Resume Food for Thought Series
The Resume Debates 1: Titles
Everyone has an opinion when it comes to this marketing document. I am giving you mine.
Like any other forms of writing, resumes are subjective.
Ask 50 people to review your resume and you will get 50 different opinions.
In this article series, I will present seven resume elements that has provoked massive debates while we strive to gain employment. I will provide supportive assertions for both sides, then tell you where I stand in the arguments.
First up, titles.
Actual Titles vs. Accurate Titles
Titles should be easy.
They are given to us by our employers.
Or are they?
Confusion comes in to play when we are hired for one position but are assigned to tasks that are related to another.
This is especially true when the hiring managers are unclear about the definition of related roles. One notorious example exists in the data world. Majority of the population cannot tell the difference among data engineer, data architect, data analyst, and data scientist.
The argument for using our actual title is that our prospective employer may contact our former employers to fact-check. And if we are caught being deceptive, then we might not get the job.
Yet on the other side of that argument, if our actual title doesn’t reflect our true accomplishments, then we won’t get the job either for lack of experience. The trap arises when we fully accept the title we are given and attempt to apply for a new position with the same or similar title.
Here’s my story.
Back in the day in my early career, I was once given the title of software engineer.
Four years had already passed since the last time I programmed. Who has ever heard of a software engineer who had never programmed a single line of computer code at work?!
Another incident happened when I was hired as a business analyst…only to be put in charge of conducting data science algorithms. When it came time to explain my role, recruiters always exclaimed, “Wait. That’s not what a business analyst does!”
So you can guess which side I am on in this debate.
You have every right to use the actual title you were given. In fact, I strongly suggest you do…in the beginning.
However, from my experience, my actual titles confused recruiters 90% of the time. Consequently, I was forced to use more accurate titles that actually matches my experience.
Although the fear of waving a red flag did stressed me out a bit, having titles that match descriptions helped recruiters gain a fuller picture of me.
But guess what we are doing no matter the circumstances?
When using an actual title that does not match, we are hoping that the recruiters will overlooking our actual accomplishments if they are hiring for an identical or similar title. If we are applying to a role that matches more to our description, we are hoping they will overlook our actual title.
If we use a more accurate title that matches, we are hoping the recruiters will overlook the fact we changed our title.
In all cases, we are hoping they overlook.
Nevertheless, I contend that a more accurate title that goes with the description makes recruiters less puzzled and shows that we are, indeed, a fit for the position.
Now, noticed that I did NOT say inflate our titles. If we were project managers, do NOT claim that we were vice presidents on the document. That would totally be wrong and the red flag is deserved.
Find an accurate title that matches our accomplishments AND our seniority level.
I have found this has worked better for me.
The Choice Is Yours
I am not here to tell you what to do.
I am here to say that both sides hold legitimate reasoning.
How you want to market yourself is up to you. I have my methods, and you have yours.
My only advice is experiment.
Titles are tricky.
Believe it or not, I genuinely advocate for using actual titles. So try applying with your actual titles first and see what happens. If this is not getting you the response you want, try adjusting your titles to reflect your descriptions and see what happens with the change.
This is what I did and I found the latter more beneficial for me.
Come back next week as I explore the amount of experience to include on our resumes.