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I have been running a limited company through which I offer IT consulting service for over two years now. I am the only employee (and only shareholder) of said company. My day-to-day job is probably 95% doing consulting work and maybe 5% managing the company (taking care of sales, contracts, paying bills, accounting, ...).

Now I am wondering what I should put on my CV.
Right now, I have written:

January 2020 to present - Senior IT Consultant & CEO at MyAwesomeCompanyName
Doing consulting stuff and solving many issues every day

However, I am thinking if this is really appropriate:

On one hand, the "CEO" part is technically true (as I am 100% in charge of my company). On the other hand, I don't want to pretend to be something which I am not: I do not deal with other employees and have few responsibilities that come to mind when someone hears the title "CEO".

Also, I don't want to omit that I am in fact the owner and fully in charge of said company (which is also its own legal entity - so I don't want to write "freelancer" or something because that might misrepresent the actual legal structure of the business).

What would be a good way to state this without coming of as bragging, but also not as downplaying or "hiding" the fact that I am not just a regular employee?

EDIT:
There seems to be some confusion because some people assume that I am in the US and have started a sole proprietorship / US LLC. This is not the case - I have in fact started a "real" company which is incorporated. On legal terms, I am the sole shareholder and sole member of the board of directors of said company.

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    Senior IT Consultant & Owner
    – citronas
    Mar 7, 2023 at 14:52
  • "Midshipmite and Bosun tite and crew of the Captain's gig.". I was once generously credited on a playbill as "Master Electrician and lighting crew chief" because I was the entire lighting crew and sole electrician...
    – keshlam
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:03
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    Company Director in the UK. Perfectly fine because any company must have one (or several).
    – gnasher729
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:11
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    Owner/Founder is the common nomenclature for a CV. Mar 7, 2023 at 15:18
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    I get the impression that everyone in the US is a CEO, but in the UK it sounds very pompous even for the managing director of a small firm, let alone a one-man band. I also doubt anyone looking at the CV is concerned with the nitty-gritty of the legal entity - if you're a freelancer in the style of a long-term temp, and if your reputation doesn't precede you, then they'll be more interested in who you've worked for recently, than anything about your "company".
    – Steve
    Mar 7, 2023 at 17:10

6 Answers 6

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I'd go with:

January 2020 to present - Senior IT Consultant & Owner at MyAwesomeCompanyName Doing consulting stuff and solving many issues every day

While CEO is technically true it ends up sounding very much as though you're trying to make it sound extra impressive.

You aren't really doing a job that really resembles what the CEO of moderate sized company does - the business side of running a one-person consulting firm is much closer in real terms to someone running a small business than a full fledged company. Really, there's nothing to be gained by using that specific term - you aren't applying for CEO roles so the people looking at your CV (potential clients) aren't looking for whether you are "a CEO" or not, and for that matter everyone who operates a one-man-band consulting company is "a CEO" too so it doesn't differentiate you.

Conversely, the fact that you are the owner could have some small bearing for your clients - it means you've got a personal stake in the success of the business in a way that an employee working for someone else doesn't.

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    While I don't know OP's legislation, in my legislation someone in a position as described would be legally required to use the appropriate term (usually translated as managing director) which is the same regardless of whether the business consists of OP only or has 500 employees. Fun fact: 70 % of the companies limited by shares (public/private wasn't distinguished in the statistics I found) here in Germany have less than 10 employees. Less than 1.5 % have 250 or more. It thus shouldn't be that much of a surprise if someone is managing director of a small GmbH. Mar 11, 2023 at 0:20
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Proprietor is usual.

Don't say CEO. Similar would be Principal (often used in consulting).

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    I like Principal, and will steal that. It emphasizes that you are the professional lead, not only the business lead.
    – keshlam
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:06
  • The right title would be "Proprietor & Principal Consultant".
    – Therac
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:12
  • Won't "proprietor" (as in sole proprietorship) suggest unlimited liability opposed to a director / owner / CEO / ...?
    – Matthias
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:20
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It's a bit Gauche in my opinion.

Not that I haven't seen it done. I generally find it pretentious and grandiose when it's done by a single person business. Being a CEO implies there is a C-Suite at your company (okay you could argue that you are also the CFO, CIO, CTO etc.) and with a solo operation, there isn't.

Although there has been the odd small Kiwi business where the owner has had a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke by giving themselves all the 'impressive' titles possible.

IIRC - there is also some technicalities of Law for CEOs for corporations and non-profits - something to do with Corporations being considered people for the purposes of Law and the CEO is the 'Avatar' for the 'person' that is the company.

When it comes to one-man operations - "Owner", "Founder", "Proprietor" are generally more accurate options.

Depending on the field though, there's room for additional titles - My Dad, when he ran his own business, always preferred the title of 'Chief Engineer' - as it was an Engineering company (obviously) - So he would address official communiques as 'Chief Engineer and Founder' - he thought himself as an engineer first and foremost.

