Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

Yelling at My Computer Screen

More often than not lately, I read blog entries that get me all riled up in one way or another. Either it's such a brilliant idea that I have to share, or it's something that makes me want to smack my head, grab the wheel and say: "Let me drive" (as Ross Brown talks about here). But very rarely do I read a single post that makes me want to do both.

But Dan at FRACAT managed to make that happen recently. His post is about the idea of "job title norming" - specifically, dumbing down or raising the title of your job on your resume to fit the audience. From the post:

"And it is this title that most people put on their resumes. The problem is different companies call the same job different things. So, how is company X, that calls your position “executive in charge of janitorial services”, going to know that your current company calls the same position “VP of HR”?

The answer, of course, is that they don’t.


[T]he answer [to this problem is] “norming” your job title on your resume. That is, dig into what other companies are calling what you do and use that title on your resume. It is much more descriptive to the reader and you’ll get more shots at the jobs."

The first part, I was in total agreement with - having seen a lot of small companies and very large ones, the title disparity is huge. I've seen VP titles with only 3 direct reports and managers with hundreds. And, if your goal is to switch enterprise types from small to large it makes sense. More on that later.

However, the part that had me yelling at the screen is that Dan didn't ask the fundamental question: why are you trying to get a job that doesn't respect your experience? Beyond that, if you're applying through the front-line HR resume-screening drone, you're no-doubt going about your job search in the most inefficient way possible - there are other, far more effective ways of getting in the door.

This advice seemed best tailored to the "shotgun approach" for job hunting - throwing your resume at everyone who posts a job on Monster or Craigslist and seeing what sticks. But if you're taking your time and approaching a few jobs (and switching enterprise sizes because it fits best with your career plan, your direction and your calling), you can be not only more direct with tailoring your resume toward each company (which may or may not require "norming" the titles), you can take a more reasoned and measured approach to actually making contact with the company that bypasses the HR Screening Drone altogether.

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray