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I'm a QCV Editor. That doesn't stand for anything, it's just my initials. It's my new title at my company, sent out this week in an email about addressing the high turnover problem. Every software engineer here now has a unique acronym and term like "editor", "maintainer", "janitor", "operator", where before we were "back-end engineer" or "web developer". The company also says that they won't be able to verify employment in references if we list ourselves as our old title and someone calls mentioning that.

How should I go about trying to get a new job now? Should I keep my old "full-stack engineer" title and just say they can't call for a reference?

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Put both on your resume so that the reader will have a good idea on what you’re doing AND that your company has an alternative title system. The reader can just then read the description to determine the details of your job

e.g.

Super Hip Company - Backend Engineer (Internal Title Code: Hadouken)

Tuned and optimized SQL Queries to scale product up from a million queries a day to a billion per hour, etc.

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    Absolutely. You'll probably get a short question about it, but after answering that short and truthfully there's not much harm done. – Mast Dec 6 '19 at 11:14
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    Readers will also know why you are searching for another job, no question asked about your current position. – Felipe Pereira Dec 6 '19 at 12:25
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    I like it but still I would recommend against it. Leave the internal title off your resume. If and only if the prospective company asks to do a background check give them the internal title. – emory Dec 6 '19 at 19:20
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The company also says that they won't be able to verify employment in references if we list ourselves as our old title and someone calls mentioning that.

That seems extremely unlikely.

Perhaps a foolish HR Rep might say something like "no, that's not the current title" and tell the potential employer the made-up nonsense title. But I seriously doubt they would say that you didn't actually work there. That would be a lie, and in general HR reps won't lie.

If I were checking references, and the reference I contacted told me a nonsense title, I'd ask them the duties of the job. In your case, I'd quickly understand that you were a full-stack engineer. And of course I'd also quickly understand how ridiculous the new title was.

How should I go about trying to get a new job now? Should I keep my old "full-stack engineer" title and just say they can't call for a reference?

In your resume, you should keep the old "Full-stack Engineer".

If the new title ever comes up, you can explain the company's odd change as you have here. My guess is that the hiring manager would just laugh and shake their head.

Hopefully, you find a new job soon and leave this company's wacky practice behind.

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    The HR rep can say that you didn't work there with that job title, if I call myself CEO and they call my company to ask if I worked there as CEO they will say no. So if they ask if QCV worked there as a full stack dev they can say no, because of the information they have, he wasn't a full stack dev but a QCV Editor. – Jungkook Dec 6 '19 at 11:52
  • Yeah of course, but the whole thing is weird especially that they say they won't recognize the old job title when someone asks about it. – Jungkook Dec 6 '19 at 12:05
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    @Jungkook Except of course for the fact that the OP did work there as a full-stack engineer. So they'd have to say "no, that person didn't work here as a <title> after the end of 2019" (because before december 2019, the job titles hadn't changed yet). – Jasper Dec 6 '19 at 12:22
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    This may be part of a deliberate attempt to make it harder for people to leave. Given that, and sufficiently strong company policy.... – Ben Barden Dec 6 '19 at 15:02
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I started out thinking that this was the relevant Dilbert cartoon, but it is more insidious.

The company also says that they won't be able to verify employment in references if we list ourselves as our old title and someone calls mentioning that.

Their solution to turnover is to try and render you unemployable elsewhere

Keep the old title on your resume and just tell this detail to the hiring manager whenever you get an interview for a new job (which hopefully would be soon). Tell them proactively, as I disagree with part of Joe's answer.

A HR rep at a major company would be unlikely to lie, but you clearly do not work for AT&T or Ford. This is evidently a company where the absurd is allowed and if the HR person is also the company founder or another early position in a startup, then screwing with someone they might view as a traitor is hardly unheard of.

