I want a job title change - Part 1

“I Want a Job Title Change” – Retitling Part 1

I want a job title change – from now on I shall be called the Chief Dreamweaver. Head of Digital Unicorns was claimed by a dear friend of mine a few years ago (also a marketer – yeah, I know, nobody’s perfect) so I’ll respect his wishes and will neither compete for it nor negotiate. So, I’m left with the re-wording of what is essentially all things content and marketing. (with a strong emphasis on ‘dreams’ and ‘weaving’.)

A wise mentor, Head of Sales (which was the only traditional thing he could ever be accused of) once told me you can never be creative at an inappropriate time, so my new business card is ready to go:

I want a job title change - Chief Dreamweaver

Just in case I change my mind and settle for Queen of Digital Eloquence or Silence Slayer, I’ve got those too:

I want a job title change - Queen of Digital Eloquence
I want a job title change - Silence Slayer

Apart from the fact that it (probably) won’t be approved, the only thing that can stop me is the question “What does that even mean?” or “What is it that you do then?”. And that does worry me a little because I have a feeling that the Chief Dreamweaver or Queen of Digital Eloquence might not quite convey my speciality to an innocent internet seeker of skilled professionals. And if a punter has no idea what I do…

I tested that with my Mum (she volunteered even though she is fully aware that testing on humans is illegal. But how can she possibly say No to her little girl?). She looked at the business card and gave me the look. Yes, that look! The look of a parent who is utterly disappointed and forced to accept the fact their eldest child is indeed a silly monkey, but they can’t say that in so many words because they are genetically programmed to love that silly child unconditionally. Hence, the look. It said it all.

My desire and passion for creativity and change has once again led me to something that is “not exactly silly but ahead of time”. My Mum’s words, not mine! And, as always, she was right.

Job titles should, after all, communicate the work and the responsibilities an employee is performing. At least that is what the ‘Traditional School of Job Titles Thought’ says.

TRADITIONAL & OBVIOUS

Traditional job titles are job titles that make sense – to job seekers, recruiters, clients, and employees. And my Mum. They convey the following:

  • Your speciality (e.g. sales, administration, ops),
  • Your position within the organisation’s hierarchy (e.g. assistant, manager, director),
  • Responsibilities and skills required.
Job titles follow a simple formula: CHANNEL + AREA of EXPERTISE + LEVEL

In most cases they follow a simple formula: CHANNEL + AREA of EXPERTISE + LEVEL

For example: Product Marketing Manager, Marketing Communications Specialist, Digital Marketing Director, Events Marketing Coordinator, Chief Marketing Officer etc.

For lack of a better word, traditional job titles are obvious – they make help understand what you do, where you sit in the company and what knowledge or skills you have.

CREATIVE & INSPIRING

However, there is another school of thought; I’ll call it Creative Job Titles. We’re talking about the cool job titles such as Coding Ninja, Brand Warrior, Conversation Architect, Head of Chaos, Wizard of Want = Marketing Director, Digital Overlord and my latest: the Chief Dreamweaver if we stay only in the world of marketing (or should it be the Realm of Want?).

These new-ish job titles rarely make sense outside of the organisation that uses them or to people who didn’t invent them. They are indeed creative and usually a product of much debate and workshopping but don’t necessarily provide much information about the actual role. They serve a slightly different purpose:

  • To show an initial point of differentiation,
  • To contribute to brand identity,
  • To motivate employees and inspire creativity in the workplace.
New school job titles include cool job titles such as Coding Ninja, Brand Warrior, Conversation Architect, Head of Chaos

They can also cause confusion, especially with clients and recruiters. They might legitimately wonder if I’ve got the right experience at the right level as a Queen of Digital Eloquence (which is why it hasn’t made it to my email signature and LinkedIn profile yet).

Why were cool, creative, and oh-so inspirational (or fancy-pants) job titles not merely a fad of the early 2000s?

  1. New roles emerge:
    Roles so new that they do not fit any of the traditional job descriptions and therefore job titles. Just think about digital media, technology, and other developments in the past 3 decades alone – there is a reason why neither #MediaMaster nor Social Media Manager was around in the 1990s.
     
  2. The job title no longer matches the responsibilities:
    As employees’ responsibilities grow, the job title no longer describes what they do or where they belong accurately enough.
     
  3. Companies with flat structure are different:
    Such companies often start with creative job titles very early on to show they do not have the traditional hierarchy but also must become creative with job titles when the teams grow.
     
  4. Boost in corporate creativity and branding:
    New and creative job titles create a bit of a ‘vibe’ internally and boost recruitment while contributing to the overall branding story. It is not unheard of for companies to have workshops and projects where employees and teams work on new job titles; it is not only a good exercise in rethinking the values and vision but also contributes to team building and serves as a confidence booster.
     
  5. Substitute for a pay rise and bonus:
    Giving someone a desired job title can make them feel important and respected if not better paid. This can sometimes be the economic downturn and the recipient of such honour should also be aware that with the flashy job titles come expectations of more responsibility.
     

The latter is a common story in the world of start-ups but not exclusively. On the other side of the spectrum we have dominant companies that are almost notorious for their use of flashy job titles (e.g. Disney, Google).

It is a fact that retitling won’t work everywhere. But where it does, it sometimes does so well that it almost becomes traditional: we’ve all heard of Apple Geniuses, haven’t we?

I can only hope that The Silence Slayer is the next such thing…