Have you been taking professional titles for granted?
You’re not alone. A lot of job searchers pay too little attention to these small bits of content.
But what if I told you that your chances of being interviewed depend on the professional titles you use, both in your resume summary and in describing your employment history?
Most people think that they should automatically jot down current and past job titles that employers have given them. False.
Writing targeted professional job titles is an essential step in resume writing. Let me elaborate.
A job title is a specific designation of a post within an organization, normally associated with a job description that details the tasks and responsibilities that go with it. Source.
Professional Job Titles for Resume Summaries
The first instance that requires you to write a professional resume title is at the very top of your resume, in your resume summary. Bear in mind that this will be the first thing that someone will look at when reading your resume. So it had better make a good first impression.
- Administrative Assistant
- Executive Assistant
- Marketing Manager
- Customer Service Representative
- Nurse Practitioner
- Software Engineer
- Sales Manager
- Data Entry Clerk
- Office Assistant
Your opening professional title should follow two guidelines:
- It needs to grab recruiters’ attention;
- It needs to include keywords for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
The easiest way to ensure that you are giving recruiters and ATSs what they want is to match your professional title with that of the prospective job. For example, if a company is hiring a “Project Manager” then you can just follow their lead and use this as your title.
Of course, you might feel like copying the prospective job title is boring. Some companies deliberately ask for creative applications from candidates, which makes you feel like you need to up your game and develop something more catchy.
The advice here is to not overthink the professional title. Keep in mind that you can use a few lines in your resume summary to let your personality and creativity shine through.
If you decide to diverge from the job title provided by the employer, be sure to use industry-related terms that will be common to recruiters.
Such language will not only be familiar to recruiters, proving you understand their needs, any ATS will also recognize these as keywords, helping you get past an initial automated screening.
- Too long (keep it to 4 words max.)
- Using jargon (use recognized industry terms)
- Using superlatives/adjectives (avoid words like greatest, best, etc.)
- Too personal (it’s a professional title, so save personal interests for later)
Professional Job Titles to Describe Work Experience
The other area where you will need to write professional titles is for describing current or past work experience.
As hinted at earlier, don’t assume that you should simply use whatever titles have been given to you by previous employers. There are certain circumstances that warrant editing these past titles.
Again, you want to make sure that any professional titles you include on your resume are hitting keywords that an ATS might be looking for. Similarly, you want human readers to be able to scan your resume to immediately identify the relevant experience and your career progression based on your titles.
In this day and age, a lot of companies have their own proprietary names for different employee groups. If you have had an organization-specific title in the past and are applying for a job, consider moving away from your prescribed title.
Switch to something that a recruiter will easily understand, that reflects the seniority of the position and your responsibilities.
- Director of Talent could become Human Resources Director
- Impact Manager could become Marketing Manager
- Style Advisor could become Retail Sales Associate (clothing store)
How to Use Job Titles in a Resume
It’s also wise to consider making small tweaks to your professional titles in the interest of including keywords for an ATS. Your indication on which keywords to include will come from the job posting.
An example for you: a job advertisement is asking for someone with five years of client service experience. You worked as a “Customer Support Agent” for a bank. Then, in order to make sure you appeal to the ATS and recruiters, you may wish to change your professional title to “Client Service Agent.”
Notice that in no way are you lying, giving yourself a promotion or a higher title. You are simply using the language that the prospective employer uses.
A resume is not a legal document, so you don’t need to worry about making small adjustments to professional titles under special circumstances. You want your titles to jump off the page at recruiters, helping you get invited for an interview.