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My job title isn't impressive. Can I do something in my resume to avoid this problem? : ITS Answers


If you had titles which did not reflect the full scope of your responsibilities, you run the risk of a potential employer immediately disqualifying you because the titles leave the impression that you would not have the talents or achievements required. Fortunately, this is an easy liability to neutralize.

Mindset

Remember that most employers are smart enough to distinguish between the "substance" of what you were able to contribute and the "form" of a title.

Keep in mind that what really matters is whether you have the skills, personal traits and record of achievement that make you the best candidate for the job. The fact that you worked for an organization that had a poor and misleading set of titles for you and perhaps others, is irrelevant.

If you are able to convey clearly, accurately, memorably and credibly the kinds of challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results you achieved, you will successfully focus the employer's attention on what really matters, and away from titles that are misnomers.

Resume

Use a summary at the top of your resume which briefly recounts your major achievements and the full scope of your responsibilities, without using any titles. "With full responsibility for the productivity and profitability of ________________, my actions touched on virtually every aspect of operations," is an example of the kind of phraseology you can use to get across the substance of what you achieved, without any reference to misleading titles.

Structure the main body of the resume according to achievements, or functional areas backed up by achievements. As an alternative, you may choose to use a chronological format, but in place of titles in the headlines, put a "journalistic" entry, e.g., "1998 - 2000 ... Turning Around a Losing Division" or "1996 - 1998 ... Revitalizing Sales"

Here are some specific examples of how you can communicate truthfully without using exact titles. If you had no official title, but functioned as a manager, it is appropriate to claim this as fact. Many corporations today de-emphasize the importance of titles, and in some of the newer, fast-growth industries, they aren't used at all.

You may be called a "Project Administrator" in a large corporation. This might imply to an outsider a narrow scope of responsibilities. In fact, your job could be the equivalent of a Division General Manager with multimillion-dollar profit responsibility. Be sure to communicate that in understandable terms.

Of course you should be honest in what you communicate, but where a title might create confusion, it is acceptable practice to restate an official title into general, more understandable and more accurate terms.

For example, an Assistant Controller can justifiably refer to herself as a Financial Manager, if that is common terminology for the same work in a new industry. A salesman who has done extensive recruiting and training of other salespeople can legitimately claim that he has functioned in a sales management capacity.

The problem becomes more difficult when you are changing careers, but the same principles apply. The School Superintendent has broad managerial responsibilities for facilities, budgets, and Human Resources. Government employees must often translate their functions into completely different terminology.

The basic message is, don't sell yourself short because of titles. Be sure to communicate who you really are regardless of title. The significance of a title may not be well understood from one organization to another. Don't use titles on a resume unless they help promote you. Use a headline or even a sentence to relate the true breadth, depth and scope of your responsibilities. Give prominence to functions and achievements.

Interviews / e-mail / Letters

In correspondence and interviews, avoid using titles and focus instead on what you actually accomplished. Specifically, it will be to your advantage to direct the interview to a discussion of the functional areas where the employer needs help.

Ask questions that direct the discussion toward the functions that will be most important for the person who wins the job, and when they are identified, relate examples of how you have used those precise abilities and strengths to make significant contributions to your employer.

The most memorable and credible way to do that is through concise situation-action-result format stories which show that you analyzed situations well, took appropriate actions, and achieved measurable results.

The actions in particular should show that you assessed situations quickly and correctly, then took actions in rapid-fire sequence, which got the desired results. These stories will demonstrate that you possess the confidence which stems from having addressed these challenges successfully, despite the fact that your achievements may not have been recognized with the proper titles.

You should also ask questions about the personal traits that will be most important in the person who wins the job. By introducing these into the equation, you will help your cause if you are ready to share examples of how you used those same traits to deliver specific benefits to your former employers. You can then point out that you're a close match both in terms of skills and personal characteristics, the "substance" that really matters.

If the question is brought up about titles, do not hesitate to address it directly. Point out that it is a good question, which obviously reflects their intent to hire an individual who has worked at a level of responsibility and achievement that would indicate they can perform in this job as required.

Then go on to summarize briefly the achievements you got across earlier in story form, followed by the observation that you could justly be accused of working for the pure enjoyment of producing results, and not paying much attention to titles, offices and other status symbols.

Next ask in a low key, non-confrontational manner, if the interviewer thinks you've done a good enough job in correcting the false impression of titles by relating with accurate details as many instances of actual achievement as possible. Regardless of the answer, it brings the focus of the discussion back where it belongs.

Because hiring decisions are seldom made purely on the basis of a logical match between needs and strengths, make sure you have all the intangibles going for you. Project enthusiasm, and show that you've taken the time to learn a lot about the company and the industry.

Actions

Examine your past contributions closely, and prepare several action-oriented stories that demonstrate your personal strengths and get across your talent for moving rapidly to get results and deliver value in the types of situations that the employer can relate to.

Some of these stories can illustrate your abilities in certain job functions, and others can illustrate the personal strengths you think will be important for the type of job you seek. Many stories can illustrate both.

All of them should be good examples of your high energy level, initiative, and ability to achieve in demanding circumstances, the very qualities that might be called into question by your not having titles equal to your achievements.

Look for as many specific result indications as possible. Be prepared to give a wealth of evidence in the form of these memorable action-oriented stories which illustrate your ability to correctly size up situations and take actions that get the desired results again and again. This will reassure the prospective employer that you are valuable, ambitious, and determined to do even better things for your next employer.

Develop and coach enthusiastic references from selected individuals you can trust inside your current and former employer organizations if you can, as well as a number outside of it, e.g., customers, suppliers, sales reps, consultants, etc., who will be happy to attest to your energy level, action orientation, ability to deliver results, and where appropriate, your tendency to work for the joy of working, and to disregard status symbols like titles and offices. Review your resume with these references, and make sure they keep a copy available to scan when and if they are called.

This step will enable you to make the statement in an interview that, "You've heard about me from me, but you really need to hear it from some of the people who know me best, and I strongly urge you to call them." That will erase any lingering doubts about poor titles.

Conduct research on any industry and companies you are targeting, using the Internet and/or resources in the Business Reference section of a good library. You might even consider going so far as to write a small article about the major trends in that industry as they affect someone in your function, whether it is general management, purchasing, sales, production, marketing, finance, customer service, information systems, or any other function.

In this way, you are not only showing initiative and ambition, but also creativity and an intense interest in the future of the company and its industry. You're also showing enthusiasm, an important factor in any hiring decision.



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