Why your job title could hinder your job search

Why your job title could hinder your job search

Have you heard of “The hidden job market” and wonder how you can be a part of it? Here are some hints and tips about your Linkedin profile that may be stopping you from accessing it, because I would be lying if I said one didn’t exist. Through this post you will see that how you write your experience in your resume and online allows you to be found for certain jobs or careers.

As a recruiter (mainly focused on candidates or job seekers) I do not advertise every role that comes in. If I did, I would have a huge number of adverts running and it would be unmanageable. Also sifting through the large volumes of resumes that come in is also very time consuming. Let me give you a real life example… If I put an advert up with the generic title of Project Manager, I could have at least 250 resumes overnight. Honestly. Now, if I spent 1 minute skimming each of these resumes (which usually I would take at least 2 or 3) that’s 250 minutes, or 4 whole hours just reading… Spending 2 minutes per CV would mean my whole day gone, minus any interruptions.

Job boards such as Seek insist recruiters put generic titles on their adverts to attract a greater audience, and so that it gets sent to job seekers when the titles match words in the CV. This is why now, platforms such as LinkedIn and Seek,
allow recruiters to go and look for potential candidates by searching through their experience or resume. What does this mean? In a down turned market it is critical to have your experience and social media profile (more specifically LinkedIn) done correctly to potentially secure your next role. You have to stand out from your competition and have the relevant information in your profile / resume.

Let me go into a bit more detail:

Look at these two jobs…


Did you notice anything? The job titles are very similar, however the technologies that are used and what is expected are totally different. What does this mean?

Your job title is not necessarily the thing searched for, your day to day activities are.


I did a quick search on Linkedin to see how many “candidates” would be applicable with the job title “Business Systems Manager” and got the following result.

I interview a number of people a week, and a lot of the time they say “I did this, I did that”, but what eventuates is that their actual role was different from their job title.

Recently, I interviewed a “Project Manager” who spoke about doing documentation, managing staff, engaging stakeholders, vendor selection, holding workshops, finding out business processes etc. I turned around and told him he was actually doing the role of a Business Analyst. He was shocked when I said he needed to change his title. However, this is what you should consider when writing your experience under your job title of the role that you are / were in.

Write your day to day activities.

Put that you take meeting minutes, deal with stakeholders, manage budgets, use Microsoft Word / Office, schedule meetings, run workshops, can troubleshoot Windows or Linux, manage social media etc., because these are the things that would appear on the job description a recruiter gets. Look at the examples in the picture previously and think what the key points would be – for example Linux, MySQL, support compared to SharePoint, Dynamics, Applications.

If you struggle knowing what to write, look at jobs that are applicable to you on Seek or LinkedIn (or whatever job board you use) and look at what they are asking for. Do they mention certain programs, day to day activities or skills that are required, or what you should be good at doing (the typical one of great team work and communication)? If so, make sure those areas appear in your experience, if applicable. But if you’ve done more, put that in also! A lot of the time when I’m recruiting I look for people that would be able to step up… Why? People love a promotion or challenge.

An example here is myself… I was actually headhunted on LinkedIn for the role I am doing now… Why? My profile contained words such as Business Development, Sales, IT, Startup business, Technology, customer service, dealing with people. All these were spread between different roles however they are all traits that apply to a recruiter. I had never done recruitment before but because someone read between the lines of my profile and basically mashed it all together – I became a recruitment consultant. Again enforcing the point that your job title is not always a true reflection of what you do or want to do.


Reading achievements from your time in a position is great. As a recruiter, I can read them and go wow that’s impressive how did they do that? … Or if I have a job description think wow that’s what this company needs. Using the achievements in your role enforces your personal brand, and what does a brand do? Sells – so are you selling yourselfwith your achievements? Typically the best ones start with: “I saved a company X millions of dollars”, “I brought in sales of X amount”, or “I worked on a project with the value of X.” As a recruiter I can use your achievements to sell you even more so, because they are things that can be repeated to the hiring manager. Everyone has achieved something in their working career, and if you’re struggling maybe ask your peers what they remember you for (let’s just hope it’s not getting drunk at the Christmas party).

Recommendations on LinkedIn are incredibly powerful. Why? Simply put they are an easy reference check. Somebody else has spent the time to write something good about you. Hopefully this was the role where you really excelled and assisted that individual or business which is why they wrote something nice about you. The power of a recommendation now in a candidate-heavy market is huge, because it’s social validation that you are good at what you do. If I had a dollar for every time I read “great communicator” or “great at working in teams” along with all the other common expressions, I would be a very very wealthy man. Remove these from your CV and profile because they’re what you think about yourself. However, if someone else writes that about you on LinkedIn, it’s instantly a valid opinion because it’s what someone else has said.

I strongly recommend if you are job searching at the minute get in touch with old colleagues and ask them if they would write one for you.

Other social media platforms?

There are some people that are supposed ‘Experts’ of the recruitment industry that say “oh you need to be on Twitter or Facebook”… I’m sorry but in my eyes, these people are idiots. Twitter is where you go and follow what Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber are doing, or alternatively stay up to date with news (one market I don’t think that has used it well), and Facebook is for your holiday photos or where you get your friends posting funny cat videos constantly when they are bored at work. LinkedIn is the only real platform that has the ability to reflect your resume. So, make it do exactly that, because as I said before it means that as a recruiter, I can come to you and instead of you having to come to me.

To conclude

If you are on the market for a new position or at that stage where you are thinking about making a move, start doing some preparation work and make sure your LinkedIn experience is up to date, and contains what you have actually been doing in the role with less focus on the job title.

A little cheat tip too – if you know your job title is largely different in other organisations, under the job title put “This role is also known as …” in the first sentence. An example of this would be software engineer, developer, programmer. Again just reiterating the point that your title may be different elsewhere.

I previously wrote how Linkedin can can help you with your job search by having a fuller profile, and you can read about that here: How your Linkedin profile can be like a fantastic burger

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