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A friend of mine will soon apply for her first management position, and she was coached by a professional resume writer (who I don't know). That coach recommended to write the resume with the title of the position she wants to get, not with her current role, so her draft is now titled 'rahrahrah Manager'.

Personally, my first thought is that this is ridiculous, and if I get such a resume knowing she doesn't and didn't ever have that role, I would consider it trying to cheat at minimum, and probably would discard this candidate right away.
The application is within the same company, and everyone in the hiring process will know her current role, there is no chance that they would assume she already has a management role.

The coach's reasoning was that 'this is the new style', and it impresses that you are 'ready for that role' and 'feel right at home in it'.

Question: is this a valid and usual approach? Would it be acceptable, or considered fishy?

It could well be that I lived under a rock too long, and I'm fine to get 'ok boomer', but I actually don't want her to ruin her chances, so I'd like to know if this is nowadays common and accepted.

Edit: I am talking about the title on the resume, not the cover letter. I understand that a cover letter would refer to the offered position's title (and mention it as a bolded title potentially); that's not what I mean.
This is in the USA.

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    In what way is she adding the title? In the file name? As her most recent position? Elsewhere? If it's only in the filename, I can understand that, make it clear to whoever is reviewing what position you are applying for. – Issel Jun 3 at 5:53
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Jun 3 at 11:40
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    "I am talking about the title on the resume" Just to make it crystal clear because there is ongoing confusion: is this recruiter recommending to include the title of the position you are applying to in the: filename of your resume / the "profile" or some other title at the top of your resume / instead of your actual job title in your current job? – Lilienthal Jun 3 at 13:06

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Well, this was "the new style" since I sent out my first application 20 years ago. It's not exactly hipster, it's supposed to be assertive and powerful, but it's been around for a while.

Personally, what other people call assertive and powerful more often than not strikes me as arrogant and rude. But that is just my personal taste. Yes, this is a common recommendation, whether I like it or not.

Normally this is recommended for the cover letter though. Basically it's the subject of your whole package of cover letter and CV. It's what you apply for. Why you write all that stuff. Well, the summary. The subject. The bold big line the whole letter starts with. Calling it "title" is a little misleading in this context, it's not supposed to be the applicants title as in former job title, it's the title of the document.

It's not illegal, it's not even misleading. It's the topic of the conversation, just shortened from "Concerning your job opening of senior widget frobricant" to just "Senior Widget Frobricant".

In the end, your friend has to be comfortable with what she sends. If she thinks it's okay, then it's certainly not out of the ordinary. You can read that in almost every book on the topic. It's not brand new, it's at least 20 years old. If she does not like it though she should not use it. Not because it's wrong, but because it's more important she likes her resume and is confident handing it to people than it is to make the coach happy or follow some "how to" book.

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    Giving yourself a blatantly untrue title on your resume (e.g. putting it under your name) seems completely different from putting the title of the job you're applying for on the letter motivating why you should get that job (trying to write such a letter without that would be kind of awkward). Grouping the two into one seems misleading. If that's not what you meant, I would suggest editing to clarify. – NotThatGuy Jun 3 at 7:30
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    What I mean is nowhere but in the other answers does it say she is supposed to put the new job title as her job title. The other answers probably misunderstood the question. – nvoigt Jun 3 at 8:08
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    Where else on a resume do you put a job title, if not as one's own title or the title of any given job you've held? Most, if not all, resume templates I've seen puts the applicant's name as the primary title of the resume and some of them put a title underneath that (which carries a very strong implication of that title being the applicant's title). – NotThatGuy Jun 3 at 9:41
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    @NotThatGuy: Explicitly stating you've worked in that position when you haven't is fraudulent. However, there is nothing that says that a document title must invariably claim to be a professionally held title/role - and that distinction is exactly why this (imho intentionally misleading) document title is not technically fraudulent. – Flater Jun 3 at 10:47
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    Hm, the title of my CV is „CV of Name“ or just "CV" when it's multi-page and the cover letter already made it clear it's me. Seemed obvious to me so I didn’t mention it. – nvoigt Jun 3 at 11:20
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Question: is this a valid and usual approach? Would it be acceptable, or considered fishy?

Your resume is supposed to represent your past and current knowledge, experience, and titles. If you add a title that you do not currently possess, you are lying on your resume. I can't think of any company that would find it acceptable for their applicants to lie about their qualifications.

I would advise your friend to only enter information that is truthful on their resume.