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    If you give the job title information early, you probably will not even be asked "Why do you want to leave your current job?". – Patricia Shanahan Dec 6 '19 at 3:04
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    I would have thought this one dilbert.com/strip/1997-07-23 was more relevant. – Simon B Dec 8 '19 at 23:38
  • @SimonB I was 7 months old when that one came out, but it is bang on. – Matthew Gaiser Dec 9 '19 at 1:06
  • Half the questions here are some variant of Help, I'm Trapped in a Dilbert Strip. – Studoku Dec 9 '19 at 13:44
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This must be a joke, if it is, it's pretty funny.

Just wait a couple of days

If it's really a joke, everyone will know in a couple of workdays. If after a couple of workdays, you still think your boss was serious, then do the following.

Document everything

Email your HR (or the second in command) to ask if your boss was serious or not. Keep all the emails. Keep the original email from your boss especially (but if he didn't put anything in writing, summarize his policy in your email). Print them out (with their full headers). And keep copies at home.

If you're not 100% sure that it was a joke, keep everything just in case.

Find other references

Make a pact with the other employees to provide references to them should they leave before you do, or that they provide references to you should you leave before they do.

Verify the reference from your employer

The first time someone leaves after this policy. Talk to that person and get everybody to chip in for a third party reference check. There are numerous companies that do that. If the reference check goes bad, that third party company will be able to document it.

And if this really does happen, encourage the person that just left to seek help from a lawyer. Hopefully, that person will be able to find a lawyer willing to work on contingency.

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    Email your HR (or the second in command) to ask if this was a joke or not. This may be obvious, but I would be a little careful with wording such an email. If your boss is telling you "this is policy" and you email HR and ask them (literally) if that is a joke, I wouldn't expect anyone to be very happy with you. – dwizum Dec 6 '19 at 14:14
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    @dwizum, Yes, be careful wording it. I completely agree with that. I've amended my answer slightly. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 6 '19 at 14:23
  • I don't know if I could resist owning it. Like asking if I rather could be "Vice Chief Editing Operations QCV" or something like that. – Fildor Dec 6 '19 at 14:25
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    You're working on the assumption that QCV's boss sent out this email. It may well have come from CorporateHR@Whacky.com and be an official HR policy, not a small department's boss' oddly early April Fools joke. – FreeMan Dec 6 '19 at 16:07
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    @nasch, I don't have an objection to the new titles, I only object to the fact that the employer said it wouldn't provide references to the old titles the employees were originally hired under. In which case, I'd really be curious to hear what they'd say when someone asked: Did employee John Doe work there? What title did he have? Was he called "Janitor" during the entire duration he was employed? Or was he given this "janitor" title shortly before he resigned? If the company tells the truth. I have no problem with that. But if the company says that he was always janitor. That's defamation. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 6 '19 at 16:43
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Just a thought, this may not apply in your case, but:

In the UK, employment law says you can't make a role redundant and employ someone else in that role for at least 6 months - one way around this that a savvy company may try (and I've worked for such a company previously) is to give each employee a different title - giving the ability to make any one of them redundant, whilst being able to hire a new replacement almost immediately.

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    So, if they have the employees Alice, Bob, and Carol all working in accounting, they can just make them "Number Wizard Alice", "aBOBcountant`, and "Supreme High Number Chief Carol", then remove any one of those positions legally and hire a "His Numerical Majesty, Dave" instead? That's...insidious. – VLAZ Dec 6 '19 at 14:37
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    @VLAZ: I don't think it is legal, it's just less blatantly obvious that it's illegal. That is: this is not a clever hack to get around the law, it's clever hack to dissuade people from taking it to tribunal. If the law actually got to the point of considering the case, it would not automatically accept that a different job title implies it's a different role. – Steve Jessop Dec 6 '19 at 14:48
  • I think if such a case comes to a tribunal and the company declares with a straight face that they have a "Number Wizard" and an "aBOBcountant" and didn't need a "Supreme High Number Chief" anymore, there will be a zero added to any penalty they have to pay. For trying to be a smart ass. Nobody likes a smart ass. – gnasher729 Dec 8 '19 at 22:08
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To add to the excellent answer about documentation: keep some old pay stubs. If company says you didn’t work there, you can show that they are lying. (And maybe you even have the old job title on it.). Also, if you still have it, the transfer/promotion/job offer that has the old title.

