What is in a name? Well, when it comes to your job search, quite a lot actually.
As your previous job titles are prominently displayed on your resume, they will provide a snapshot of your career history. That is – if the reader can understand them.
In recent times, there has been a baffling trend of weird job titles, but when it comes to the (industry norm) requirement of listing the job title on your resume as it was on your offer of employment, this can cause issues.
This blog explores the minefield of job titles on a resume and what you might do if you were handed one of the less common variants. We explore:
- Why are your job titles important for your job search?
- Is there a standard hierarchy for job titles?
- How to deal with a weird previous job title
- Common job titles across 16 key industries
- Could a poorly understood job title stop you from getting the role?
Do people nod knowingly when you mention your job title, or do they shrug and give you a puzzled look?
What are 3 golden job title rules?
Great job titles should:
1. Be no longer than four words (and even that is a mouthful).
2. Use commonly accepted language and avoid jargon where possible.
3. Avoid superlatives (best) and cringeworthy exaggerations (guru).
Why is your job title important for your job search?
When your future employer is scanning hundreds of resumes for an open position, the first thing that they will do is scan the job titles of each applicant in their employment history.
Much as ATS software carries out a keyword check, this first sweep of a resume serves to weed out the weakest applicants. If your work history is less than stunning, an incomprehensible job title can prove damaging if the employer doesn’t understand what you were up to.
Consider the job titles in your work history. Which ones may need more explanation in the text of the work experience? How can you highlight the titles in other ways?
OK, so I had a weird job title, but what can I do? While there is always a requirement to be honest on your resume, there is a slight grey area when it comes to changing a strange job title to make it more like an industry norm. Our suggestion would be to keep the titles for the last two roles exactly the same as your employment contract, but if any older titles are strange, you can change them. For more recent titles, one option is to mention the alternative title underneath in the text of the work experience itself. That way, both the employer and ATS will take note.
“Chief” job titles for business leaders
If you have a job title that signifies that you have been a leader of multiple teams and diverse projects, then any future employer will take note. There is a certain prestige that comes with a job title that has “Chief” at the beginning and many employees see this as being almost as valuable as their compensation. Would you rather be a Marketing Director or a Chief Marketing Officer? I would suggest that the latter is preferable.
Here are some common “chief” titles:
- CEO – Chief Executive Officer
- COO – Chief Operating Officer
- CFO – Chief Financial Officer
- CIO – Chief Information Officer
- CTO – Chief Technology Officer
- CMO – Chief Marketing Officer
- CHRO – Chief Human Resources Officer
- CDO – Chief Data Officer
- CPO – Chief Product Officer
- CCO – Chief Customer Officer
While “Head of HR” denotes a similar seniority as “HR Director,” the title CHRO wins the day in terms of gravitas. Renegotiating your job title could offer a future job search advantage and is worth considering.
What are some funny job titles? Head of Potatoes, Professional Snuggler, Brand Warrior, Meeting Getter, Happiness Hero, Paranoid-In-Chief, Digital Prophet, Director of Awesome or Vibe Manager anyone? There are plenty of funny job titles that can add a lighter touch to your resume, but maybe leave them to the content rather than the title itself. You may not want them to stand out too much.
Common job titles across 16 key industries
We have data-mined the most popular titles across 16 industries from the 15+ million resumes that our clients have created. Here are some of the most popular in some of the biggest industries:
Transport & Logistics
Warehouse Manager, Package Handler, Logistics Coordinator, Warehouse Worker, Stock Clerk, Order Filler, Truck Driver, Logistics Director, Delivery Driver, Logistics Manager
Facilities Engineer, Technician, Electrical Engineer, Agricultural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Health & Safety Engineer, Research Engineer, Civil Engineer, Process Engineer, Technical Assistant
Dentist, Behavioural Therapist, Psychologist, Doctor, Nursing Assistant, Paramedic, Pharmacy Technician, Optometrist, Physical Therapist, Sonographer
Hospitality & Catering
Barista, Sommelier, Restaurant Manager, Cook, Waitress, Bartender, Concierge, Hotel Manager, Doorman, Hotel Receptionist
Is there a standard hierarchy for job titles? While the moniker “Chief” generally indicates a board level role, the hierarchy of titles may vary from company to company. A Logistics Manager in a larger company may have more significant responsibilities than a Logistics Director in a smaller firm. Make the scope of your role crystal clear in the content of the work experience section. In a similar way, “senior, junior and assistant” can mean wildly different things from one company to the next.
Sport & Fitness
Football Coach, Rowing Coach, Soccer Coach, Personal Trainer, Track Coach, Lifeguard, Fitness Instructor, Tennis Coach, Nutritionist, Hockey Coach
Field Sales Professional, Car Salesperson, Sales Manager, Sales Director, Sales Assistant, Telemarketer, Sales Representative, Sales Associate, Account Executive, Account Manager
Academic, Librarian, Teacher, Professor, Tutor, Substitute Teacher, College Admissions, ESL Teacher, Teaching Assistant, High School Teacher
Shop Assistant, Store Manager, Merchandiser, Cashier, Warehouse Manager, Department Manager, Retail Assistant, Coffee Shop Manager, Retail Director, Planner
Programmer, Data Scientist, Web Developer, IT Director, Systems Analyst, Software Developer, IT Manager, Data Analyst, Network Engineer, Technical Project Manager
Case Manager, Social Worker, Drug & Alcohol Counsellor, Community Outreach Coordinator, Nanny, Caregiver, Babysitter, Youth Services Specialist, Healthcare Worker, Geriatric Social Worker
HR Director, Human Resources Manager, Training Manager, Recruiter, Talent Manager, Chief Happiness Officer, HR Assistant, HR Administrator, Head of Talent, Personal Assistant
Real Estate Assistant, Title Examiner, Real Estate Coordinator, Architect, Property Manager, Real Estate Agent, Realtor, Interior Designer, Real Estate Sales Manager, Decorator
Content Writer, Marketing Director, Creative Director, Marketing Associate, Art Director, Blogger, Social Media Manager, Marketing Manager, Event Planner, Magazine Editor
What about capitalizing job titles in a resume heading? This is not for debate. Every word of your job title should be capitalized when used as a heading in a resume. For one thing, it helps the title to stand out. Secondly, it is simply correct English usage. When you are talking about your job title in the content of a resume or cover letter, it will depend on the usage whether you capitalize it.
Business & Management
CEO, COO, CFO, Business Manager, Executive Assistant, Program Manager, Executive, Board Member, Project Manager, Consultant
Accounting & Finance
Bank Manager, Accountant, Bank Teller, Finance Director, Loan Officer, Investment Banker, Compliance Officer, Financial Analyst, Loan Officer, Bookkeeper
Factory Worker, Quality Assurance Manager, Manufacturing Technician, Material Handler, Operations Manager, Production Worker, Machine Operator, Assembler, Forklift Operator, Production Director
Could a poorly understood job title stop you from getting the job?
There are many considerations when offering a job to a new employee, so having a poorly understood job title will never be a deal breaker.
It could, however, be something that causes a hiring manager (or ATS software) to pause and wonder about the exact nature of your activity. Whacky job titles are increasingly common, but if you can include the more common variants where possible, that is preferable.
- Creative job titles can come across as humorous or modern, but they can also be a burden when it comes time to list previous employment on your resume.
- While an unusual job title probably won’t be a dealbreaker, it could leave the ATS or hiring manager confused.
- We recommend keeping the exact job titles for your two most recent roles and altering any older ones to be a bit more universally understood.