By Jennifer Love Faulkner
Somewhere in the core of just about every technical professional’s brain is the desire to refer to themselves as a genius in their respective technology stack.
Years ago I started seeing the emergence of words like “Evangelist,” “Guru,” “Torch Bearer,” and the like on resumes. I get it and agree… you guys are brilliant and capable of incredible cutting-edge development in infrastructure and software. Each of your efforts support a vast array of non-technical personnel, essentially keeping life as we know it moving forward.
However: Keep some perspective about your brilliance as you push your professional profile forward. (Note: I thank you for your dedication to technology as my entire world revolves around it. As I sit here and type I see my digital phone, my cell phone, my iPad, my laptop, my Nook – your brilliance created almost everything within my immediate reach.)
This movement toward borderline ridiculous titles seems to be at an apex. Actually, there are two trends occurring. First, the selection of grandiose titles and, second, the addition of superfluous “stuff” that is so distracting I’m left either laughing or just aghast.
Examples? Why Certainly!
Let’s start with the superfluous.
Recently, I got a resume on which the candidate had written, just below his name, “Part-time Landlord, Full-time Programmer.” So let’s apply a bit of logic here. When has any renter ever asked their landlord for their resume? Never? Exactly. So my question becomes, “I wonder how much time this person spends on his rental business and is he going to be dedicated to the role I have available here?” The resume then moves to my “maybe” file. I hate to push it there, but if this person feels so strongly about telling me he’s a landlord, shouldn’t I take that as a clue?
Another memorable resume was Mr. Hobo. This candidate was an incredibly gifted Enterprise Architect that had taken a respite of sorts for a period of two years. During that time, he listed his job title as “Hobo.” Under that was the explanation, “Took two years off to explore the woods, gather my thoughts, practice meditation and the arts.”
I interviewed the candidate, felt he was exceptionally qualified and encouraged him to modify the resume to read “Sabbatical” or something more professionally acceptable. Unfortunately, he’d quite gotten used to referring to his hobo years and felt this best reflected a “type” he’d like to portray. I did submit the profile to my decisioners and from that point forward, the team referred to him as — “Mr. Hobo.” Brilliant though he was, nobody could get past this self-selected title. What a shame.
In the Grandeur category, I’ve seen “Human Machine,” “Chief Unix Whisperer,” “Master Lord over all things Dojo,” and “Coder, Dreamer, Visionary Technologist with Breathtaking Perspective.” OK, I get it, but I still end up wondering, “Will this person fit into the team?”
Honorable mention goes to a candidate who listed a period of time off for dealing with a case of the gout. Rest assured, unless you are a podiatrist, the word gout should never appear on your resume.
So with all that said, here are some general guidelines to consider.
- Go ahead and embrace creativity if you are applying to a startup, a think-tank, a social media company or any organization in which you know for certain your moniker will garner the “oohs and “ahhs” desired. But still, cautiously edit for each company you apply to. Do your research always. Do you know the organization will embrace your unusual moniker?
- Review your resume and question yourself, “Is there anything on my resume that would give rise to someone questioning my ability to make money for the company?” If there is, drop it.
- For mid-market and corporate jobs, stick to the job title given by your current company. If your current business card says “Overlord of Production Issues,” well, then you have carte-blanche to proceed. If not, you might just end up as a hobo at the bottom of the stack. And that would be a shame.
Jennifer Love Faulkner is a seasoned Employment Specialist with 17 years of experience in recruitment, workforce development and training. As a career coach and speaker, her specialties are candidate relationships and no-nonsense communication. In addition to being a Corporate Recruiter at CGI, Jennifer and husband Brandon support their son’s comic book habit, keep his power cords straight and often hatch Dragons with him in DragonVale. Her postings on Dice represent her own opinions and do not necessarily represent CGI’s strategies, views or opinions. She blogs at www.jenonjobs.com.