Creative terms such as ‘ninja’, ‘wizard’ and ‘guru’ are becoming more and more common on business cards, email signatures and LinkedIn profiles. Arguments supporting the trend of creative job titles suggest that these terms motivate employees, start business conversations and inspire creativity in the workplace.
But what we really want to know is, what exactly is a Director of First Impressions?!
Unconventional job titles may have started in boutique, trendy creative agencies following the dot com boom but now even business powerhouses such as Apple, Taco Bell and Disney are on board, having abolished the word ‘employees’ in favour of ‘geniuses’, ‘champions’ and ‘cast members’.
You may or may not have already come across some of these quirky takes on traditional job titles:
On a more serious note, the c-suite is a large partaker in this too, albeit at a milder level. As Forbes puts it, “In the past few years, the c-suite has exploded its members, knighting nearly every department head with new, inventive chief titles likely dreamed up by the marketing team”. Examples include Chief Strategy Officer (Xerox), Chief People Officer (Microsoft) and Chief Information Officer (IBM).
Commentators have suggested that unconventional job titles have evolved because of two key reasons:
‘Job title inflation’, where employees receive a new title but little increase in responsibility or remuneration, has also contributed to the rise of sassy job titles.
According to The Economist, “When it comes to job titles, we live in an age of rampant inflation. Everybody you come across seems to be a chief or president of some variety...The most immediate explanation is the economic downturn: bosses are doling out ever fancier titles as a substitute for pay raises and bonuses. But there are also structural reasons for the trend. The most basic is the growing complexity of businesses.”
The advantages of more unique job titles include:
Risks of adopting unconventional job titles include:
The question we should ask today is, are creative job titles motivating employees and providing a clearer description of responsibilities, or have they gone too far and are just confusing, annoying and embarrassing?