Career Change Strategies – Creative Titles

Jul 19 2012 in career change, Featured, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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I talk to many job seekers who are frustrated in their search to change jobs … because they are competing against others who are already working in that industry or job function.

It’s tough to change careers today because recruiters, HR reps and hiring managers make snap decisions based on the first few seconds scanning your resume to decide if you’re qualified for the job. Typically, these first few seconds of scanning include your job titles.

If your job titles don’t clearly support the job you seek, it’s likely you’ll be viewed as unqualified.

When you’re trying to change careers, you need to have a target hiring manager overlook your actual titles and instead decide to hire you because you’ve already solved problems that are similar to the hiring manager’s key issues.

In earlier job markets, where there were candidate shortages, it was easier to change careers. During candidate or skill shortages, like we had from World War II until 2007, employers were more likely to consider you for a career change if you could show you had the core skills for the job … since there weren’t enough workers with those skills.

In times of runaway economic growth (think 1998-99), you could change careers if you could just spell the needed core skills. That’s how bad candidate shortages were, especially in certain areas like technology.

However, it’s not quite so easy to change careers since the job market flipped – now that there are job shortages instead of candidate shortages.

It’s not that your skills are any different, not that it would take you longer to learn how to succeed in your new career … not at all. From your point of view, you’re just as ready, willing and able to change careers.

But when there are job shortages, employers make different interview and hiring decisions, even changing their hiring processes. Added to job shortages is an economy that’s fueled mainly by productivity gains … so hiring managers are being asked to hit high goal numbers with small (or no) headcount increases. This forces hiring managers to be extremely picky about new employees, because they no longer have the luxury of devoting much of time to on-the-job training. Instead, employers look for new hires who have already solved similar problems to what the hiring manager faces today.

To a career changer, this combination of job shortages and doing more with less makes changing jobs trickier.

One way that HR reps, recruiters, and even hiring managers base gut feel decisions of whether a candidate is “clearly unqualified” for a job is by reviewing titles. Your job titles are a part of your personal brand, providing additional proof to the first impression your resume provides.

So how can you change your job titles to show you’ve performed some of the duties of the next job you want, but without lying on your resume?

You don’t want to lie about job titles, because HR departments often confirm job titles with social media and with past employers. But yet, in order to get past the first few seconds of a visual scan, your job titles should reflect the job you seek.

If you’re trying to change careers, how can you do both?

… Use the power of parentheses.

List your actual title … then in parentheses, list a title that describes the portion of your role that’s closest to your target job title. Don’t lie, just list a job title that still relates to some of the work you’ve actually done.

For instance, if you’re a financial analyst and you’re trying to move to a marketing role list your title as: Financial Analyst (Marketing Analyst). As a financial analyst, part of your job probably also included sales analysis, profitability analysis, business segment analysis, or product analysis. These are also the types of studies done by marketing analysts.

Listing actual titles and then listing the title that best corresponds to your target job lets you solve both issues at once. Using the actual title allows your resume to be verified by social media and past/present employers. Adding the title closest to your target job (in parentheses) shows your reader that you’ve already solved similar problems to the issues faced by the hiring manager.

Of course, using a strategy of creative titling won’t overcome skills gaps that still leave you unqualified for the career change you’d like. In that case consider a stepping stone position. If you’re a janitor and you want to be an astronaut, you’ve got some skills gaps to overcome … maybe start with a flight class.

Overcome job titles that don’t appear to match the hiring manager’s needs by providing supplemental title information … in parentheses.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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