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I am updating my resume after a long time at the same company, and I have an issue with the way the titles across my last few employers compare with each other. If I list the exact job titles at each company, in order; it looks like I haven't advanced in a long time.

An example:

  • Company A - 2018-2022: Senior Engineer
  • Company A - 2014-2018: Engineer
  • Company B - 2010-2014: Engineer
  • Company C - 2006-2010: Senior Engineer
  • Company C - 2004-2006: Engineer

The reality is, each company uses similar titles but for different levels. So the progressions from least to most experienced would go something like:

Company A:

  1. Junior Engineer
  2. Staff Engineer
  3. Engineer
  4. Senior Engineer
  5. Lead Engineer

Company B:

Startup where your title is your role, and there aren't any levels because there's 10 people total.

Company C:

  1. Engineer
  2. Senior Engineer
  3. Lead Engineer
  4. Staff Engineer

How should I list these out in an accurate manner that also conveys that I have advanced in the last decade? Can I normalize the titles to my most recent employer's? Will it seem like I am being deceptive if a potential employer verifies my employment with previous companies and the titles do not match exactly?

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2 Answers 2

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Do not change the titles, that will be seen as deception in any background check.

Just be clear about your responsibilities for each post in your resume, hiring managers deal with figuring out how applicants map to their level scheme every day.

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Company B:

Startup where your title is your role, and there aren't any levels because there's 10 people total.

Titles between companies are meaningless. You can be the CTO of a 5 person company (the others are president, CEO, CFO, and Chief Experience Officer), or the Senior Engineer of a project with 1000 engineers.

Can I normalize the titles to my most recent employer's?

Just use the title you had with these companies.

Will it seem like I am being deceptive if a potential employer verifies my employment with previous companies and the titles do not match exactly?

You never know if the old company will report the old titles or if they just say employee.

Every employee who leaves Apple becomes an ‘associate’

Inside Apple, your job classification can mean a lot. The difference between a “level 4” engineer and a “level 5,” for instance, could mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. And those titles help determine how much Apple employees can make when they leave the company for another job. But there’s a hitch.

In widely used databases that companies refer to for verification of job information, Apple changes the job title for every employee, whether they’re a PhD in computer science or a product manager, to “associate,” the company confirms.

Use the resume to show what you accomplished, and that your generally had a career that moved upwards. The titles are meaningless. They don't translate.

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