Why Witty Job Titles are All the Rage

Nov 21, 2011 -
If you're a blogger, don't forget to join our new Run-Around. You write about this month's topic -- landing your first job -- on your blog, and we link to your post here on Brazen, bringing new readers to your site. The deadline's at the end of this month, so check out the details. What do ninjas, rockstars and kahunas have in common? Business savvy, of course! New trends show that typical titles such as “manager,” “web developer” and even the elusive “CEO” have become blasé. Punchier, more creative handles are taking over. According to MOO.com, a company that creates business cards, this exercise in originality can make you stand out among a sea of boring, traditional titles. “We are seeing a real shift from traditional business cards to a more ‘social, personal branding card,’” said Paul Lewis, head of marketing at MOO.com. “Social network-savvy individuals are including their Twitter handles, Facebook accounts, Skype, LinkedIn and so on alongside their phone and email details. This, accompanied by these weird and wonderful titles, makes for a thoroughly modern business card!" To most people, average job titles such as “executive manager” don’t mean much. Lewis suggests experimenting with titles that sum you up as a person rather limiting yourself to a one-word descriptor. Of course, success results from more than enthusiasm and a clever job title, but letting personality prevail certainly hasn’t hurt Seth Goldman, president and TeaEO of Honest Tea. Goldman’s title, pun intended, is featured prominently on his Honest Tea bio. Founded in 1998, Honest Tea boasts a 66 percent annual compound growth rate and became the first Fair Trade organic brand to enter the world’s largest beverage distribution system. Basically, that means this guy rocks at his job. “I thought, if I’m responsible for the tea, and the tea is the most important thing, then let’s just make my title TeaEO,” Goldman said. “It was also a fun way to let people know we weren’t taking ourselves too seriously and weren’t going to be constrained by the standard corporate approach to business.” Now, doesn’t that sound like your cup of tea? Word play aside, creative job titles are also strategic business decisions. Joanna Pineda, CEO and Chief Troublemaker of Matrix Group, a web solutions company servicing associations and nonprofits, began using witty titles her first year in business. Her own receptionist has been christened as “First Impressions Officer.” “The fun titles are often more than just fun,” Pineda said. “They convey a lot about the job (First Impressions Officer says a lot about the job, don’t you think?), they communicate a great deal about our company, and they help our job postings stand out on job boards.” Yet don’t make the mistake of overlooking a bit of decorum and political correctness when selecting your official moniker. Your friends and co-workers may lovingly refer to you as a “Grammar Nazi” but the negative connotations might not be worth the laugh. A leader is better than a tyrant. Try titles that convey your role as well as cool confidence, like “Punctuation Prodigy” or “Editor Extraordinaire.” Company leaders aren’t off the hook either. While you may be the most fabulous head honcho your organization has ever seen, “Bootylicious Boss” could raise more eyebrows than sales. How about the aforementioned “Head Honcho?” Or even the simple yet bold “Boss Lady?” Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so don’t be afraid to borrow previously successful ideas. Here are just a few of the top modern job titles MOO.com has come across:
  • Happiness Advocate
  • Social Media Trailblazer
  • Head Cheese
  • Digital Dynamo
  • Copy Cruncher
Now it’s up to you to find the perfect sobriquet for your business card. If you’re lacking a muse, try visiting MOO.com’s Inspiration Gallery to see how other up-and-coming wage-earners are marketing themselves. Or, if you have the right idea but the wrong word, grab the nearest thesaurus and reconnoiter the stupefaction of our lexicon. If you’re still stuck, Pineda recommends reaching out to colleagues. “Have a beer and a brainstorm. Ask others what the essence of your job is and brainstorm with them,” Pineda said. “For example, one of my project manager’s title is Project Manager/Cat Herder/Master Juggler. This job title perfectly embodies what it means to be a project manager at Matrix Group.” So, are you a ninja, a rockstar or a kahuna? Whoever you are and whatever you do, don’t be afraid to make it known. Now get out there and put the pizzazz back in professionalism! If you could go by any title, what would it be? Lacey Mason is a former NPR intern actively seeking new opportunities in Los Angeles while she freelances and copy edits for the Santa Monica Mirror. Visit her online portfolio or follow her on Twitter.