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Job Title Hurting Your Resume?

Job Title Hurting Your Resume?

Have you ever changed your resume to better fit the position?

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I’m having trouble getting interviewed and I feel my resume is to blame, but I think my unique situation may also share some of that trouble.

My husband and I own a small construction company. I’m actually majority owner, and we employ between five to 15 employees depending on our job load. My actual duties include everything from payroll to tax preparation to AR and AP, HR responsibilities, advertising, customer service, and public relations (which is what I hold my degree in.)

I am not happy and have decided to pursue another career. However, any job I have applied for, I have not gotten an interview. I think employers see “president” on my resume and immediately throw it away because they assume I will ask for a higher salary than they are prepared to pay. Or they think maybe I am overqualified, or will be too high maintenance or a big know-it-all in the office.

How can I get potential employers to see that I am a team player with a passion for public relations? (I have extensive experience in my community with non-profit public relations campaigns, so I feel I am qualified for at least entry work in this field.)

This may be overly simplistic, but have you thought about changing your title? As the owner of the company, you can give yourself any title you want, and “president” may not be serving you well in your job search. Why not give yourself a title that reflects the PR work you do and rewrite your resume to focus on that?

You shouldn’t be deceitful, so you should also include information about the rest of your role — it’s only fair that employers understand that you haven’t been devoted 100% to PR — but you can certainly highlight the PR stuff and keep the biggest focus on that.

Now, if the PR work you do for your company only accounts for 5% of your time, this isn’t a good approach — it’s not accurate and it’ll likely come out during the interview. But if it’s truly a significant chunk of your time, this isn’t a bad way to go. And combined with your volunteer PR work for nonprofits, you should be in pretty good shape.

Of course, all that said, you also want to ask yourself whether your trouble getting interviews might not be about this issue at all. It could be that your resume isn’t presenting you well, or that your cover letter is terrible, or simply that in this market people generally need to apply for a lot of jobs in order to get interviews. But if you’ve ruled those factors out, I’d play with your title, since you control it.