What’s in a job title?
Finding meaning behind the position.
You’ve decided to make a change and search for a new job. Congratulations! While applying online for some choice positions, you’re faced with a dropdown menu of job titles instead of a text box to type it in. Your choices are: Vice President, Director, Manager, Coordinator, or Assistant. Nowhere on this list is your current title -- Chief Officer of Awesomeness and Ninjatude. Now what? Think that job title sounds wacky? It does. It’s also not that unusual as more companies view titles as a way to get clever and brand themselves as hip and different. What’s a job seeker to do? Can you just fudge it a bit? Do titles matter that much? Read on for a few perspectives.
Don’t lie - clarify
“Recruiters are searching by keywords and job titles so if you have an uncommon title, it’s going to hurt your search results. But, you can’t lie because if you do, a company whose core value is integrity [may] withdraw your offer if they find out,” says Abby Kohut, an author and career coach. Instead, she recommends adding titles that are more common in your industry in parentheses next to your actual title on your resume. E.g., IT Ninja (IT Specialist). “Even if you don’t have an uncommon title, you can use parentheses to mention an alternate title to help with the keyword searches. So, for example … you can say Product Manager (Brand Manager).”
Pitch what you really do
Roy Cohen, career coach and author, says it’s important to distinguish between your title and your role. Whether you’re a ninja, manager, director, or vice president has little meaning without context. “So, your message must always be conveyed on two levels; how you are defined corporately and what you are responsible for functionally in your job. As a vice president, what are you really responsible for? Are you the head of customer service or a key client relationship manager? As a ninja or chief ‘people’ officer, who and what are you really? That should be your tagline, a phrase that visually conveys the meaning of your job.” Zubin Irani, CEO of cPrime, calls this the “functional title” and says you should “equate it to what most companies would attribute that title to be.”
Embrace your unusual title and play it up
“A job title such as ‘guru’ should be seen as a gift!” says Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli. He also recommends supplementing with a more traditional title, but adds that “such an imaginative job title gives a job applicant the ability to write a create cover letter that explains what "guru" means,” and, in doing so, to include more commonly searched keywords.