Monday, April 9, 2012

What's your job title?

This morning I was doing a spot of housekeeping on my Linkedin account when I noticed an update from a former colleague. It announced that he was now connected to someone whose job title was Appointment Setting Expert.

Yep! My thoughts exactly.

Weird and wacky job titles have been with us for a while now. I had one myself for a while, when I went under the guise of Creative Catalyst at Wunderman.

But Appointment Setting Expert surely takes it to a whole new level. At least I thought it did.

In a post that’s been doing the rounds of the blogosphere lately, Lars Bastholm wrote that he was “…having lunch with a friend the other week, when he told me that a mutual acquaintance had gotten a new agency job. She was now a Fanthropologist.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t for the life of me work out what a Fanthropologist actually does. Turns out it’s a fancy title for an agency Planner. At least I think it is!

I used to think these kinds of silly job titles were restricted to agencies. It appears not. At a conference I attended last month one of the speakers from a professional services firm had the title of Catalyst For Magic.

Again I’m not completely sure what that job entails, but it sure sounds interesting. Well more interesting than an Appointment Setting Expert, that’s for sure.

Take a moment to consider these titles in the context of Google and SEO, and they start to make a little more sense.

Why? Because they’re unique.

Search Copywriter or Marketing Manager on Google and you get millions of links. Search Catalyst For Magic and you’ll get anything but. Which, if you’re aware of the value and importance of a personal brand, is not to be scoffed at.

It’s still not something I’d want on my business card though.

The arrival and growth of digital in agency land hasn’t helped either. “The industry's evolution toward putting increasingly more importance on digital marketing prowess has sparked a whole new set of titles,” says Lars Bastholm, “making it a real challenge for clients to figure out who to turn to.”

And no wonder clients don’t know who to turn to, when pretty much every agency these days has a Creative Technologist, a Director of Innovation and a User Experience Designer.

Unlike most of the silly job titles though, these are roles that are clearly defined. They just happen to sound a bit overblown when you first come across them.

Talking of overblown, our friends in the US have always had a thing for implied importance in their job titles, with my personal favourite being Vice President.

Now I don’t know about you, but it’s President or nothing for me.

Sadly a lot of hard working executives disagree. They love having VP on their business card and email signature.

Some are even happier, because they’re not just a Vice President, they’re a Senior Vice President.

Whatever. As the kids would say.

I could literally go on forever about this sort of stuff. But I promise I won’t. I will however bring this rant full circle and pose a question about whether or not many of the standard job titles in our industry are in need of a refresh.

Not because the job doesn’t sound sexy or exciting, but because the perception of the role varies greatly.

The Art Director is a great case in point.

Advertising agencies all have art directors. Generally they are teamed with copywriters to created communication pieces.

Pure digital agencies also have art directors. However their job is to oversee and provide direction to designers.

Same job title. Very different job.

And I doubt that any art director would be keen to see their job title changed, because ultimately a job title isn’t that important. It’s the person doing the job.

Unless of course they’re an Appointment Setting Expert!

Click here to create your own bullshit job title.