Ask LH: Can I Leave Job Titles Off My Resume?

Hey Lifehacker, I've been applying for jobs that will stretch me but encompass a range of skills and tasks that I have regularly performed through my career. However, I hit a stumbling block with my resume: my job titles are too similar and narrowly focused.

I've been told that recruiters skip over the details of my achievements and just quickly pigeonhole me based on the job title. So I'm wondering: Is it OK to leave job titles out, and list achievements and skills instead? Thanks, Tricky Titles

Resume picture from Shutterstock

Dear TT,

This is a balancing act that's tricky to get right. On the one hand, your previous job titles do run the risk of pigeonholing you; especially if they're all from within the same industry. On the other hand, just listing your skills and achievements might make you sound under-qualified.

For example, "proven ability to lead a team in high-stress environments" could be describing a multinational CTO or a junior manager at a local burger joint. Without a job title, the recruiter won't have the foggiest idea. Any achievements that aren't tied to a specific project will therefore be ignored.

I posed your query to a friend who recently made the leap from journalism to public relations through a recruiter. Despite having limited PR experience on her resume, she managed to bag a senior executive role.

She said that while your resume is important, a good recruiting agency will use this as a starting point and help you to find the job you want via back-and-forth communication:

When I decided I wanted a career change, I did the usual thing and sent my resume to a recruiter. They asked me to come in for a face-to-face interview where they asked what I wanted and suggested possible matches, based on my desires and attributes. So while the resume was definitely important, the process is more involved than that. A good recruiter will help to steer you in the direction you want in addition to what your work history suggests.

In other words, it pays to do some research and approach a recruitment agency who will take the time to represent you properly. If any readers have additional advice on tailoring a resume for recruiters, let TT know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    it's a tough one. My last two jobs had position titles that meant nothing - every person in the building was a 'system administrator'.

    How do you find a good recruiter? All the ones I have dealt with have been pretty bad and I've only gone through them on a per job basis when they list something. I have sent my resume to some recruiters but never got any contact. Not sure if thats because I am in IT and theres so much competition they just don't contact people.

    Wouldnt mind a recruiter working for me trying to suit me to something I want to get into...

      lol... Go to a recruiting agency?

    In other words, it pays to do some research and approach a recruitment agency who will take the time to represent you properly.
    Sorry but NONE of them do that. NONE in my decade of experience do that. All they care about is quickly filling a role and sticking some commission in their pockets. Especially if you are going through a recruiter to get a position and are not selected, they tell you "We'll keep looking for you.." and you NEVER hear from them again. Happy to be proven wrong, but I have never heard of a good story from a recruitment agency from anyone in my circle of relatives/friends/co-workers, and my experience has been the same.

      My current role is 100% thanks to a recruiter. I heard back from them about a year later and asked said would I be interested in going for this role because of x y an z that I had previously said to them. I got the job and I can say I love it here.

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