTERN UM BWMC
    Communication and Marketing Intern University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

    Please someone help me!

  3. Jasmine, you can put your employer’s name on the first line and your title on the second –

    University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center
    Communication and Marketing Intern

    If you italicize your title that helps it stand out.

  4. For my recent internship interview I have put my domain of work that is post silicon validation instead of title test engineer . Should I be worried if they confuse my domain for title and question me because it does not match title in my relieving letter?

  5. I’m currently working as system analyst responsibility on our company but my job title on ID is programmer what should I put on my resume System Analyst or Programmer? hope you can help me.