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I'm a software engineer with 10 years of experience and a great resume. During the last few years my job title has been some variations of Senior Software Engineer. I've been looking for a new job recently, and got an offer from a company that I really like. My new title, according to the offer, will be "Developer II". I feel like it doesn't represent my experience, and would look bad on my resume and LinkedIn profile. Should I ask them to change it? Is it a common practice when negotiating a job offer?

marked as duplicate by CMW, Monica Cellio, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Telastyn, Jim G. Mar 22 '14 at 0:03

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  • How much clout do you think you have to tell the company how they should classify developers? – JB King Mar 21 '14 at 4:52
  • @JBKing my understanding is that some (esp. large) companies have a rigid list of job titles and levels, and some don't. The company in question is not very large, and they may not care about job titles so much. – Macondo2Seattle Mar 21 '14 at 4:55
  • @panoptical thanks for the link, there's an interesting discussion there. I'm leaving my question open though, because my situation is slightly different: this is not an entry level position. – Macondo2Seattle Mar 21 '14 at 4:56
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    I have a job title that only makes sense with an understanding of my companies domain knowledge. My CV says "Software Developer". – Nathan Cooper Mar 21 '14 at 12:15
  • pure cosmetics. it's a lot more important what skills and projects you have to list. i would stop obsessing about meaningless labels that project some illusory and superficial status within an organization and focus on real substance (previous sentence) – amphibient Mar 21 '14 at 16:03
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Should I ask them to change it? Is it a common practice when negotiating a job offer?

Titles are clearly important to you, so it makes sense to bring it up - just as it makes sense to discuss and clarify any other important aspects of your new job before you accept.

But before you ask the prospective employer to change it, make sure you understand how you intend to react if they don't agree to the change.

If it's terribly important, than express it as a deal-breaker, and be prepared to move on. If you can live with the existing title then ask for the change, but be prepared to accept the existing title.

I've found over the years that overall, titles tend to seem more important to the individual holding them than to prospective employers. A hard-earned "Programmer II" title may be very meaningful to the person who worked their way up from "Programmer I", but conveys little information to the hiring manager in a company which uses a different title structure. Similarly, "Senior Software Engineer" at some companies means that you've been there a while, yet at other companies, it means a distinctly different set of skills and responsibilities than "Software Engineer".

Most (but admittedly not all) hiring managers and recruiters understand this. While there is the inevitable unconscious appeal to hiring someone with current title that exactly matches the title of the position you are trying to fill, most hiring managers can overcome this. Most will look at your resume to see if the tasks and responsibilities you list match the role they are filling - even when the title doesn't match.

Also remember that titles are subject to change, and not under your control. When my small company was acquired by a very large company, everyone's title was changed from "xxx Engineer" to "xxx Analyst" - yet their roles and responsibilities remained the same as before. Oh well.

I know some folks who choose to put a different title on their resume than the one they actually held within a company. In their case, they chose a title that they felt wasn't misleading, but gave the more correct impression of what they actually did (for example, no Developers put down a title of Senior Vice President, or anything like that). It's a bit of a risky move, since if the interviewer determines that the title's don't match, you've got some explaining to do. I don't think it affected them negatively in these case, but I don't actually know for sure.

So ask if they can change the title for you. But be prepared and ready for your next step in case they decide not to do so. You can only know their reaction by asking.

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    "I've found over the years that overall, titles tend to seem more important to the individual holding them than to prospective employers." -- yes! – amphibient Mar 21 '14 at 16:05
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Personally, I don't really care about what the job title says. If I were an employer, I'd look into what you did and whether what you did fits in with my needs. Different companies have different ranking systems, so Developer II at say Google might be easily be translated as Developer III elsewhere. Again, it's what you do that matters not what your job title is. Don't leave out the possibility that they might promote you to Developer III once you have a track record and reputation points with them and they figure out that they can squeeze more life and performance out of you by promoting you to Developer III :) If not, some other employer will :)

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When I'm adding work experience to my resume, quite frankly the title is right about the least important part of it. I've had at least one gig where I didn't even have a formal job title. I gasp made up my own.

I don't know if I'd quite go so far as to replace the title "Developer II" with ".NET Wizard" only because nowadays pretty much the only thing you can ask a former employer nowadays is "did person X work at your company in position Y between dates Z and A?", and a literal-minded or peevish former employer could truthfully say "no" to that. However, that title is one line out of many on your resume and should easily be drowned out by lots and lots of bullet points talking about specific things you did.

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