Career Advice – Job Titles Can Translate A Functional/Industry Change

Jan 18 2011 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips

Today’s article lists career advice to help candidates make it easier for employers to see a fit.

I’ve seen many candidates get frustrated while attempting to change job functions or industries because they can’t get employers to see transferable experience.

One way candidates can make it easier for employers to see a fit is through your job titles.

Funny thing about job titles – they mean different things to different companies. In some companies, a financial analyst is a rookie position while in others it is similar to a divisional CFO … this is a huge difference.

In some industries, titles are different than in other industries. In manufacturing, very senior top managers get the title of Vice President, but in Banking and Financial Services, it seems like half of the workforce are VPs. This makes it difficult for a mid-career manager to transition into many banking/financial service jobs … to a large extent because of the title. These candidates can find themselves with job experience that’s too heavy for a staff position, but without a VP after their name they aren’t being considered for management roles.

When someone reads your resume, they typically scan the top then go straight for the experience – the features and benefits of you as a potential employee. Then they scan your work experience, all told on average in 15 seconds or less (see “15 Seconds” at

Typically your job titles catch an employers eye, providing the first support to the impression the candidate has given from the top of the resume (see “How A Personal Branding Statement Can Help Job Seekers” at

It should be apparent what a big impact your job titles have on your resume’s reader. Hiring managers use titles to help form a first impression, and HR/recruiting screeners often eliminate resumes based on titles alone (they’re usually rookies and often don’t know any better).

Yet, what do candidates do to manage this impression? Usually, it’s very little. Some use a cover letter to try and explain the differences, but only 3% of Hiring Managers/Recruiters/HR reps use a cover letter to make interview decisions (see “3 Reasons To Ditch Your Cover Letter” at If you’re depending on a cover letter to explain your fit for a different function or industry – how are you communicating to the 97% of readers who don’t rely on cover letters?

Your message of fit really should be on your resume, because to recruiters and employers “If It’s Not On Your Resume, It Doesn’t Exist” (

Here’s the central question – How can a candidate clearly translate work experience into a new function or industry when the titles are different?

I give this career advice to clients and to webinar subscribersChange your titles to match the industry, job function and company that you are targeting.

I hear people gasping … Phil, you’re telling people to lie on their resume! Well, I’m not, because I don’t believe that lying on your resume is a smart move and it’s unethical – I never recommend lying on a resume. Why lie? Just give clarifying information to the reader.

Parentheses work beautifully for clarification. List your actual title, and then give further information in parentheses). Just give a few words, don’t write a paragraph or a sentence – it’s not likely to be read in a 15 second scan.

Your title now might look something like this:

Technology Analyst (Supervised Social Media Marketing Campaigns)
Treasury Supervisor (Corporate Cash Manager)
Marketing Manager (Led eCommerce programs)

Notice that I bolded the explanation within the parentheses, but I didn’t bold the actual job title? Of course you did, your eyes couldn’t help being drawn to the bold. If you bold very few things on your resume, the readers eyes are directed to the few things in bold – they can’t help but notice exactly what you want them to notice. For other uses of this career tip, see “Is Your Resume Over-Bold?” at

Back to the titles and clarifying explanations – you’ll note these aren’t lying on your resume. Instead, you can give additional information to explain … and help form your reader’s opinion, all while telling the truth.

Do you think your reader is more likely to remember your actual job title, or your bolded explanation?


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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