Titles don’t matter

Titles, both lofty and lowly, on a résumé really don’t make much of a difference.

Yes, more grandiose titles are a great ego boost (the same applies to the name of the organization attached to that title).

But your actual experience means much, much more than that. No use being a “fellow” if you’re only getting coffee. And “interns” do plenty more than that.

Case in point: I’m basically an assistant producer at PBS MediaShift‘s Mediatwits podcast, and I haven’t graduated from college yet. On a weekly basis, I:

  • Pitch ideas for the weekly rundown,
  • Write more promotions for Twitter, Facebook and Google+ than I care to count,
  • Facilitate conversation between panelists live during the podcast behind the scenes by pitching new angles and counterpoints,
  • Compile research (relevant stories, primary source material, etc.) on the topics for the audience and for the panel,
  • Moniter and curate audience engagement before and during the podcast,
  • Produce the podcast’s presence on the MediaShift website, Google+, YouTube and Soundcloud

For each one of these episodes, the only duties I don’t have are approving the final rundown, moderating conversation on air, and recruiting guests, all of which are Mark Glaser‘s domain, though the latter is in the realm of possibility as a future responsibility.

All of those bulleted obligations will be listed on my résumé, but they won’t be joined with the illustrious title of “assistant producer.” I’m a podcasting intern, and there’s no use in lying about that. (Not to mention, Mark would be pretty confused if he got a call from HR somewhere looking to hire me and suddenly found out he had an assistant producer. Blindsiding a former boss like that is not a great idea).

In some ways, that’s disappointing. Who doesn’t like a nifty new title on their résumé?

But future employers value the experience if the responsibilities are clearly laid out. Titles can be misleading, and employers know that. They hire people and skills, not titles, histories or biographies.

Using all the same tricks of writing a good résumé apply in making sure you, not your title, stand out. Using strong verbs and precisely laying out both responsibilities and results are crucial to conveying any applicant’s indispensability.

Show, don’t tell, your expertise, and an internship can be  the reason for your next promotion.