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In my last company I was hired as a web developer. The 2 titles used in the company were:

  • developer
  • senior developer

There was nothing official in place for progression and being upgraded to the senior title was a rare occurrence and not really based on anything.

After a number of years I asked for the senior title and pay rise during a performance review with my boss and manager. I was told there was a list of criteria that had to be met. I asked what this was because my work, responsibilities and knowledge had risen above the developers with the senior title. They avoided answering.

I had further conversations with the manager pointing out that emails sent by the boss to the client (accidentally CC'ed in to myself) refer to me as the "senior developer" on the project.

I then had to ask a new manager why new junior devs joining the company keep referring to me as the senior developer when I didn't have the title officially. This turned out to be a mistake as the manager assumed I was a senior developer.

After pushing the new manager, he admitted there was no list of criteria, and it was so they could keep me on a junior salary, mainly because sales were under quoting everything because they get a bonus based on number of sales, regardless of the project making an overall loss.

My request for senior title was used as an excuse by the company to pile on more and more responsibilities with no intention of giving me the promotion.

TL;DR

The question is, can I put the senior title on my CV?

Even though I didn't have the title officially, I was sold to clients as a senior developer, and junior developers were told by the manager I was the senior developer for my projects.

The problem is if an employer checks my reference, it will look like I'm lying. So is there a better way to show I was in a senior position, that will stand out?

How do I explain to a future employer that I deserve a senior's salary?

Because of my title and salary recruiters won't put me forward for senior positions.

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    The golden rule should be when they look into it or question you what are they going to find. If they call your company and they say you were not a senior developer you are going to lose that job. – user111472 Feb 14 at 11:24
  • exactly, is there a good solution to that. Is there anyway I can show on my CV that I was in a senior position, that will stand out? – flexi Feb 14 at 11:31
  • You use the title your company would give out when contacted for a background check. No exceptions. Alternate (equivalent) criteria: The title printed on your business cards. The title in your email signature. – Kaz Feb 14 at 13:21
  • What's your location? CV indicates probably not the US, but in the US I'd say it's more lax than answers are indicating in your case. Generally, you're more free to alter your title to describe what you did to your target audience. By the time references are checked, you would have interviewed and had opportunity to clarify any shortcuts to make your resume understandable. I'd still caution to make sure it's a role you can legitimately demonstrate you performed. – SemiGeek Feb 14 at 15:29
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    'Developer with senior responsibilities' You can then expand and say what those responsibilities were, and the previous company shouldn't be able to argue with any of them, because the responsibilities should match. – Smock Feb 14 at 16:06
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The question is, can I put the senior title on my CV?

In this case, NO. Do not "invent" new title / designation, go by what you can prove (contract / references).

How do I explain to a future employer that I deserve a seniors salary?

This will entirely depend on the factor that how much value you bring in and going to add to the organization. Do not demand for a salary based on a title / designation. Ask for a salary based on

  • Job description (and responsibilities)
  • Your expertise, knowledge and proficiency
  • Market research.

Basically, prove that you are worth to be paid a certain amount because of your work, not only because you hold a title.

Oh yes, and there's no standard range for "seniors salary" - I have seen people with designation "Software engineer" in one organization earning more than some "Project Leader" or "Senior Lead Engineer" in another organization. Decide how much you are worth of and ask for that amount during negotiation.

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  • I agree, but often I found employers and recruiters want to know your previous salary, and if it's too low they lose interest in you as a candidate. – flexi Feb 14 at 11:42
  • Even had a recruiter laugh down the phone at me because I wanted close to a 50% increase. - That would still be considered low pay for a senior. – flexi Feb 14 at 11:44
  • @flexi That maybe true, but at the end of the day, you should be happy by accepting any offer which pays a certain amount, as otherwise, you'll not be motivated and eventually will be looking for some other opportunity. – Sourav Ghosh Feb 14 at 11:47
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    @flexi That's easily fixable, just don't tell them how much you are paid now. Focus on what you WILL be paid instead. And if then still you are not getting higher offers, well, that's where you are market-wise. – Tymoteusz Paul Feb 14 at 13:03
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can I put the senior title on my CV?

No.

I know it is nice to have a "senior" badge in your resume, but it is not about this. You are "selling" to a potentional employer not your title but:

  1. Experience
  2. Knowledge
  3. Projects done
  4. Professionalism
  5. etc.

Consider this: Senior developer in noName startup doing Wordpress has fewer market value as junior developer at Google doing AI for search engine.

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No you can't, but it actually a good thing.

The previous answers are great. I'll add to it that a potential employer would probably be more impressed that you assumed the level of responsibility and the leadership role that you did without having that title. That shows a willingness to step-up, and who doesn't want to hire someone like that?

Your lack of a title can play strongly to your advantage. Present it as such.

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