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  • To the user who raised Low Quality Post flag on this answer, please specify what's wrong with it. As far as I know, the pay stub usually at least tells the pay date, amount paid, the organization and as the OP says, may be the job title. I fail to see anything wrong here. If you disagree, please specify the problem to convince me this is indeed a low quality one. For now, an upvote. – scaaahu Dec 7 '19 at 8:50
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Optimise your resume for the reader.

Only put exactly the information they need in there. This obscure job title from your current employer is just noise. It benefits nobody to include it - it only risks misunderstanding.

Make things as easy as possible for the hiring manager who will read your resume. They'll have many to read with limited time. Use the industry standard title, or the title they're hiring for if it's a similar role.

And don't worry about the reference thing. To the extent it's an issue, you can inform them about it and deal with it later when they're already invested in hiring you. At that point, any minor/silly inconveniences in obtaining a reference will be worked around.

What you should be optimising for now is getting your resume noticed, and securing an interview.

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I think it's fairly important to frame answers to this question in the context of typical advice - because this is a rare situation where typical advice may not make sense (which makes this question not a duplicate of the many well answered questions about how to list job titles on resumes.)

Resumes are sales tools. You are selling yourself to potential employers. So, you should try to follow typical best practices for other sales tools: You want your resume to be interesting, relevant, and truthful.

When it comes to listing job titles, people sometimes have the desire to lean heavily on the interesting and relevant criteria, and come up with great-sounding or "more standard" titles than they actually have. This is often advised against, because it can be a slippery slope. Providing titles that have any chance of being interpreted as misleading (when compared to your real title) can leave you looking like you're trying too hard, or that you're downright deceptive. Those are not the traits you want your potential new employer to identify you with. Hence, typical advice is to be 100% literal and truthful with your job title on your resume, and then use the description you provide to actually lay out what you really did. This is a best of both worlds approach because it allows you to remain honest, yet still provide relevant detail.

However, in the case of a (deliberately?) obscure and unintelligible title, it's arguably not the best idea to follow this typical advice. If I was hiring for a back end developer and I was scanning through my employer's HR recruiting tool (which pulls job titles from your resume and lists them next to candidate's names in a list) and I saw QCV Editor, I would be confused, at best - or turned off from looking at you, at worst.

So, in this case, as suggested by other answers, it probably makes sense to list something else - perhaps with an explanation of the internal title. Such as,

Back End Developer (QCV Editor)

This will help avoid confusion while still allowing you to (more or less) remain faithful to typical advice about not "faking" job titles.

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  • Most of the jobs I've had didn't include an official job title, other than the generic descriptor used in the job description. I've even been told to give myself a job title. Using an industry standard title is common and more useful when it's a descriptive title, rather than "QCV Editor". Using a specific title like that which no one knows is more likely to get the questions thrown at it. – computercarguy Dec 6 '19 at 20:48
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On my resume I just put the title at my company and write out the description. I find it difficult to believe that a company's verification can't say you worked there because your title mismatched. Usually a company calls a past employer and simply ask if X worked there for Y under the title Z. It sounds like they want you to think twice about leaving especially if you're in a high position so you can't move to a job with a higher pay.

My previous company went the route of obscuring everyone's title to something very difficult to understand. The reason is simple: they don't want to give pay raises to people. The problem at my last company a lot of folks complained why someone in the same title is making more when they both worked the same amount of time. The company couldn't really answer so the solution they came up with is that everyone's title is different. So if you both share the same job, they can argue that your titles are different and that tile pays more.

It seems like your company took an extra step and made it to where they don't want you to find a new job. Perhaps your company suffers a high turn over? And maybe they want people to think twice, especially folks who stayed around for years and can't adequately explain their job title elsewhere. For example, if year 1-4 you were a entry developer, then years 5-6 you were manager, but then years 7-10, you were "Superman XWing Fighter Superduper" then you really can't explain the title and they can't say well for the previous years, you were manager. So your next job you can't say you were a manager for 5 years thus losing your credibility.

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