What do you do if your work description does not correspond to your responsibilities?

Recently, a client of mine asked for my assistance in writing her resume. She works for a small company as an office manager. She takes on all of the duties of an Office Manager in her role. She also works with the company owner to set policies, collaborates with freelancers on marketing materials, acts as a liaison between vendors and shipping service providers, and makes sales calls from leads gathered at trade shows. In other words, her work title does not cover all of her duties. Several prospective employers were concerned about the disparity between her title and her overall role in the business, and wondered if she had overstated her duties on her resume.

Many workers find themselves in circumstances where their current job title is so company-specific that it has no significance outside of the organization, or means that they are a rank or more below their actual work responsibilities. In these cases, the challenge we face is properly accounting for our professional experience on our resume in order to advance our careers. There is no easy way to deal with this because you want to be honest on your resume; after all, you don’t want your future employer to call for a reference check and get the idea you lied about your job background, do you?

Professionals disagree about whether you should mention work titles or job functions on your resume. Some people tend to list their title first, then a list of duties, while others strongly prefer to rename their title to include their job role (s). The best choice is to find a comfortable medium and list your work title, as well as a few terms that define your job role, before listing your job responsibilities.

Let’s start by changing the work titles on your resume. If your title is unique or rather relevant to your business, you should try to find an equivalent title that is well-known and understood in your industry. If you work as a customer support representative for a particular product and your role includes the product name, for example, you can simply mention Product Support Representative on your resume. However, avoid overstating your word. Do not change your title in such a way that it implies a change of authority or pay level; do not change the sector of the company where you work; and do not change your title in such a way that it implies you are reporting directly to someone in a role higher than your boss. Any such revisions to your resume are deceptive and will damage your reputation with prospective employers.

Choose the middle ground option if your title suggests less obligation than you actually hold. On your resume, provide your exact job title. If you’re a Product Support Representative who’s also in charge of training new hires for your team, list your title as Product Support Representative/Customer Support and New Hire Training. What you’re doing here is expanding on your work title and including a short overview of your job responsibilities. After this title, make sure your resume contains power statements that describe your actual job duties in order of priority and relation to your career title. This approach is preferred because you are being frank about your title but also suggesting to your boss that your duties vary somewhat from what the title implies. You won’t have to worry about misrepresenting your title or raising doubts about your credibility during background checks and reference calls. Your resume must first and foremost be truthful. When it comes to your work titles and functions, do your utmost to stay objective and concentrate on the positives, and you’ll have a winning resume in no time.

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