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Career Progression on Resume - How much to embellish?

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Data Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

I'm an engineer with about 4.5 years of experience. I've had 2 jobs since graduating university. The first was a small startup (<10 people) where I did backend engineering and worked like a dog. The second (and current) is a large (~1500 people) company that's far more chill.

I've heard, read, and generally understand that recruiters (and probably hiring managers as well) like to see career progression when reviewing resumes. Makes sense.

My questions are:

  1. rather than calling myself "Backend Engineer" for my first job on my resume, should I say I was a "Junior Backend Engineer"?

  2. for my current job, rather than calling myself a "Data Engineer", can I call myself "Senior Data Engineer"? My company isn't technically advanced to the point where they formally use the title "Senior" engineer for anyone (although engineers definitely are paid differently based on tenure, impact, negotiation skills). Hence I feel like I have that lee-way. Heck, it might even be better to arbitrarily take the 3 year block at the company and pick a point around the 2-year mark where I say I became "Senior", so I can have Junior -> Intermediate -> Senior on my resume.

There's irony in down-leveling myself for my first job, although I really was junior and titles are fungible. As for up-levelling myself in my current role, isn't the point of a resume just to get an interview? And are people really going to check with my employer and say "aha, caught you! you said you were a Senior Engineer, but really you were an Engineer!" and even if people do, I would imagine it's a small number, that's offset by the upside of demonstrating that progression, even if it is a little messaged'

Finally, to address a question that will probably be asked, I definitely feel like I have learned a good deal since I started 4.5 years ago, technically, but more importantly knowing what to work on. Prioritization, time management, etc.




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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    4.5 years is the time range where engineers can start calling themselves senior, so I think you could do it. My recommendation is to make your LinkedIn match as well, because if it doesn't, you might get some weird reactions and suspicion.

    While I think adding senior will probably help, I don't think including that progression of junior -> mid -> senior on your resume will. This is largely because recruiters rarely read past the first blurb, so they literally won't even see it. I talk about this more in my job searching course here: https://www.jointaro.com/course/ace-your-tech-interview-and-get-a-job-as-a-software-engineer/polish-your-resume/

    When it comes to resumes, my general strategy is to keep things simple:

    • I don't like having "Junior X", preferring to just put "X" instead
    • I don't segment my work experience at companies based on what level I was at each time. I just have my most recent level reflect the entire blurb

    Another problem with doing the segmenting is that you are giving more information to the recruiter/hiring manager, which can only hurt you. For example, if you have this progression and it shows you were only "promoted" to senior 3 months ago, they can take this to mean that you're not a stable senior yet and try down-leveling you back to mid-level. But if you just have senior, then they don't know and might just assume you've been senior for a while.

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      Data Engineer [OP]
      Taro Community
      2 months ago

      Amazing, thanks Alex!