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Submitted by efredlund on


Hello All,

Last year my company had a round of lay-offs and my group was restructured.  I was informed that my position had been eliminated, and that I would be laid off unless I secured another position.  A position was posted that was identical to my prior position with the following exceptions: 

A) In my prior position I reported to a director.  The new position reported to a newly created senior manager position, who in turn reported to the director.  

B) The new position was one pay grade lower than my prior position.

I interviewed for the position, was made an offer, and accepted.

My question is: Should I include this demotion on resumes that I send to external companies?

Here are some more details:

- My title changed from Manager III Financial Analysis to Manager II Financial Analysis

- My pay did not change

- My direct reports did not change

- Although my responsibilities have not changed, the group dynamic has changed since I am now one level removed from the director.  I get fewer of the tough ad-hoc issues that come up, since my new supervisor gives some of these to other members of the team.

mattpalmer's picture

When it comes to job *titles* (as distinct from responsibilities and accomplishments), it's all about matching up what HR will say to a prospective employer / background checker.  If a background checker calls up and says "I'd like to verify that $PERSON worked for you from <month>/<year> to <month>/<year> as a Manager III Financial Analysis", if HR says "those dates are correct, but the title was Manager II Financial Analysis", then that'll likely put up a red flag in the background check.  (Corporate background checkers are pretty stupid and literal-minded; I once had a red flag on a background check because *they* called the wrong company -- different, but similar, name -- and because the company they rang disavowed all knowledge of me, I got dinged.  Somehow that was my fault...)

Perhaps you can somehow get to keep your old title, to limit confusion and the appearances of a demotion (when, as far as I can tell, it isn't a demotion, just a restructure).  Alternately, since the responsibilities and accomplishments probably haven't materially changed, you could list both job descriptions under the one entry, like "Manager II/III Financial Analysis".

efredlund's picture
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Thanks, you bring up some good points.

After further consideration I'm now leaning toward breaking out my demotion as a separate role (option I below).  I think it's probably better to be completely transparent on the issue (even if it wastes a couple line of space on my resume), than to risk a fact check red flag later on.  I'm still interested in any other insight on this issue that folks on the forum might have.

Here are my three options as I see them:


1) Break out the demotion as a separate role (with the same responsibilities)

Upside: There is no chance I'll run afoul with HR fact checkers

Downside: I'll waste space on my resume repeating my roles and responsibilities.  I'm not worried about having to explain what happened, as I believe most recruiters and hiring managers will understand taking a demotion over being laid off.


2) Don't break out the demotion, use the generic title "Manager Financial Analysis"

Upside: I won't waste space on my resume repeating my roles and responsibilities

Downside: If a fact checker calls my current employer's HR there's a chance they'll see that "Manager II Financial Analysis" does not match "Manager Financial Analysis" and say they can't confirm.  Perhaps more importantly, if a recruiter is familiar with my current employer's title structure, it may raise a red flag since "Manager Financial Analysis" doesn't exist.  We only have Manager I Financial Analysis, Manager II Financial Analysis, and Manager III FInancial Analysis roles.  At first I thought "What are the chances of that happening?", but I'm surprised daily at how small a world we live in.

3) Don't break out the demotion, use the title "Manager II/III Financial Analysis"

Upside:  A fact check is less likely to raise a red flag.  A recruiter familiar with my current's employer's title structure won't be confused.

Downside: Any recruiter seeing this will likely think I'm either sloppy with the formatting of my resume or I'm trying to hide something.  If I was promoted from a II to a III the recruiter would expect me to break it out separately, therefore they will think I'm trying to hide something.  I'd be better off explaining the demotion in an interview than having my resume rejected out of hand for looking suspicious.



mike_bruns_99's picture
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Your roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments didn't significantly change.  Companies differ in the title names, some are ascending, some or descending.  In some companies, it goes Manager III, Manager II, Manager I.  Others are 1,2,3  I'll be the first to admit that HR can be literal.  But the chance of them not confirming that you are a Manager Financial Analysis is remote. 

To an outside company or person, your accomplishments are far more important than the actual title.


I would be very careful about the word "Demotion".  To me, it has a very negative connotation and implies that you did something wrong or didn't perform at an acceptable level.  It implies the "Peter Principle".   Based on what you described, that's not the case.  

As part of a restructuring, your position was eliminated.  You found a position with similar, but slightly reduced responsibilities compared to your previous one. That's not a demotion.   

altadel's picture
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In fact, in a restructuring you were considered "a keeper". I suggest the II/III variant.


Scott Delinger

DiSC: 5137

efredlund's picture
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Thanks for response Mike!

