I read a story this week about a PR agency that plans to appoint three CEOs. I was ruminating on the wisdom of that when, further down in the story, it was revealed that the firm has divided employees into four specialist categories, giving them cute names like explorers, catalysts, connectors and creators. This made me throw up in my mouth.
Like everyone else, I have had it up to here with cute titles, especially since a human resources expert explains it this way: “There is a need, for the younger generation, for self-expression. A desire for uniqueness, a desire to seem more important than the job might actually be. Generation Y, or our millennials, were groomed by families to have an overly inflated emphasis on their own self-worth. You are going to see this increasingly reflected in job titles. They are not going to have a title like ‘receptionist’ and feel rewarded."
So, now they’re called Director of First Impressions.
These are the same kids that grew up getting trophies for just showing up for sports practices (not actually winning anything), or were bribed by their parent to have behaviors and attitudes (and grades) that, had my generation exhibited, would have gotten us a fast smack across the face — or The Belt.
One wonders why we have to carry this self-indulgence into the workplace, where cute titles only serve to confuse outsiders wondering what your job is really all about.
Can you tell me off the top of your head what the responsibilities are of a Director of Spark? Scrum Master? Growth Hacker? Ambassador of Buzz? Chief E-Wrangler? Accounting Ninja? Brand Defender? (all terms in actual use).
If I have to ask
what your title means, you should revisit it and change to something that nearly everyone understands like account executive, creative officer, head of human resources or chief accountant.
While you can amuse someone in a barroom conversation with your title (a place where, under the right circumstances, nearly EVERYTHING you say will be considered amusing), there are some downsides beyond just annoying me.
“Nobody reads resumes — we search our database using keywords and if your resume turns up, then we scan it — so no one’s impressed
by cool stuff like witty job titles,” Henry Goldbeck, president of a recruiting firm, says in a different story. “What is cool today could be passé tomorrow. If you have any say in
your title, think what it will look like on your resumé ten years from now.”
“Folks love trendy titles, but does it create a career path?” said another recruiter. “Where do you go from ninja? To samurai? Not likely.”
But more importantly, with a cute title you appear to the world to be so self-absorbed that you need special treatment — that using a traditional, descriptive title like VP of marketing doesn't quite capture your preciousness.
Get out the belt.
* Look at the headline again. Bonus points if you name the show that song line is from (without Googling it!).