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I work on two internal, mission critical applications. Let's keep it simple and call them "Foo" and "Bar". Nobody outside of the company has ever heard of them - like I said, they're internal apps. Until now my jobtitle has just been "Software Developer". I've recently discovered that my jobtitle is being changed to "Foo and Bar Developer". I'm a little worried that, should I leave the company, I'll have trouble finding a new job because of my weird job title.

My question is this: How important is my job title compared to everything else on my CV (or resume, if you're American)? Am I likely to be rejected by box-ticking HR people who don't realise that "Foo and Bar Developer" is the same as "Software Developer"?

Thanks in advance.

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quite many people like to call themselves Architect nowadays too. –  動靜能量 Nov 3 '10 at 4:36
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If I was leaving the company and had a non-industry standard title, I would convert it into a standard title. I would use the company title with an explanation. For example, a podcast I used to watch, their female webmaster (webmistress) has the company title of "Pixel Princess". She makes light of it when telling people saying she makes the pixels look pretty. I guess you can state there is a difference between your company title and the role you perform. –  Scott McClenning Nov 3 '10 at 5:17
    
Many employers will minimally confirm a job title with past employers, so having a solid title is of utmost importance. Architect is overused/abused. How about Enterprise Software Developer... –  McGovernTheory Nov 20 '10 at 19:06
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8 Answers

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On your resume put Software Developer instead of Foo and Bar Developer. Problem solved!

You can even put anything you want as soon as it is the truth.

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@Pierre 303 - Suppose a situation: You're a 'whatever' title (eg. programmer), but your duties are that of a 'whatever else' title (eg. Software Architect). What do you put on your resume and do you worry that potential employers ask your references "Was [snorfus] a 'whatever else' at your company?" –  Steve Evers Dec 1 '10 at 5:24
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@SnOrfus: I also learnt that in some countries some titles are protected (I mean in addition of Doctor or Professor). Titles like "Engeneer". –  user2567 Dec 1 '10 at 6:40
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It's the truth. As long as it is not a protected term, the titles on your résumé or CV are your choice based on the role you performed, not what the employer called it. Both résumés and CVs are about your qualifications, not what someone else named you internally. If you're honestly worried about employment verification, you can reference the internal title somewhere in the descriptive body of text for that particular job. –  charstar Jan 3 '11 at 9:18
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Seems to me that out of date company supplied titles are the most often case of misrepresentation... :-) –  Brian Knoblauch Jan 3 '11 at 15:51
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@SnOrfus Yes, I'm serious. And, no one said anything about misrepresenting oneself. Downright lying about your qualifications can be prosecuted as fraud in some jurisdictions and is certainly grounds for dismissal anywhere else. That said, you don't have to present yourself as "Purple Widget Engineer II" because your employer GoneTomorrow Inc. had you listed as such when you were really a project manager. It's worth noting that a résumé is not a legal document, however an application, if you fill one out and sign it, is. –  charstar Jan 4 '11 at 9:15
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your cv/resume should say what you did at the company in your words, not necessarily what that company called it. If you are/were a software developer there call it like you see it. The only time a title causes a problem for me with an interview candidate is when they are being overly boastful. "I was The Supreme Being of Software Development" would put your resume in my trash can pretty fast.

HR is going to scan the cv/resume for buzz words, so yes software developer needs to be there if that is what you are and want to do at the new job. If foo and bar are unknown to the world, choose to include it as part of the description "I worked on an internal project code named foo" if you like but try to explain what it was in familiar terms. So to get through HR's filter it needs to use more common stuff like "programmed in C for Linux and Windows". And just flat out list a bunch of languages or terms, "knowledge and experience in C, C++, Perl, Python ....". That will get you through the HR filter into the interviewers hands. At the same time though, if you list all the languages you learned in college, but really didnt use them beyond college, I am going to figure that out in the interview and you will probably lose my vote at the post interview meeting. That falls into that being too boastful category for me. You dont have to be an expert but if you give me the "I took a class in it, but that was 3 years ago and I dont remember it now". Interview is over. If you are rusty on the topic but did know it I will figure that out and that is good for you. If you are fresh out of college and dont have much of a resume other than flipping burgers at McDonalds then list I took classes in ... instead of Knowledge and experience in ...

Notice how none of this has anything to do with the job title at some former job? If you are happy with your job, do not quit over this. The fact that you are asking this question and threatening to quit sounds like you have one foot already out the door at this place. Problem is your title will have changed by the time you actually get those interviews and you will then have to realize this fear.

They can call you whatever they want so long as they spell your name right on the paycheck. Even if the business cards they give you have a blank line for your name after the title "Generic Employee".

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I'm not threatening to quit over this. Merely thinking ahead. There are other reasons that are making me contemplate leaving at some point, but that's another story. I just want to make sure that I'm not going to be shafted by my job title if I do leave. –  Cosmic Flame Nov 3 '10 at 8:58
    
Oh, and +1 for good advice about CVs. –  Cosmic Flame Nov 3 '10 at 8:58
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In many cases your job title matters, obviously. There's a big difference between "Lead Technical Architect" and "Software Engineer." But the difference between "Software Engineer" and "Foo [Software] Engineer"? I wouldn't stress it.

