RESUME FOOD FOR THOUGHT SERIES
UPDATED ON 12/13/2021
Everyone has an opinion when it comes to the resume. That starts with identifying job titles that match who you are.
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
Job titles should be easy.
They are a form of identity, and tell unfamiliar faces who we are and what we can do for them.
Plus, we don’t have to think about them and pull them up out of thin air.
Our employers know what we do best, so they know what to call us.
Or do they?
Sometimes, doesn’t it feel like our hiring managers made them up for us? Like they are unclear about the definition of the role they are hiring for? So we receive a title that seems to be the most appropriate, then get assignments that are totally not related at all.
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 any discrepancies emerge, 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.
Early in my career, I was once given the title of software engineer.
I never typed a single line of code. When I transferred to that role, four years had already passed since the last time I programmed.
Who has ever heard of a software engineer who had never programmed 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 because my actual titles did not resembled the type of work I had accomplished. Consequently, I was forced to use more accurate titles that actually matches my experience to eliminate any confusion.
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 someone with 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.
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.
Need help deciding whether your actually titles work for you? Bounce the thought with me.