Everyone with the same job title as me / in my department has a PhD, I only have 2 bachelor's degrees. I'm officially at an Engineer 1 level (I think level 2 was postponed due to COVID promotion freezes), but that is not my official title. My work sounds impressive, and I have had a small part in some impressive projects (that I don't exaggerate). But the problem is for the last year or so I've been sucked into a completely different type of work that has little to do with my official title.

I am struggling how to put this on my resume because it's like I'm working 2 very different jobs at once, but the work under my official title has rarely been done over the last year. And with that, I feel like my skills have atrophied a bit as far as what's relevant to my official job title.

Maybe it's a silly concern, but I'm worried that (1) I will look overqualified when I'm truly not and (2) my resume will be confusing if I have two concurrent roles OR if I have one very convoluted role that tries to combine the two.

So far I've just separated them on my LinkedIn as if they were two concurrent positions. Because they are just so different it hardly makes sense to put them together. And in some sense, I am attempting to do them both at the same time (and my boss expects me to).

How should I handle this on my resume? One is research engineer (prototyping new tech) and the other is lead engineer for a specific product (>90% of my time toward PM and not actual engineering work). Technically I do "lead" the engineering via PM, and I was given the unofficial title of Tech Lead by my department. But I feel like these titles make me appear more experienced than I truly am, because at larger companies there's no way I'd have these titles.

I'm wondering if applying to something like "data analyst" would be seen as suspicious or odd. I can't even apply to other companies for "research engineer" because they all require PhDs (and honestly, they should). So I feel like I'm in an awkward spot.

Frankly I'm just tired of unsuccessfully trying to be stretched between two positions that have such a vast difference in cognitive demand. I can't realistically do them both and I have been promised since I started working on this that they would hire someone to officially replace me, and it hasn't happened despite (1) my significant efforts to show how my workload can be distributed to appropriate parties and (2) major demands from our customers increasing our sales on the product I lead (even to levels that exceed our other product lines).

So I feel like I have no hope and they're going to ride out underpaying me as long as they can until I finally quit. The PM work I do seems under my pay grade, so asking for a promotion seems impossible. My boss has not officially acknowledged the tough position he's put me in in performance reviews, only as an apologetic aside in 1-on-1 meetings. And yet I feel trapped in that my skills don't match my titles, so I'm not sure how to approach a new job search either.


2 Answers 2


I'd just make up a job title that was remotely plausible and leave it at that. Titles don't really mean much for a lot of small companies, in my experience, anyway.

Like my offer letter from five years ago for my current job says "Lead Software Engineer". and yet a new employee orientation handbook I saw from a year ago referred to me as "Software Engineer" whilst referring to another developer as "Lead Software Engineer". So what's my title? idk. I just normalize all of them and put "Software Engineer" on my LinkedIn / resume.

The offer letter I had from another past job referred to my job title as "IT Specialist" but depending on where you looked I had up to seven different job titles (Software Developer, Software Engineer, Senior Software Developer, IT Administrator, etc). So what was my "official" job title? idk.

If your responsibilities don't fit any one job title very well come up with a generic job title and then elaborate in the 1-2 sentence summary of what you did. If a prospective employer has further questions they can ask them over the phone or in-person.

  • Ok but what about the fact that I have basically two sets of completely separate job responsibilities? Even if I try to combine it as "Tech Engineer" or something, that doesn't help describe what I do at all, it really just describes my industry, if anything.
    – q-compute
    Feb 18, 2021 at 17:23
  • 2
    @q-compute - Typically you elaborate on your responsibilities in your resume. Like maybe a sentence or two. If the interviews have further questions they can ask you over the phone or in-person.
    – neubert
    Feb 18, 2021 at 17:24
  • @q-compute, I agree with Neubert, in your case, you should only put your real title(s) on the background verification application form, not on the resume itself. With that said, make sure that your LinkedIn matches your resume to a degree. Mar 21, 2021 at 8:20
  • @q-compute do not feel shy or embarrassed regarding your circumstances. Sounds like you've done a rational thing in separating the two roles in your resume (LinkedIn should follow resume closely). I suggest you introduce yourself to a recruiter in your technical area, send them the resume, express your quandary in the same clear way you have here, they can probably suggest useful changes in addition to the good suggestion here. Mar 21, 2021 at 23:37
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    Thank you, Neubert. You indirectly helped me solve a very similar issue as well.
    – Strategist
    Sep 25, 2021 at 18:36

People do not simply look at your title and decide to hire you based on that. They ask questions during interviews to determine whether you actually have the specific skills and experience they are looking for. The title is at best a starting point for deciding what to ask about in the interview. They are not going to quiz you about the finer points of what a research engineer does, either, if you are applying to be a data analyst. They will ask things that are relevant to being a data analyst.

So rest assured that it is extremely unlikely that you will "accidentally" get a job that you're unqualified for. On the other hand, if your title poorly reflects your duties, you might have the opposite problem that people neglect to ask you about things you do know but which are not implied by your past title. The good news is that you're not merely listing just the titles themselves (right?) but providing a description below each experience that points out the relevant aspects of that position.

They might assume that since you had a fancy title you were being paid a lot more, and ask why you want to do a lesser job. You should have a good answer for that (for example, something similar to points you made in your question).

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