If it is really bothering you a lot, you might consider talking to your boss and letting her know your concerns. If your boss isn't a total dummy, she'll get the big picture: she knows people think about their careers down the line. She probably does it herself. You could ask if it's OK to introduce yourself (casually) to customers and partners as a "Software Engineer for Foo and Bar." Approval to do this is tacit approval to use such language on your resume.

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I've done a lot of screening of candidates(can't tell you how many resumes I've pre-screened, but I've conducted 100s of interviews to give you an idea).

It really doesn't matter to me as long as I know you are a software developer, I know how long you have been at it, and the scope of your responsibilities. Only one of those things will I get from your job title. I've seen people who have had the title "Developer" who could design/code/support circles around me. I've seen people who have had the title "senior architect" that couldn't begin to tell me what decoupling meant. It mostly depends on the organization they are coming from. Most good HR screeners will know this as well.

Because all it really matters for is search engines and the shoddy HR screeners, I include "desired job title" in my own Resume in short intro block that says basically "I am a blah blah blah looking for a yada yada yada project".

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I just recently got hired by a company. (my previous position is different in my current position which means different roles but still in IT industries.)

My recent experience, agency will categorize your industries follow by your position. Lets says you are Foo and Bar Developer, They will still categorised you under developer. From there, they will assess what skills do you have in your resume/CV to fit in the client's profile. This is very important as they need to know apart from as being a XXX developer what other skills you may have.

Last 2 months, there are agencies desperately looking for developer with k2 blackpearl skills. They even call me up to check if I have those skills, even though I did not put up as K2 Blackpearl Developer. Those people who put up in the title might have better chances, I guess.

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The impact of that new title on landing a new job is exactly ZERO.

Whatever the title, your future employers will be much more interested in what you can do, rather than what title you had, or if you had casual Fridays, or if your former employer provided free snacks, or if your car could get 0-100 kph in 6 secs.

You get the picture - It's the skills and your attitude that count.

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I agree it's not the titles themselves, but a promotion should be indicated. –  JeffO Nov 3 '10 at 1:43
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Agree that it's what you can do that counts. However, there are barriers to entry that you must get past where things like titles and buzzwords do matter. –  Nader Shirazie Nov 3 '10 at 4:39
    
Titles become very important when you pass the Manager phase. –  Xepoch Jan 11 '11 at 3:59
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While I think they may be of low importance, I would caution on the potential collision that may occur if the application names happen to match what another company uses internally. If another company calls their app "Foo," then they may believe you possess expertise that you don't necessarily have. It can be a bit of a double-edged sword though in some places the job title may matter for things like work visas as I recall having a title of "Software Design Engineer" because it was in NAFTA as a job that could be filled by someone with a TN-1 which having my degree was sufficient.

Remember that there are likely to be many other points in the resume that are a bigger deal, like the achievements had with each position. Did you save the company millions of dollars? Did "Foo" scale into a bigger system under your watch? Those are likely to be more important but that is just my opinion. I have had various job titles like Software Design Engineer, Web Developer, and Senior Application Developer so I have had different titles for pretty much the same work of building web applications to perform various functions.

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I like your point about the potential collision between app names. I hadn't even considered that... –  Cosmic Flame Nov 2 '10 at 22:41
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Good point about the achievements usually being more important than the title. –  ChrisF Nov 2 '10 at 22:43
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Date to Date : Foo and Bar Developer, Company
Promoted from Software developer. Blah blah....`

Above is one way to handle it. It's hard to predict how HR people (who generally know nothing or next-to-nothing about tech anyway) will interpret any job title.

Is "junior developer" more or less desirable than "software developer"? Is "application developer" better or worse than "software developer"? What about "computer programmer" or "$language programmer"?

If the job calls for a US-style resume (date, title, company, and at most one sentence regarding the position), a lot is up to luck. If you are asked for a CV you have a chance to outline exactly what the job entailed and what you accomplished there, and the title is less important.

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"Promoted from..." is a good though. Thank you. –  Cosmic Flame Nov 2 '10 at 22:40
    
It's worth noting that you should NOT use "promoted from" if that isn't how your current employer sees it. A confusing or lackluster title is NOTHING compared to seeming to inflate your experience and accomplishments. –  HedgeMage Nov 3 '10 at 4:15
    
US style resumes are not that rigid these days, perhaps they teach that in the how to write a resume class still, but two or three pages with a paragraph for each prior project is not uncommon. –  dwelch Nov 3 '10 at 6:18
    
@dwelch: Interesting. It doesn't seem anyone told the job-seekers, though. When I'm hiring, all I get is resumes of the type I described. I skim them, but mostly just care that they show an ability to spell. The real meat comes from talking to a person, looking at their code, calling references, etc. –  HedgeMage Nov 3 '10 at 14:19
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