Ensuring your résumé honestly references your titles as well as your actual work responsibilities can be a conundrum for job seekers.
Many job titles nowadays don’t reflect the actual work being done on the job.
Whether the person who wrote them was clueless or poorly intentioned during the writing process, what ends up happening to the employee is that they are stuck with one thing: A job title on their résumé that doesn’t fit…or sucks altogether.
Poor job titles are everywhere
I recently had a client that worked at one of the biggest sportswear brand companies with the title of “manager,” even though he was clearly operating at a vice president-level role.
He’s not alone with this problem that literally is holding him back. Over the years, I consistently see inaccurate job titles on client’s résumés. And to be frank, many workers are fed up.
Having an inaccurate job title can be embarrassing, off-putting and even act as a deterrent for moving forward in one’s career.
In fact, a lower title ends up dragging them backwards or making the person look under-employed.
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Why the job title problem exists
The job title problem starts with the boss.
Sometimes bosses are reluctant to change a job title (usually upwards) due to the correlating expectation that a salary increase is close to follow. Other times, they simply don’t have a full grasp of what it is that you do day in and day out.
That’s why it is important to discuss your job duties with your supervisor every time you have an annual review.
By going over the types of tasks and projects you’ve handled over the past year, you can request to revisit the actual job description and position title to make sure it is calibrated accurately.
If a manager is smart, they will realize that by keeping job titles and descriptions current, they are better prepared to hire appropriate talent should a vacancy come open because it is a better reflection of what the job actually does.
Up-titling is a new buzzword, but not new to the people reading your résumé.
This word means the process where people over time and through frustration, end up changing the job title on their résumé for the position that they held, and “massage” it into something more accurate.
But this too can set one’s career backwards.
Theoretically, let’s say you apply for a job with altered job titles on your résumé. Everything is going well, and you’ve made it into final consideration after multiple interviews.
What’s next? The employment verification process. And this is precisely where many people hit stumbling blocks.
The job titles and dates listed in your résumé should match exactly what is on your file in the human resources office.
If it doesn’t, that raises red flags…and that’s where many people get into trouble.
You always want to be accurate and truthful in your résumé.
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How to make the fix
There is a way to convey what you want to say about your job duties/career level without making changes on your résumé that could come back and bite you. The solution is to provide both pieces of information.
In the example of my client who was a manager but really at the VP level, we switched things up as follows:
North American Manager (equivalent to: Vice President)
By leading with the actual job title, you are being truthful and reflecting what the company has on file as your accurate job title.
And by adding the equivalency, you are also helping convey to a potential employer the following:
“Even though I didn’t hold this title in NAME, I still had this level of responsibility.”
This approach helps you kill both birds with one stone to achieve what you need to get across in the résumé.
Another trap to avoid
Sometimes, people have worked multiple roles within the same company.
All too often, however, they will write their résumé to only list the highest-level job held at the company while including the start date of the first (lower level) job they held.
This is another trap to avoid, because it isn’t truthful, either.
For example, if you started out as a receptionist in 2000, got promoted into manager in 2005, then rose into a vice president position in 2015 at a company, you can’t say that you were a VP from 2000 onwards.
It’s tempting to lump all of one’s experience under the highest job title, but you are setting yourself up for disaster.
While you aren’t really up-titling, you are date-consolidating, and that’s the same type of issue.
Being honest helps you
What most people don’t realize is that showing a career progression by listing each position held and the dates worked in a tiered format actually demonstrates that you have been a valued company asset.
Plus, your titles and dates match what is on file in the human resources department.
It is critical that you are always transparent and forthright about your job titles and dates worked so that you never have to worry about discrepancies popping up, especially if an employer is considering making you an offer.