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    I don't think the advice was to use the title as their own, just to put the job title they are looking for as the "title" (aka subject, aka headline) of their resume. – nvoigt Jun 2 at 19:27
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    @nvoigt You could well be right, but the question is definitely a bit confusing on this point. E.g. the question's title of "should a resume be titled as if you have the position already?" suggests that it is written in a misleading way. I will comment to the OP to suggest rewording that. – Jon Bentley Jun 3 at 8:47
  • Is it though? When close to finish college, I would always send resumes saying "Software Engineer" rather than "Software Engineering Student". I see no point in keeping the "Student" in the title if graduation is nigh, plus, nobody wants to hire someone as a "student" (maybe as intern, which I could have preferred before, but didn't). Plus, my CV would explicitly say my foreseen graduation date, hence no lies if you pay minimum attention. Bonus: This keeps the CV up to date for a few more months. Maybe "manager" level is a bit different than "first job" though. – Mefitico Jun 3 at 18:32
  • @Mefitico After graduating (which is when you'd be offered a position) you wouldn't be a "student" anyway though so I think it's fine to leave that out, and as you've said education history is out in the open on the CV anyway – QuickishFM Jun 4 at 12:52
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TL;TR It's valid: when a position is in the title, it's the CV's title, not your current position

It's recommended (at least here in France) to keep your CV short and readable (usually one page here). When you have a carreer with different domains of experience, and look for jobs in those different domains, you should create a different CV for each one, and not include your past positions the same way and with the same amount of details, to keep what's relevant for the domain considered. The CV is then titled with the job you are looking for, so that it's easier for an organism that distributes CVs to know which one to use (for example in my country we have a employment national agency that can distribute your CV to companies).

It's different than lying about your past positions titles that are listed below in the CV, where the future employer can clearly see if you already worked in the position you look for or not. And if you worked in different domains and are currently unemployed, you don't have a single clear carreer title to show anyway.

So, yes, it is valid if you have a single position, and even often recommended if you have more than one, to easily distinguish between your different CVs.

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    Yes it seems pretty clear to me that it was the CV's title. I am not sure why people thought it means lying on your current position, like who would do that and to what purpose? – Gainz Jun 3 at 14:39
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    "Curriculum vitae" is CVs title. I have no idea what else should be a "title" of an idiomatic document. – Davor Jun 3 at 19:24
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    @Davor if you say so, I guess all books are titled "Book" in your place.. I wasn't the one that decided how CVs should be presented, don't blame me :) – Kaddath Jun 3 at 22:24
  • No, for a CV it's actually common to have Curriculum Vitae as the title or sub-title at the top of the document, with the other (sub-title or title) being your full name. – Mast Jun 4 at 6:35
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    @Davor sorry not personal, got a lot of things to do that are not going well, just wish more people focus on what's essential, should have just let it go ;) everyone can have a bad day – Kaddath Jun 4 at 9:20
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This question confuses me.

That coach recommended to write the resume with the title of the position she wants to get, not with her current role

Since when do you title your resume/CV with a position title? My CV is titled with my name. I'd recommend anyone to do the same.

If you want to add a sub-title, then "Application for {xyz position}" seems clear, unambiguous and presumably helpful to the hiring manager who wants to see at a glance what position you're applying for.

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    Since always. Your resume/CV should always be titled [name] [position applying for] in order to aid recruiters and hiring managers in keeping organized. – Alex M Jun 3 at 23:44
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    Name is required, position is optional. However it's a good idea to put the position on a resume, if you're applying for a specific position. The rules for academic CVs are a little different, position is much less important there. "Application for" is OK if you're uncomfortable without that disclaimer (protip: most hiring managers care little about the wording and the formatting), doesn't really add anything. – ZOMVID-20 Jun 4 at 0:59
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The title of the resume as a document is the position you're applying for.
No one expects it to necessarily be your previous or current job title. Those have a company and a start date.

Please consider this from your hiring manager's viewpoint. At any given time, I'm likely to have about 5 open positions, and about 20 resumes to consider. Hiring isn't the core of my job, just one of the responsibilities.

Now, as I'm reviewing the resumes and scheduling the interviews, I need a way to quickly:

  • Recall which position John Doe applied for,
  • Check others who have applied to this position, to see if interviewing John still makes sense,
  • Share this information with other interviewers, whose input I want for the interview.

The easiest way to avoid confusion is to put the position on top of the document. This way, someone with three resumes in their hand (two from another department) won't mistake a support engineer for a developer and start asking them about the heap. These things happen.

Think of it like product packaging: you want to see right away if it's motor oil or a jar of cookies. There's nothing overly assertive, much less dishonest, about advertising a product you intend to be used to lubricate engines as "motor oil", even if the customer hasn't yet decided if it's the right oil for their engine.

You're advertising yourself to be used (that's what the term "employed" literally means) as a "Teapot department manager". Put that on the packaging and let the employer decide if you look like the right manager for their needs.

