Beware of following every kind of advice you get during your job search. One expert I encountered recently told readers to “customize job titles” so they fit the position being sought. This advice sounds good. I always tell clients to keep information on their resume relevant. However, there is one big problem with customizing job titles: HR departments.
When a prospective employer calls your former employers to do a background check, they usually receive very basic information: eligibility for rehire, years worked, and job titles. If you call yourself a manager and your official title was coordinator, your prospective employer will think you are inflating facts on your resume. Don’t expect a call for a second interview.
What can you do if your job title doesn’t fit what you are trying to say on your resume? I suggest two strategies: rephrasing and subtitles.
Rephrasing is simply to provide a second definition of what your job function was. For example, I once had a client who was a Team Leader at a large department store. Team Leader sounds like this employee might be a Department Manager or even the assistant to a Department Manager. My client ran a muli-million dollar operation. Many similar employers would call his position General Manager. We listed his title as Team Leader (General Manager). The first sentence below the title made clear that he was responsible for all store operations. That’s rephrasing.
Subtitles listed below a main title are another way to let an employer see your relevant skills. For example, one of my clients wanted to pursue a career in training and development. Her current position, the one where she gained the most experience in training, had the title Event Manager. To reorient the prospective employer, we followed that title with a subtitle: training and development. In this section we described relevant skills and achievements. That way the employer could quickly see why my client was qualified for the position.
Beware of changing your job title. The employer can find that information. Instead, use rephrasing and subtitles to help the employer see why and how you are qualified to do the job you are applying for. It’s a little more work, but the effort will payoff in interviews and job offers.
Example of a resume with rephrasing. resume with rephrased titles
Example of a resume with subtitles. resume with subtitles