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  • While I don't know OP's legislation, in my legislation someone in a position as described would be legally required to use the appropriate term (usually translated as managing director) almost everywhere [except in their CV - but then I wouldn't use a different term in my CV]. That term is the same regardless of whether the business consists of OP only or has 500 employees. Mar 11, 2023 at 0:10
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"Principal" is appropriate, whereas "proprietor" is not because you are not running a proprietorship.

It is good that you gave pause to ask about this, because in my humble opinion having lofty titles actually takes away from your presentation unless there is a living, breathing staff that is operating under your direction.

In the United States, limited liability companies don't have officer titles in the same way that corporations do. So advertising yourself as a CEO can be telling, in a not so positive light, to someone who knows better.

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I'm in a similar position as Geschäftsführer of my own GmbH (in ).

In English, I translate my position as managing director (sometimes only director, this is AFAIK more BE than AE, but it is also the translation other German GmbHs use in English):

director of Chemometrix GmbH, Wölfersheim/Germany

If in some context I'd need to be super sure of correct terminology, I'd give the native term since that is the legally relevant name of the position (e.g. listed in the Commercial Register) and the English translation only as an add-on, e.g.

Geschäftsführerin [managing director] Chemometrix GmbH, Wölfersheim/Germany

  • I may say that I have the full legal responsibilities of a Geschäftsführer. A German GmbH is a private limited by shares, and in terms of accounting and taxes, a one person GmbH is actually more similar to larger GmbHs than to e.g. freelancing [Freiberufler] which is a legal setup I also know from experience.

  • German legislation requires that all official communication of the company must name who holds this position - this gives less wiggle room for free translations...
    While the CV doesn't have such legal requirements, I'd use the same term there (plus possibly founder and owner if relevant)

  • Regarding CEO: this doesn't translate very well to the legal setup of German limited-by-shares. The German Wikipedia page on CEO says that the translation is occasionally used for German companies, but doesn't align well with the legal setup of German limited-by-shares, neither AGs (public) nor GmbHs (private).


Here's how I found this translation:

  • using a dictionary with online forum that has its "home" in Germany. This is where people who know the exact German setup that applies and the ways of English-speaking countries as well.
  • Fortunately, German GmbHs are sufficiently important to have an English Wikipedia page that also gives translations of these terms.
  • You may find English translations of technical terms in (micro)-economics textbooks for your legislation.
  • Look around how other companies with the same legal form translate the position.
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  • +1 for mentioning potential legal requirements. That was also my intention when saying that I would not want to "hide" the fact that I have control over the company. Different countries seem to have different laws in that regard about how "anonymously" one can own and manage a company.
    – Matthias
    Mar 13, 2023 at 7:17
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I am the only employee (and only shareholder)

There are no shareholders in a company which is not incorporated (AFAIK). That is definitely a bad option.

Additionally, from the Wikipedia page:

The responsibilities of an organization's CEO are set by the organization's board of directors or other authority

You do not have a board of directors, or other authority

As an executive officer of the company, the CEO reports the status of the business to the board of directors

Those directors again...

With these statements in mind, to a serious business partner, you might sound like a clown. And that is surely something to avoid. Personally, I would hesitate to do business to a person who considers themselves a corporation.

If you want to be taken seriously, stay away from any words that might draw the attention in an unwanted way.


However, it is perfectly fine (and already applied) to just state the truth in simple words. You do not have a corporation, you are only one person. So suitable "titles" would be:

  • self-employed
  • owner
  • founder
  • specialist in this field and that field
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  • Legally speaking, I am the sole shareholder and sole member of the board of directors of an incorporated limited company. Maybe that sounds "clownish", but that's how corporations work at the place I incorporated.
    – Matthias
    Mar 10, 2023 at 10:44
  • @Matthias: yes, it only "sounds" clownish... And please, on which stock exchange can I monitor the activity of your company, and the values of your shares? I might even decide to buy some of the shares, if they prove valuable ;)
    – virolino
    Mar 10, 2023 at 10:59
  • A company limited by shares does not have to be publicly listed. Publicly listing a company (e.g. by doing an IPO), is totally optional when starting a company in most countries.
    – Matthias
    Mar 10, 2023 at 12:54
  • @Matthias: So you have better knowledge, go ahead and present yourself as the "Board of Directors". Good luck.
    – virolino
    Mar 10, 2023 at 14:03
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    While I don't know the legislation where OP has their company, the question would be perfectly sensible if asked from a German GmbH perspective (and OP's additional explanation in the comments would also perfectly fit that legal setup). And at least for that, this answer is quite wrong in asserting that there are no shares/shareholder nor directors. Except maybe that OP is director rather than CEO. Self-employed is a term that also doesn't translate well between German and AE, owner, founder and specialist are things nice to be, but would not cover the legal relevance of the position. Mar 10, 2023 at 23:36

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