Does Job Title Accuracy Matter For Background Checks? {Little White Lies}

Background checks are used to verify past employment history including:

  •       Employment status
  •       Start date and end date
  •       Salary or pay rate
  •       Job title

Some job titles however are unique to a company or not easily communicated, leading some job applicants to use more recognizable and less ambiguous job titles when applying for a new role. 

But does the accuracy of job title really matter when going through the stages of an interview? And could it count against you if the precise role isn’t used – and discovered later during a background check?

Job title accuracy on your resume is not absolutely essential so long as the aim of making the alteration is not to mislead a potential employer. Recruiters and HR personnel conducting background checks understand that the job title on record will not always reflect the employee’s actual position – but it shouldn’t be so far removed that it conveys skills and experience that you simply don’t have.

Minor variations of a job title are unlikely to impact your chances of getting hired as businesses do not use a universal standard for job titles. For example, a “project coordinator” at one company may perform the same duties as a “project scheduler” at another.

Yet, employers do not hire candidates who provide false or misleading information. Background checks are a standard step of most job interviews, so stating that you worked and have experience as a project manager when your real job title was “software developer” will only reflect poorly upon you when background checks are completed. 

In this post, you will learn more about what HR personnel and employers pay attention to during a background check and whether job title accuracy is important.

When recruiting, why do job titles matter?

Job titles help people understand an employee’s position within a company and often denote the employee’s responsibilities and level of seniority.

Lower-level positions may include job titles with one of the following words:

  •       Representative
  •       Specialist
  •       Assistant
  •       Junior

Whilst positions with higher levels of responsibility may include the terms:

  •       Supervisor
  •       Manager
  •       Director
  •       Executive
  •       Lead
  •       Senior

A job title may also explain what the person does, such as housekeeper, programmer, developer, or mechanic and help companies maintain a specific organizational structure. Titles may show progression within a company, making it easier for potential employers to understand your place within an organization compared to colleagues.

Hiring managers and recruiters may also look at the job titles on a resume to pre-screen applicants and better understand the work experience of a job candidate. 

Job titles help decision-makers assess whether they should keep a resume for further consideration. If the inferred experience does not meet the minimum requirements for the position, hiring managers are likely to skip past the resume.

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Do your past job titles need to be accurate on your resume?

Job titles vary from company to company, even within the same industry and don’t always accurately reflect the employee’s role.

A minor discrepancy between the job title on a resume and the title received by HR during a background check is unlikely to reduce a good candidate’s chances of getting hired.

HR may overlook the inaccuracy of the job title due to one of the following reasons:

  •        The exact match job title would have failed to describe your duties and responsibilities
  •       The previous employer used a creative or unusual job title
  •       The previous employer failed to update a candidate’s job title

A background check may also uncover a different job title if the employer failed to update the employee’s records. For example, an individual who worked as an assistant manager before becoming a project manager may remain listed as an “assistant manager.”

When an employer discovers a discrepancy on the resume such as this, they often give the candidate a chance to explain the issue. An outdated job title on an employment record is often an easy problem to remedy.

What can employers find out during a background check?

Employers use background checks to verify your identity and employment history, yet they can also use resources to check your criminal history, driving record, professional certifications and education history.

Employment history verifications typically involve confirming that the applicant was, or is, employed by the employer listed on the resume. The verification process also checks employment start – end dates and job titles.

Many states prohibit employers from asking about a job candidate’s pay history, however in some states, employers can still verify the salary of an employee (typically they need to make a formal job offer before gaining the right to verify the employee’s past salary).

Closing notes

Job title accuracy is not an essential consideration when applying for a new position. Titles vary from one company to the next, with the main concern of the potential employer being the roles and responsibility associated with the role. 

For example, claiming that you worked as a manager when your employment record lists you as a secretary is just plain misleading, and likely to come back to bite you at some point in the future. 

Yet, you may choose to use a variation of your job title to better reflect your past duties. This is common when your company uses non-standard job titles, such as “sales administrator” instead of the more universally known “sales manager.”

Instead of worrying about the accuracy of the job title, double-check the accuracy of the rest of the resume. Employment dates, accreditations, and other details must be accurate.

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