You are thinking about making a career move – either upwards to a higher designation and responsibilities, or switch to a new area of work. You sit down to write your resume – but find that the title you currently hold significantly understates what you do – and do well - at work. Maybe you have been given, or proactively taken on projects and responsibilities far beyond the title you hold, but this should not prevent you from speaking about it in your resume. Especially if the move that you want to make needs such success to be demonstrated.

How can you reconcile the differences and build an effective resume that correctly reflects your responsibilities? What is the approach you need to take to craft a true picture of your skills that will be captured positively by automated filters set by recruitment systems?

resumes must be tweaked for individual requirements

Your resume must have a dynamic part that talks to the specific position you are applying for. Keeping a basic version of your resume that articulates the compelling features of your skills and capabilities and modifying the dynamic part may be a good idea.

Look at the ‘must have’ aspects of the job posting you are applying for. Map your headline, summary and accomplishments to these requirements, highlighting the business-oriented impact that your success achieved. Quantify as much as you can accurately – in actual terms or relative percentages. Use your narrative to positively address the discrepancies between your job title and the job you have applied for. This will highlight why you are a good (or even exceptional) fit to be called for an interview.

tackling large variance between the job title and responsibilities

In certain cases, the gap between your title and responsibilities may be much larger. You may then try structuring your resume in terms of qualifications, competencies and accomplishments that resonate with the position you are applying for.

For example, the summary should aptly highlight your qualifications, attributes and experience that can accomplish the unique needs and challenges of the new responsibilities. The body of your resume can be tweaked to present the relevant competencies you bring to the table, and not a mere chronological narrative of your job experience. This gives you the perfect opening and opportunity to logically address your cross-functional accomplishments. It also influences the hiring team to focus on your relevant abilities.

The cover letter – a great showcase of your brand

The cover letter is a great medium to introduce ‘Brand You’ as a candidate. You can expand on the person behind your title and highlight why you believe you can achieve success for the organization with your strengths. In doing so, you can articulate your ‘go-getter’ attitude to assume greater responsibilities beyond your job title - and how you demonstrated this in your current job. 

A point of caution though. Keep the cover letter brief, sharing not more than a brief anecdote of success. Position your strengths powerfully that hints at a purposeful discussion should you be called for an interview (at the interview, be prepared with relevant examples of accomplishments that seamlessly flow from the cover letter and resume to establish you as the right fit).

job title or job responsibility – which should the resume show?

 It is a difficult dilemma. In a fair number of instances, professionals hold archaic or grand-sounding titles that have little relevance to the actual responsibilities they execute. Or, in certain cases, the title is so specific to their organization that it means very little beyond it. If you have such a situation, you face a difficult situation in accurately describing your professional experience on your resume. Would you be misrepresenting reality when you rephrase your title to represent your diverse functions? Or is it a disservice to your skills when you present yourself by the irrelevant job title and list your responsibilities under it?

The good news is that there is a happy medium to adopt. You may list your job title with an immediate and brief description of its function – and then go on to list your responsibilities. Or you may list the main function you perform – and mention your title in the description of responsibilities.

Your resume is a document that should honestly and comprehensively represent multiple dimensions of what you do – your complete scope of responsibilities, attributes of excellence in all that you do, your specialist skills, and even a preview of your potential. True, the organization is tasked with the responsibility to ensure that their employees are given titles compatible with the functions and responsibilities assigned to them. However, when it is not the case, you need to address the discrepancy with objectivity and integrity – to yourself, your current organization and the company to which you are applying.