Why using standard job titles on resume makes sense

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I once had a coworker who, as was a requirement, humorously put his job title in his email signature as ‘Data Janitor III.’

It wasn’t far from the truth — he was a Database Administrator. Keeping data clean was part of his job. Now, should he put that ‘Data Janitor III’ into his resume? Nope. No one is looking for a ‘Data Janitor III.’ Instead, recruiters are looking for Database Administrators.

And while the story may seem silly, in a very real sense, we are putting ‘Data Janitor III’ on our resumes all the time. While some corporations are really taking their job titles to industry standard, a whole lot of them are not.

Putting that company issued job title as the only one on your resume is killing your job search.

You need to broaden your ability to be found by recruiters by using industry standard job titles

When recruiters, company or otherwise, have an open position, the requisition has an industry standard job title sitting at the top of it. When they then go searching for candidates, what do they do?

They put in the industry standard job title for the position. They put in ‘database administrator.’

And what do you have on your resume? ‘Data Janitor III.’

Do they match? No, of course not. And the search gods blow past your resume in nanoseconds all because your company decided to give you a ‘Data Janitor III’ title and that’s what you put on your resume. It is, after all, true: that’s your job title at your company.

This isn’t about your company, though. This is about a job search. And if you have great job skills for hire, recruiters need to be able to find you.

Adjectives about your job title are not needed either

See the ‘III’ in Data Janitor III? III means you are (probably) at the senior most level of that Data Janitor job title. That’s an adjective that isn’t needed. ‘Senior’ is another one. Vice President titles are thrown around like candy in the financial industry — it tells you nothing except some level of budget sign off that person has compared to others.

So titles like ‘senior’ Database Administrator, or Database Administrator III, or IT Database Administrator all start to limit your ability to be found.

Now some of you can take offense to this — you worked hard for that ‘Senior’ title. Or that III at the end of the title. I get that.

The deal here is to get found. The rest, as a recruiter once told me, is about money. And you can’t get to money until you’ve been found, had a phone screening, had some sort of face-to-face interview, and get to the point where there is an offer being created or presented.

So Database Administrator is your title.

How to present this on your resume

There is a risk here: you get the offer and listed your job title at your company as ‘Database Administrator’ and when the background check happens and they call your company and ask if you were a Database Administrator there, the answer will be ‘no.’ Because you were a Data Janitor III there – and that is what HR shows as your title.

You can lose that offer if this stuff doesn’t match up.

So what you do is wherever you list your job title, list the standard job title and then your company job title:

“Position held: Database Administrator    Company Title: Data Janitor III”

You get found because you have the industry standard job title. And you get confirmed by having your Company title as well.

Get your resume found

Getting found in a sea of resumes is hard. We make it harder, though, when we don’t remember the audience looking for our resume and how they do searching.

By putting in industry standard job titles, we make our resume easier to find and that leads to a chance at an interview.

See more resume tips and my approach to building resumes. Check out my Resume Tips page.

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