The job title you have at your company is not the same as the one you need on your resume. Companies have their own way of providing titles for their employees. The titles relate to the culture or how someone did titles 20 years ago, or just to have people feel more important about the job they do. Sanitation Engineer, anyone?

Resumes Are Different

But when it comes to resumes, your company job title may, in fact, be hurting your search. Let's go back to the purpose of the resume: to get you an initial interview. That's it. Not get the job, not secure an offer. No, just get the initial interview. That means you want to have the largest number of recruiters selecting your resume to review -- and not throw it out in less than 10 seconds. That brings us to the critical piece about your job title: Recruiters search for candidates by the industry standard job title.

Use Industry Standard Job Titles

You don't want to have your company-issued "Data Janitor II" job title leading your resume. You want "Database Analyst" because that's the standard. You don't want your company-issued "Senior Project Manager Lead." You want "Project Manager" because that's the standard. Note how generic industry titles are. Even having a "senior" in front of a standard title limits the number of people who will see your resume and think about reviewing it. In the words of one consulting firm owner:

The difference between a Senior Project Manager and Project Manager is pay. If you don't get the interview because your resume was never seen in the first place, you can't negotiate pay.

There's a school of thought that you should have your real company title in the resume. If you think that's a good thing to do, then make the industry standard the one that is bold-faced or italicized. Then include your company job title in describing your work. That way, the recruiter's search engine will find the industry standard -- and you get a shot at getting selected for an interview.

How Do You Search for Positions?

So when you're searching for positions on, say, Dice, how do you go about it? Sure, there is geography and pay and all that other stuff, but in the end you're looking for a specifically titled position. When you search for a "Data Janitor II" position, you'll not find many. If you search for a "Senior Data Analyst" position, you'll get some hits. And if you search for a standard-titled "Data Analyst" position, you'll get even more. To turn that around, if you were a recruiter, wouldn't you want to have a good pool of candidates for a specific position to fill? Then, when you throw out resumes after 10 seconds, you can have a few more resumes to find the right candidate for an interview.

It's About Getting the Interview

There are a few of us out there who get hung up on the title of our position. Or, we think that we would never take anything that doesn't have "Senior" or "Vice President" or "Manager" or "III" in their job title. If that's you, I'd urge you to get that ego out of the way. It's far more important to get the interview. After that, it's about the money a company would pay you to do the work. After all, if you never get the interview in the first place because recruiters and their search programs blow right by your resume job title, there are no title or dollars to negotiate. In the comments, let's help a few people out. What's your "company" job title and what do you think your "resume" job title should be?