Job titles tell recruiters and hiring managers what you do at work. Typically, job titles are just a few words long, e.g., “senior software engineer” or “junior copywriter.” In just a few characters, a good job title should convey the responsibilities of a job and the level of a position.
Unfortunately, not all job titles are accurate. Some employers like to be creative with their job titles, creating a team of gurus, heroes, and jedis whose actual roles may be unclear to anyone who doesn’t work at the organization. Other employers load up their long-time staffers with additional responsibilities without giving them the promotions that should go along with the increased work.
Both these situations can be tricky for you when you’re looking for a new job. Understandably, you might wonder if you can take matters into your own hands and tweak your job title until it’s more appropriate (and helpful to your search).
Before you start editing your resume, it’s important to understand why you should use the job titles you’re given—even if they’re not entirely accurate. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to avoid lying on your resume while still conveying your qualifications, work experience, and skills.
Why Use an Accurate Job Title?
An accurate job title is important because it describes what you do and shows how you’re progressing up the career ladder in your field. Further, fibbing about your exact role is likely to come back to haunt you. A SHRM survey showed that 92% of employers perform background checks on prospective hires. Lie about your job title, and your resume won’t match the information that HR gets from your former employer.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the pros and cons of using correct titles:
Gives your interviewer a frame of reference for your work
Shows career progression and any upward mobility
Indicates to interviewers your level of experience, such as
supervisor-level or management-level work
Doesn’t offer useful or accurate information to your interviewer
Raises a red flag because it won't match your job history, LinkedIn profile, or a background check
May not conform to the hiring manager’s expectations anyway
How to List Job Titles on Resumes
When you apply for a mid-career or upper-level job, employers review your resume to determine your career path and how that track fits with their needs. They want to see upward mobility.
For example, when an applicant has progressed from a software engineer to a senior developer to a chief technology officer, most likely with other jobs in between those, the hiring manager sees that the candidate has been promoted, changed jobs, or otherwise advanced during her career.
Your current job title not only reflects the jobs you've held but also provides companies with information on your career level. For example, if your job title includes the words "supervisor" or "manager," it will indicate that you have management experience.
When you create your resume, you’ll need to list your current and previous jobs, the companies you worked for, and the dates you worked there. The job title is the first thing you see for each entry.
Here's an example of how to list a job title:
Carbarra Communications Inc.
- Manage media planning and event coordination for local and regional clients
- Coordinate with Media Affairs director on national campaigns
- Manage production of press releases, blog posts, media advisories, and newspaper articles to drive usage and adherence to brand
- Coordinate with creative services to produce appropriately branded materials needed for press conferences and meetings
What To Do Instead of Changing a Job Title on Your Resume
It’s always a mistake to stretch the truth on a resume, even if you’re just changing your job title so that it more accurately reflects your duties and responsibilities. A better course of action is to use the rest of the page to tell hiring managers what you did on the job.
Use the following places to work in keywords and short descriptions that will help employers understand your skills and experience:
Resume Title or Headline: What do you most to convey to hiring managers about your qualifications? Include a resume headline right at the top of the page and use it to highlight your skills, abilities, and work experience, e.g., “Award-winning graphic designer with 10 years of leadership experience.”
Resume Profile: Essentially a mini cover letter, a resume profile allows you to summarize your top qualifications in paragraph form. Match your qualifications to the job and use this section of your resume to highlight important keywords from the job listing.
Job Descriptions: Use the job descriptions below each job title to explain what you did in this position. Don’t forget to use numbers, percentages, dollar signs, etc., to quantify your results.
Cover Letter: Including a cover letter with your application—even if you’re not required to do so—can give you another opportunity to share your qualifications (and hit those keywords so that your application doesn’t get lost in the applicant tracking system).
The issue with changing your job title is that it won’t match your employment history. When prospective employers check your background or review your LinkedIn profile (and many do), it will be a red flag when titles or times at work don’t match what you have on your resume.
Using Job Titles in a Job Search
Depending upon where you are in your career, you may know exactly which job titles you qualify for, so it’ll be easy enough to use job search engines such as Indeed.com. Use your current or desired job title as a keyword (a word from a job title or a related term) in the search bar and find a job that interests you.
For example, if you do a search using the term "editorial manager" you’ll get a list of editorial positions. If you click on Title and More to see a list of the following related jobs:
- Marketing Manager
- Social Media Manager
- Communications Manager
- Content Manager
- Project Manager
- Public Relations Manager
- Marketing Communications Manager
- Web Content Manager
- Social Media Coordinator
Job titles can also be helpful if you’re a career changer or not sure of all the positions that suit you. Start your search with a keyword, then view the "People also searched" list of job titles related to your search term (you'll find them at the bottom of the page).
Review a Resume Sample
This is an example of a resume that lists job titles. Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word) or see below for more examples.
Resume Sample (Text Version)
Visionary and highly respected Chief Technology Officer (CTO) with repeated success capitalizing upon technological resources to drive corporate success and position operations for sustainable growth.
Data & Analytics: Solutions-oriented and proactive in analyzing products and processes to enhance technology offerings. Leverage superb logical and creative thinking skills to anticipate project outcomes and minimize risk.
Communications: Fluently present complex information to executive officers, project stakeholders, and clients, persuasively building strong business relationships and platform partner networks.
Leadership and Teamwork: Rely upon passion for technology to explore new avenues, establish strategic goals, and inspire team ownership of technology development ventures.
ABC TECHNOLOGIES – Seattle, WA Chief Technology Officer, 01/2020 to Present
Held oversight for technology leadership across corporate strategic planning, R&D, product development, and engineering divisions.
- Positioned company to pioneer development of service-oriented architecture for cloud-based services.
- Championed new product design initiatives that increased revenues by 48%.
- Negotiated strategic partnerships with affiliates in eastern Europe leading to 95% dominance of untapped markets.
XYZ SOFTWARE – Renton, WA Senior Software Developer, 01/2015 to 12/2019
Liaised with team members and business partners to build out data integration solutions and back-end services with non-trivial scaling requirements.
- Directly contributed to achievement of 3 patents for computer-implemented processes.
- Incorporated novel security features into data integration products that ensured optimal compliance with industry regulations.
BEST EVER SOFTWARE – Seattle, WA Software Engineer, 06/2013 to 12/2014
- Built new search functionality into Brandbuilder software that improved usability by 75%.
- Skillfully collaborated with development team to consistently finish assigned projects well ahead of deadline.
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, Seattle, WA
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Graduated Magna cum Laude
More Resume Examples
Review more resume samples for a variety of circumstances and get templates you can use to write your own resume.
• A good title provides a clear view of your job responsibilities and place on the corporate ladder.
• Regardless of whether it accurately describes your duties, never change a job title on a resume or job application; it could raise red flags during a background check.
• Use your resume and cover letter to explain your responsibilities, job duties, and achievements using keywords from the job listing that match your qualifications.