Whimsical Job Titles: Creative or Confusing?

Whimsical Job Titles: Creative or Confusing?

Coding NinjaCoding Ninja.  Talent Director.  Sustainability Evangelist.  Sales Rockstar.  The Big Kahuna.  Ombudsman.

What are these curious phrases?  They’re the new trend in job titles!

Why do we care about job titles?  Well, they can matter a lot to your employees — and they can also create problems for your company.  Job titles can also be fun, motivating, and important in the recruiting process.

What should a job title communicate?

It’s important that a job title accurately portrays the work that an employee is doing.

In this struggling economy, our businesses have learned to do more with less, and as a result, many of our employees have taken on new roles and responsibilities.  If you review your employees’ job titles, you may discover that they are no longer an accurate fit for them.

If the Receptionist is now assisting part time in marketing and lending a hand with payroll processing, does her title still reflect her job?  Even if she didn’t get a raise for taking on new responsibilities, an enhanced title might be appropriate for her (and appreciated).

It’s instances like this, where an employee’s responsibilities have extended in eclectic directions, that can pose a confusing problem for employers who are trying to create accurate job titles.  And it’s situations like this that can result in a Receptionist being called an Ombudsman, or something equally confusing.

The pros and cons of creative job titles:

Some companies allow employees to create their own job titles.  Certainly this has the potential of being a lot of fun, and bringing out the creativity in the staff.

But creativity taken too far may end up confusing your customers.  Will they understand that your Master Handshaker is your Marketing Manager?  Or will they move on to a company that seems a little more serious?

We have also encountered some very confusing job titles in our years of recruiting.  Sometimes, it seems like a company has tried to cram an entire job description into someone’s title:  Director of Logistics, Transportation, Inventory Management, Accountability and Coordination of Strategic Positioning.  Huh?

Sometimes, titles are overinflated, such as an Administrative Assistant being called Manager of Office Operations.  You may think giving someone a title of manager makes them feel important, but what it also does is create an expectation of a higher level of responsibility, respect, and compensation.

There are no laws that pertain to job titles.  You can call everyone in your company a Director or a Manager or a Grand Poobah if you want to.  The Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets the rules for determining who is exempt or not exempt from minimum wage and overtime provisions, bases those determinations on job responsibilities, not titles. 

Creative titles can make for troublesome recruiting.

If you do decide to be very creative with your job titles, bear in mind that you may have a little more difficulty in your recruiting process.  Someone searching for a Human Resources Manager position may not enter the search terms to pull up your job ad for a People Person.

On the other hand, if your job posting has all of the necessary key words in it, and your corporate personality is expressed as well, you might attract just the right person for your business.

Job titles as an expression of corporate personality:

Companies have more opportunities today to express their “personalities”, and are under more pressure than ever to have a corporate personality to express.  Social media and the internet provide businesses with the ability to reach out in fun ways to touch their customers.  The goal in our social media dominated world is to create lasting relationships with our customers, which is difficult to achieve with old fashioned sterile, impersonal corporate personalities.

Companies have to find ways to stand out and make themselves attractive to their customers.  Humor and creativity are essential tools for companies seeking to shape and give insight into their corporate personalities.  Playful job titles are definitely one way to achieve this.

So here are just a few more potential job titles for your consideration.  Can you figure out what these people do?  Word Herder.  Director of Smiles.  Manager of Reputation.  Director of Amazement.  Princess Paysalot.

Fun, huh?  I’m thinking I don’t want to be a boring President anymore.  Perhaps I’ll change my title to Queen of the Staffing Machine.  How about you?  What will your job title be?