I've struggled with the semantics of what to call this, and I agree that "demotion" is a loaded word.  The only thing about my job that changed was the level of my supervisor.  I work in a matrix organization, and my "dotted line" boss (internal customer) only knew that something changed when I had to explain why I was copying my new supervisor on some of my e-mail traffic.

On the one hand, putting it in my resume as a separate role and talking about could help explain why I'm looking for a new role.  It could also show that I'm a team player.  On the other hand showing it as two positions could cause confusion and highlight something immaterial.

I'm a High C, so I have a natural tendency to show too much detail and draw too much attention to minor issues.

I would be interested in getting insight from any of the forum readers who have had experience as recruiters on how they would want an applicant to portray this situation on a resume.



jrb3's picture
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 If your responsibilities did not change, your team did not change, and your pay did not change, you just had your job relabeled.  Titles vary so much between and within companies that I think you can safely cite "Manager (II/III Financial Analysis)" and let any concerned parties sort it out in interview.  If your resume shows what you did and how well you did it, the title can't say anything else useful.

How variable can titles get?  I looked into three functionally identical jobs recently:  same responsibilities, same type and (similar) number of directs, same location in structure, same salary range and expected experience.  The titles were "Software Team Lead", "Technical Coach", and "CTO".  Each of those three bring to my mind very distinct sets of concerns and required skills;  the first seemed to me most accurate.

mike_bruns_99's picture
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I'll let others address your resume question, but there's one point I'd like to make:

Your situation is NOT a career crisis. As Scott said above, your company considers you a keeper. If they wanted to get rid of you, they could have just restructured you out of the organization. Instead, they recreated your position, encouraged you to apply for it, and gave it to you. You earned it and they value you in your role.

When restructurings happen and you don't get your desired position, it's easy and natural to feel insulted and disrespected.  Some companies practice an "up or out" philosophy. That's not the case here.

As JRB3 said, nothing really changed. Sure, look for opportunities inside and outside with more responsibility. You should ALWAYS do this, not just in this situation. 

Being resentful about the situation or showing bitterness will be the career limiting move. Work to make yourself the preferred candidate the next time the senior manager or director position opens.

mattpalmer's picture

Perhaps it's just my high D "take no prisoners" approach, but there's no way I'd want to have to lose a half dozen accomplishment bullets just so I can repeat what I already said, just because I only had a title change (you're doing the same things for the same people!).  If I ran out of accomplishments and had a couple of inches of whitespace, then I'd think about it, but they'd have to be really weak accomplishments to be worth cutting in favour of completely duplicating(!) a responsibilities paragraph.

If you're worried that a recruiter might wonder why you've got what may look like two titles in the one job, perhaps a short parenthetical at the beginning of the responsibilities paragraph, "(Title change due to restructure, no change in responsibilities)"?  That would remove any suspicion and explain what's going on, although it does mess up the "flow" a little.  Tradeoffs, tradeoffs...


efredlund's picture
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Excellent points Mike.

When this happened to me a year ago I felt very negative about it.  It took a while for me to get a healthy perspective on what happened.  Luckily I stayed professional, supported my new boss, and didn't do anything stupid.

Looking back now I can honestly say that the whole experience helped my career because:

1) It forced me to re-evaluate where I was in my career (the being shot at and missed analogy).  I realized I had been stuck in a rut for a while and this provided the final jolt I needed to get me engaged in actively managing my career.

2) I started to do research online to learn the skills I'd need to manage my career.  I ran across a Career Tools podcast and I've been hooked on the Career and Manager Tools podcasts ever since!

I'm still nowhere near reaching my full potential as a manager, but I feel like I finally have the toolkit I need to get there.




efredlund's picture
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I ultimately came to the same conclusion you did.  It doesn't make sense to repeat the same job responsibilities over again just because of a pay grade change and a change in who I reported to.

I'm not going to volunteer it, but if I'm asked about the Manger I/III Financial Analysis title I'll explain that I was a "III", but after a restructure the position was reclassified as "II" following a round of lay-offs.  As Mike pointed out, its a positive story in that they obviously wanted to keep me in the company, otherwise they would have gotten rid of my former role completely.

Overall, it's worked out for the best as the restructure has given me the prodding I needed to really start searching for my next role.

Thanks for talking me through this.



Jazzman's picture
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Why not use "Financial Analysis Manager"?  It's accurate and not confusing. Your role and responsibilities didn't change.   Putting "II/III" would imply the you got promoted, which you don't want to indicate either.  Background checks will confirm accurately.


mattpalmer's picture

The problem is that the background check is likely to reveal a "downshift" in title, and you don't want the first time anyone's heard of an apparent regression in title to be at the background check stage.