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When you work on the same project for a relative long time you get more experienced. You may also master many new technologies. Besides the coding you may also do what would classify other roles.

There is however one part of your career that may not get updated. That is your job title. It seems beside all technological hypes there is also job title hype. It all depends on which company you work for. Many companies give employer better job titles because they want to keep them. The employee doesn’t change their job because the current title is much better, even if they would get better working condition and benefits if they changed their job.

When you consider changing you job you notice that your job title is kind of “outdated”. People with less skill have a much better title for their job than you. You may very well explain what you did on your project but the fact is that many employers go by the title.

So here are the questions:

  • Do you change your current title in your CV?
  • What are other options?

Here are some good readings regarding these phenomena:

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closed as off topic by Yannis Mar 7 '12 at 7:58

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Seriously? Someone is going to keep/leave a job because of a job title? – Walter Jan 25 '11 at 15:54
My unofficial title: Senior Bit-Twiddler Level IV – Pemdas Jan 25 '11 at 16:04
@Walter To get to that function you may need selling title. – Amir Rezaei Jan 25 '11 at 16:21
I always admired the "member of technical staff" but really want a card that says "know-er of things; do-er of stuff" – sdg Jan 25 '11 at 16:24
Just remember job titles are important to pay (each title has it's own pay bands in HR). So lobby for the better title (and pay) when you have gotten more experience in a job and deserve it. You'll get a better pay raise typically moving to a new title than you will in just the annual raises. – HLGEM Jan 25 '11 at 18:22
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I've had job titles in the past that did not fit my duties (and which would look odd on a resume for my experience), I handled that by using my offical job title (so that when they do the reference check, the HR person doesn't go, "No she wasn't a database programmer she was an ADP installer" (hey it was a government contract and they didn't have a job title in the contract that fit the work I did). Then, in parentheses, I put the actual title of what I did so that it would get caught in the programs that are looking for key words and so the person reading the recume if it got that far would know what I really did. I explained this is the cover letter or interview.

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Depending on the company, this may or may not be a good idea. There are some companies where I worked where I had a lot of flexibility in picking my title while in other places it may not be quite as flexible. I'd generally stick with whatever title I had and try to use the accomplishments within that position to demonstrate my level of skill. Thus the question is whether there is substance to a position or not.

In theory one could omit the job titles in a resume for another way around this. However, this could be dangerous in some cases.

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I don't know if it's a cultural thing (eg. Maybe Australia is just a very laid back and relaxed place), but job titles never seemed to be a big deal, or even official, in any of my work so far.

I've been called a developer, software engineer and senior software engineer for doing essentially the exact same work. And in all my jobs, the titles were so informal that when business cards were being made up, the secretary actually asked me what I wanted on there, because it was just so unofficial that it was up to me to make it up for my card.

The only thing I can make of it is that it really doesn't matter so much in this field. It's relatively easy to tell if someone knows their stuff or not, if you misrepresent yourself you fail miserably at your role, so most people just kinda naturally end up with justified titles over time in their career.

Again, this might be an Australian specific experience, but I'd be surprised if it didn't ring true elsewhere.

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In some places "Engineer" means you've completed a Professional Engineering program. Here (Canada), I can't call myself a "Software Engineer" or "Computer Engineer" unless I actually completed that engineering program. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 25 '11 at 16:07
@Bobby: SE, Developer, Technical associate they are all synonyms but a title might matter when a someone is called a Senior consultant and an equivalent in other company is Manager, these get confusing while applying for new jobs. – Geek Jan 25 '11 at 16:15
@FrustratedWithFormsDesigner: I don't think that holds any longer in Canada. For instance I'm now a "Software Development Engineer in Test", which is a perfectly valid/legal job title. It doesn't make you a PEng obviously. Likewise, a traditional garbage man is known as a 'waste management engineer' in some places. – Steve Evers Jan 25 '11 at 20:08
@SnOrfus: Really? Huh. I didn't know they could give that title if you didn't have a PEng. I don't know about the "waste management engineers"... – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 25 '11 at 20:14
@rmx: I once worked in a company where the cleaners (janitors) were called "Environmental Services Technitians". True story. – Bobby Tables Jan 26 '11 at 12:19

When you write your CV, your goal is to be understood. Job title is important, because you want the HR people to be able to look at your CV and draw the right conclusions right away.

In the ideal case, you know what a developer (or whatever you've been doing) with your level of experience and responsibility is called at the company you apply to, and you put that in. Failing that, you go with what looks like the standard in similar companies in the region.

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Do you change your current title in your CV?


My CV/résumé contains a historical list of jobs, and I just repeat whatever the employer said my title was.

What are other options?

Change your CV to focus on your accomplishments and skills.

As a chemist who changed careers into programming, co-founded three companies, and also worked blue-collar jobs during university and in his parents' businesses, I've had all kinds of crazy titles, from entry-level machinist, through senior software architect and international sales manager, to chairman of the board (twice). I don't even list most of those jobs or titles on my CV; it would look crazy unless I wanted to be upper-level management again, which I don't.

When I worked at Autodesk around 1990, the single most powerful person in the company was one of the founders named John Walker. He's a programming wizard who was one rung below me in the org chart, and his title was Programmer. His immediate prior title was President, but he got tired of running the company. His salary was less than half of mine, but he didn't care because his annual stock dividends ran about $1.6 million. It was really funny the time my boss said, "Bob, I'm supposed to give Walker an annual review - what the hell should I do?" :-)

I also learned from starting companies that it's really easy to give yourself fancy titles. So I don't pay a lot of attention to titles unless they're something that has specific legal meaning - for instance, in the US, President and Vice President are regulated by corporate law. (And in American banks, there are usually a zillion Vice Presidents because you have to be one to sign certain paperwork like loan documents, so it often means very little there.)

Now, I just call myself a programmer, and it doesn't seem to hinder getting work.

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In this context there are really only two things that matter:

1). Your competence
2). Your compensation

A job title cannot make up for deficiencies in either.

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