What Job Titles Should You Use When Writing Your Resume?
Job titles can be complicated to understand. Whether you’re trying to list your title or deciding what you’re qualified for, here’s what you should know.
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What Should I Know About Job Titles?
Job titles can be a little confusing if you’re reentering or new to the job market. Sometimes a job title can seem to be at odds with the job description or even make the role seem more complicated than it is. Here’s what you need to know about job titles.
They are indicators of role and experience
Job titles are important because they indicate the skill level, experience and responsibilities that are likely to be associated with the work. After all, the roles of software developer and programmer may utilize similar skills, but they are very different in many ways. This is why job titles act as keywords in search engine results for job seekers; knowing which title suits your skills is important for optimizing your job search. There’s no point in applying to be a company vice president if you’re currently a customer service representative, for example.
They can vary from company to company
It is important to keep in mind that the specific title of a job can vary from company to company. For example, you may be called a project manager by one company but referred to as a team leader by another despite the duties of both jobs being the same. Other variations in title can be due to specialization. For example, a mechanical engineer is slightly different from a general or civil engineer, and a product manager differs from a product developer.
They indicate career path and progression opportunities
Job titles often indicate which career path you will take in a company if you take up that role. For example, job titles that have “customer” in them are more likely to be front-facing, while the term “administrative” tends to indicate a background, desk-based position. Likewise, if you see words like “junior” or “assistant” in a job title, this can indicate that this is an entry-level position and that there is room for advancement within this career path.
Of course, finding job titles that are suitable for your skills and experience can be tough. That’s why it’s important to learn how to decode them.
Ways to Look for Job Titles for Which You’re Qualified
If you are in the process of developing your skills or want to progress along your career path, it is important to remember that you gain transferable skills and experience in any role, so the trick to climbing the employment ladder is optimizing these skills for use in slightly different or more challenging roles, while also learning new skills that match what the job needs. Keep these tips in mind while conducting a job search and you will be more likely to succeed.
Look at job titles you’ve held in the past
Just as a recruiter will check your past job titles, you should consider what they can tell you about your work experience and skills. Look for commonalities between your previous job titles and the titles of jobs you are thinking about applying to. For example, if you have worked as a sales representative for a number of years, then you are probably qualified to be a sales manager.
Check for qualifications, not job titles
If the job titles you are seeing in your search are confusing to you, take the time to read the job descriptions and consider the skills and qualifications the company is asking for. If you have the appropriate skills and experience, the job title is of less importance. For example, if you have experience as a car salesperson you probably have skills which are transferable to marketing jobs.
Look at jobs in your desired field
If you look for jobs in your desired field, then precise job titles will be less important because you’re likely to have at least some of the required experience and skills. You could also check the LinkedIn profile of someone you know in your desired field to see what skills and job titles they have listed.
Whether you are applying for work in computer science and information technology roles or you want a new job in health care or even human resources, the way you assess the meaning of a job title is similar. Just follow the above steps to get a better bearing on what jobs are best for you.
How To List Your Job Title on a Resume
In some cases, your previous roles will have come with official job titles. In those cases, it is perfectly acceptable to list your job title as-is on your resume (if you need help polishing your resume, consider these guidelines). If you have concerns about your previous job title, or your last role did not have an official title, it can be hard to know how to list it. In these cases, you should consider both your role and your seniority.
Experience and seniority
An effective job title will indicate your experience and seniority. For example, an administrative assistant has a lower level of experience and responsibility than an office manager. Words like “junior,” “senior,” “assistant” and “intern” are important indicators.
Did you work in a frontline customer-centered role or in the back office? If you primarily worked with customers, the term “customer support” is a clear indicator, while something like “systems administrator” tends to indicate back-office roles.
Role and Responsibilities
Finally, consider the responsibilities and roles associated with your position. Was it an engineering job, a management job, or even call center work? If you were in charge of the finances of a business, even a small to medium one, then CFO or “Chief Financial Officer” may be the right title, but if you answered to someone else, “Senior Accountant” may be more appropriate.
If you successfully capture the essence of your previous job with an appropriate job title, you will find that a recruiter will be more likely to take an interest in your application.
FAQ: Job Titles
Q: Should I apply to jobs with titles I haven’t held in the past?
Yes. As long as you meet the role’s requirements, your previous job title won’t matter too much. For example, if you used to be a marketing manager or marketing specialist, but you want to apply for a social media manager position, there’s no reason to not apply as long as you have the required skills and qualifications.
Q: How do I know what my past job titles were?
You should be able to find your previous job titles on official documentation from your last workplace. If you cannot find your previous title or your role had no official title, you can check how other people in similar positions refer to theirs on sites like LinkedIn.
Q: How should I connect my job to my title in an interview?
Take some time to think about how you can best represent your job title before you go to your interview and think about how you described your job in your cover letter. Make sure the title is accurate and you have a good understanding of how to connect it to the job posting you are applying for.