I’m a ‘Marketing Rock Star,’ can I use this job title in my CV?
The answer is a qualified ‘yes’. But proceed with caution. Of course it is important that the job title on your CV accurately reflects your work and status. But the job title also needs to be meaningful to employers and recruiters. There’s a balancing act to be done and if you’re not sure it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Sales Ninjas, Copy Crunchers, Website Weavers and Back End Managers are just a few of the job titles proffered by creative agencies or funky new start ups. Even Apple calls senior retail staff ‘sales geniuses’. Titles like these may serve to empower employees and help to attract people into difficult to fill roles but is ‘genius’ a step too far?
It is all about context and understanding your audience
If you work within music publishing then using your real life job title of Marketing Rock Star may be fine. Likewise ‘Back End’ is a common term within IT so there may be more to a ‘Back End Manager’ than just hot air (sorry). Where creative job titles become challenging are in how other employers will understand them. I mean, where do you go from being a Rock Star, Rock God? And that may well be fine within your organisation but who on the outside is going to know the difference between a Star, God or Guru job title on your CV?
Recruiters often talk about ‘job title inflation’. A cynical ploy by some employers to promote people into grandiose job titles without any commensurate increase in responsibility or pay. Director of First Impressions (receptionist) was once listed in the top 25 over inflated job titles in a survey by the BBC. Yet a quick key word search in Linkedin reveals a number of people now using this.
If creative job titles serve a useful purpose then that is surely a good thing and to be encouraged. If promotion to a ‘senior’ makes someone feel better than ‘just a’ then it follows they’ll be happier in their work, more productive and likely to stay longer. All good reasons for giving someone a job title they are happier with.
My job title doesn’t reflect the seniority of my role
On the flip side is something I guess we could call ‘job title deflation’ where you are actually doing a much bigger job than your title may suggest. For instance, a ‘Manager’ may be the most senior person in one organisation and have more responsibility than a ‘Director’ in another. This can be true for many types of jobs across the board. So, if you are the most senior person in your department and called ‘Manager’ can you change it in your CV?
Firstly, don’t tie yourself up in knots over job titles. In the established spectrum of job titles (assistant, executive, manager etc) most employers will be able to see beyond any prefix. They will pay more attention to the achievements you’ve made and the scope of your role. In reading your CV it should be self evident what level you are working at.
Still if you felt strongly that as the most senior person in your department your job title needs to carry more weight then why not re-badge yourself ‘Manager’ to ‘Head of’? This would seem to strike the right level of seniority without exaggerating the scope of the job. Of course, you need to be mindful of what would be acceptable to your current employer. Marketing Rock Star will still need a reference. So don’t label yourself anything that will incur the wrath of Marketing Rock God.
So there are times when you can change a job title in a CV. You know what you do. You know what you’ve achieved. But think most of all about what the reader will understand. Only change your current job title if you feel it could lead to misinterpretation or really doesn’t do justice to your role.
Neville Rose is Director of CV Writers a professional CV writing services consultancy.