The one time you'd want to leave the title off is if you're not sure what the position is called, or want to be considered for multiple positions (happens when recruiters approach you). One can still list a generic position such as "engineer" or "team lead" to indicate a broad range of jobs they're interested in.

Placement matters, of course. "John Doe, Teapot Manager" in a signature would suggest holding that job title. But as a resume/CV title, it's clear and concise.

The only way it could amount to lying is by styling it like a job experience, "Your company, Teapot manager, Presently". Clearly that's not the case here, but I've seen this particular bad advice on the net. Even that would really be perceived as tacky, not dishonest.

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  • To be fair, you could already have the position you are applying for, if your reason for applying is not to get a new, higher position in the field. You may be looking for better pay, or for a new experience that your current company cannot offer. So it's entirely possible for an application to already carry a fairly common job title. – Zibbobz Jun 3 at 13:23
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Typical 'bad coach' advice

This is a really bad interpretation by the coach of the generally good advice that you should appropriately tailor your resume to a company.

That means you should translate company-specific terms and job titles in good faith, where they mean the same thing, saving the people reviewing your application effort by avoiding needless friction.

It does not mean you should take liberties with those translations, or outright lie, to deliberately deceive them into thinking you have experience you don't have.

Ultimately you're doing the same thing in both cases - modifying your job title - but for very different reasons. This is a classic 'bad coach' hallmark that you should look out for and avoid. This type of advice starts with the superficial effects of genuine, good strategies, ignores all the reasoning that leads there, and simply prescribes an extreme version of the effect itself as the strategy.

This obviously doesn't work, but offers an appealing shortcut to achieving things without putting in the work. Skip the hard part, simply 'do' or 'be' the result, right? Easy sales for the coach, bad outcomes for you.

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Should a resume be titled as if you have the position already?

No you should put your official title for your current and previous position on your resume. Putting a title that isn't your official title, especially a title that you aspire to have is lying. I strongly discourage this practice and depending on her location, this is illegal.

The coach's reasoning was that 'this is the new style', and it impresses that you are 'ready for that role' and 'feel right at home in it'.

Nope it's still lying. I recommend that your friend write a cover letter stating why she would be a good 'rahrahrah Manager' even though she has never held the exact or similar title.

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    Using your official title is bad advice, except when applying in your own organization. Other organizations probably don't have job titles that translate the same. And forget about it if they are in different industries or lines of business. In a large organization, it's dicey because different departments may use titles in non-interchangeable ways. – indigochild Jun 3 at 5:40
  • In the CV they could just as easily put "for the position of <manager position>" after their name to alleviate all confusion, but I agree, at least from my experience the cover letter links the CV to the role itself (even though the CV is tailored to include experience/skills/achievements best suited to the role). – QuickishFM Jun 4 at 12:57
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That's not ridiculous at all to put the desired position in the title, in fact, sometimes the opposite would be. If you apply to a "Java Developer" position with a resumé titled "McDonalds Shift Lead", you will not be taken seriously.

If you list a fake Java developer position in your past experiences section when if fact your only worked in McDonalds, that would be lying on the resumé.

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It's certainly common to see resumes with a heading that's neither the word “Resume” or “CV” nor the person's current job title. The current role and exact job titles go in the “experience” section and I have also read advice against a title like “Resume” as it's rather uninformative and wastes space for something that should be obvious from the rest of the document. Thus, I see no problem writing “Senior XYZ” if you have significant experience in XYZ, even if that's the name of the job you're applying for rather than your current job title.

That said, calling yourself a manager when you have no management experience might be a step too far. I am not too bothered about the discrepancy with the current role as I am with the gap between an individual contributor/expert role and a management position. What about something like “Lead rahrahrah"? It's assertive and hopefully reflects a level of expertise and influence that she does already possess while signalling an interest for the management facet of the new role.

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One additional reason this can be good advice is that it makes it clear to the hiring manager that you are customizing your resumé to their position, specifically, and aren't just mass-mailing resumés to every job you find on ZipDeeDoor matching some keywords.

Any time you can personalize your resumé and/or application a bit at least for the target position, do, as it tends to improve your chances of standing out from the crowd. If I get a resumé that has the name of the position on it, I'm more likely to look at it than one that's just generic.

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This method works as a form of subliminal messaging.

The hiring manager will read "SENIOR WIDGET MANAGER", then read about you, then read "SENIOR WIDGET MANAGER".

Not a foolproof plan but it makes it less likely that they will be murmuring your former job title "junior widget noob" while reading about your achievements.

I put my name at the top of applications for a similar reason. I want to make it more likely than a reader will associate the good stuff on my resume with me, and slightly less likely they will get muddled and misremember some of it as belonging to someone else.

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