I'm considering the various references to one's job title or position - paper or electronic resumes and CVs, online resume services such as LinkedIn and Stack Overflow Careers, and social media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter).

For some background, when I started work at my company, the job titles were {role} {level}. An entry level software engineer would be a Software Engineer I. You stayed a Software Engineer for a while, and a promotion was moving from a I to a II to a III to a IV and so on over years. Depending on your roles as an individual technical contributor or leadership activities, throughout your career, you may change titles, such as to a Senior Software Engineer I. But the role titles didn't change that frequently and almost always came with new responsibilities. However, now, there are fewer role titles and levels - the possibilities for an engineer are "Associate Engineer", "Engineer", "Senior Engineer", "Staff Engineer", and "Principle Engineer" (and perhaps one other one).

Back when we had the numbering system, nothing actually contained the level number except for my internal employee bio page that has your information automatically generated - my paper resume, my LinkedIn profile, my Stack Overflow Careers CV, and so on all just read "Software Engineer". However, I was recently promoted to "Senior Software Engineer" (which, under the old system would have been more equivalent to a Software Engineer III or IV and than a Senior Software Engineer I - the old Senior levels align more closely with the Staff Engineer and Principle Engineer titles).

Considering that my responsibilities haven't shifted (there are some more expectations and opportunities, but on a day-to-day basis, I'm doing the same work I was doing 3 or 4 months ago), what should I include as a job title on various services?

In my specific case, I personally feel that "Senior Software Engineer" implies a certain amount of experience and education that a 2011 graduate from a BS program and someone with 1 year of internship experience and 2 years of post-graduation work experience doesn't have. I'm hesitant to include it on anything other than internal documents. However, it is my title that appears in my email signature block and when people look me up on the employee directories.

I'm trying to balance the different meaning of different titles in organizations (our "Senior Software Engineer" and your "Senior Software Engineer" may be different and I don't want to introduce confusion or false ideas). However, at the same time, having the title shows progression through the hierarchy (if one understands the company's hierarchy and meaning).

Is there a standard approach to this?

I'm currently considering updating my paper resume, LinkedIn, and Stack Overflow Careers to read "Senior Software Engineer" since that is my formal title and these are more formal identifiers. For other social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, my Stack Exchange profile), I don't think the people reading them necessarily care about your title, so identifying as a "software engineer" is sufficient. Is this reasonable?

2 Answers 2


Your instincts are correct in that titles are only really meaningful within the context that they're applied (regardless of industry -- "Accountant II" in Company A might mean something completely different in Company B), and that in your specific case your own title of "Senior Software Engineer" applied to your experience would probably not match up in other places.

However, the standard approach (and expectation, from a hiring manager's perspective) as to profiles that are meant for consumption by recruiters and other external users (e.g. LinkedIn, Careers 2.0, your "paper" resume, etc) is that these profiles and resumes reflect the reality of your situation. In other words, if your title is "Senior Software Engineer" then that's what you say if for no other reason then those that you described: that's how you're identified officially by the company, and when the HR firm of another company calls to verify employment, they're going to ask if you're employed with the company as whatever your title indicates.

If the hiring manager is actually doing his or her job, they'll question your title when stacked up against your experience and try to figure out (by asking you) to describe the duties and responsibilities that go along with your title and try to slot that in to what fits in our own pay bands, what we need, etc. It would be pretty clear pretty quickly if you were a person who just moved through the ranks quickly, or is in a position that inflates position titles, or is just outright lying about their skills, which are some of the different things I would be trying to suss out (the first one is a good sign, the second is a sad reality that doesn't help anyone, and the third one is a bad sign).

For less professional profiles, you're right -- the specificity of your title is not as important, unless it is, to you, in how you want to present yourself to the world.


Don't worry too much.

I used to work for a Bank as an IT Analyst, and my Job title at work was Bank Clerk.

So, Put what you like but don't invent something new. If i speak Army terms don't put Admiral if you are a Sargent.

Its quite safe to Change your title to another if it matches your Job Description and Level. But not something you are not.

I've doing that myself, and you can see the reason from above, there's no way i'm putting Bank Clerk on my CV.

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