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?