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I am aware that there are several questions about job titles on resumes already, but I believe my question has a somewhat different spin, so hear me out before you click the duplicate button :-)

My current title is Senior Software Engineer or Senior Consultant, depending on which of the company's database systems you look in. The two titles are used interchangeably (in a nutshell, the "Senior" matters, the rest doesn't). I've been in Senior Software Engineer positions several times before, but at my previous company, my "functional" title was Software Engineering Technical Lead and my "rank" title was Senior Member of Technical Staff, the latter ranking a lot higher than Senior Software Engineer (in fact, even above Principal Engineer, according to my previous company's ranking scheme).

I love my job and my current company, but unfortunately I need to move back to my home city for family reasons, so I will soon be on the job market again. Just looking at the titles, my current job looks like a demotion and somewhat of a step backwards (to me, at least). In reality, it was a huge step forward in all respects, including salary. I now work on extremely challenging tasks with a team of brilliant people who all operate at a very high skill level, and I am learning a lot.

I also feel that I have somewhat "maxed out" my engineering career and need to focus more on being a leader rather than just an individual contributor, so for my next career move I am looking for a leadership position that still allows me to do some hands-on work (very much like the job before my current one).

Now, my question(s): would it look bad if I put Senior Software Engineer as my title for my current position? Would I likely have to explain why I dealt myself a demotion? Would it be better to use Senior Consultant, because it is at least different from my previous titles and would (maybe?) not look so much like a downward move?

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    If "Senior Software Engineer" is one of your valid titles, you can safely use it. Really, choose the one that is closest to what you are applying for. They are looking at what you do, not what you are called :) – Jane S May 28 '15 at 5:01
  • Do you believe the title 'Senior Software Engineer' has less value than the title 'Senior Consultant'? For demonstrating leadership you need to demonstrate the ability to lead. Tacking on "senior" doesn't in itself say what types of leadership you needed to take in your role. – Brandin May 28 '15 at 10:24
  • "Senior Software Engineer" or "Senior Consultant" and how it compares to previous job titles matters less than what you say about each role. If your current job was a step forward in all respects, that's what I think you need to make clear in a concise manner on the resume, and then explain the details at interview. – Hazel May 28 '15 at 11:57
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    There are many job title questions out there, but I think this one answers your question best. Basically, your title should stay the same, but your job description is what really counts. – David K May 28 '15 at 12:48
  • @Moomin I really do not see how your question is different than the linked question. What is the difference to you other than the specifics. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 28 '15 at 20:40
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"Senior Consultant" is vague in terms of engendering expectations about what your job entailed. "Senior Software Engineer" is clearer but suggests a hands on role.

I think it depends which parts of your recent experience you wish to play up. It is completely valid to present this current job as evidence your technical skills are still at a high level, while indicating you wish to move back into a leadership role. This approach fits the "Senior Software Engineer" title better. If you can find achievements from your current job that suit a continued leadership narrative, you could present them under "Senior Consultant" - it's a neutral title that will cause people to focus on the subsequent description.

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