When the only thing standing in the way of you landing the interview for that job is a well-composed resume, you'd better make darn sure yours is the Mozart of well-composed resumes. While you may not have given it much thought, even the job titles you use can convey moods, attitudes or attributes that the employer is looking for -- or ones they want to avoid in new hires. If you're thinking of getting creative with your job titles, consider a few important details to make sure your resume strikes all the right notes.
Know the Employer
Every resume you send out needs to speak directly to that specific employer. While that means a lot of legwork on your part in reading websites or news articles or networking with current and former employees, the work can be worth it. From your research, you may find that one employer likes to display a bit of humor in his marketing materials while another is decidedly understated, or even quite boring. That can help you determine the tone of your cover letter -- be it slightly funny, self-deprecating, serious, academic or otherwise -- as well as how creative you can get with the job title on your resume.
Title at the Top
Just under your name on your resume goes your self-described job title. This -- and only this -- location is where you can get really creative with your job title. Here, you'll be able to use that information you gleaned from your research to come up with a job title that fits. For the humorous employer, you may choose "Staff Scribbler" instead of "Staff Writer," for example. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it's not so esoteric that the hiring managers won't understand it in context. In other words, don't get creative just for the sake of getting creative -- the purpose is to describe yourself, not confuse people.
Titles in the Middle
The other place that job titles appear on your resume is in the work history section. If you had a specific job title in the past, don't get creative -- use that job title. If a prospective employer calls the old company to check your references, the former employer will often state your job title and the dates you worked there. If you've stated a different job title -- however close to the real thing it may be -- not telling the whole truth may paint you in a bad light. If you've applied for a job with a company that uses automated tracking systems to weed out candidates, those creative job titles may have another downfall: They can force the system to skip over your resume because it didn't contain the right key words, reminds digital PR professional Heather Huhman in an article at Mashable.com.
Say you worked at one of those companies that gave out "fun" job titles, such as "Chief Smile Maker" for a head orthodontist or "Burger Guru" for the manager of a hamburger restaurant. While that worked at your old job, it might not translate well when you're applying for other positions -- and there's also those automated systems to consider. When your real title was a creative one, put your real title in bold, and then in parentheses, put your "real world" equivalent, advised marketing manager Mitch Kocen, in an interview in the "Tampa Bay Times." That ensures the hiring managers at the new company have a way to understand your job and its transferable skills.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.