Enterprise Software

Stupid job titles have to go

These days, corporate directories are filled with job titles that are so vague and ambiguous they no longer have any meaning. Here are a few of the worst offenders.

I haven't gone off on a rant lately but today I am feeling the need. For some reason, my inbox has been filling more and more with emails from HR folks. I want to clarify that my blog is not an HR blog. It is a blog about how to manage your career, and offers, more often than not, tips for getting around HR in the hiring process and appealing straight to the hiring manager.

But that's not what my rant is about. I'm much too shallow for that. I'm actually just annoyed by the job titles I'm seeing in the emails.

I've gritted my teeth through Manager of People (as opposed to what? Manager of Office Furniture?) and Chief Motivation Officer but my surly disposition refuses to let "Chief Word of Mouth Officer" slide by. What does that even mean? Is this someone who has shown a great affinity for gossip? And is there a Deputy Word of Mouth Officer running around somewhere? And officer? Is there a badge involved?

I have to give it to IT. Most IT job titles are uniform across the board. Network Administrators? You'll find one in almost every company. Database Manager? Perfectly clear.

Although Chief Information Officer is a little iffy to me. I just hate the pairing of a straightforward term like "chief" with "information," a term that encompasses everything under the sun. "Need to know where the break room is? I'm sorry, you'll have to ask the Chief Information Officer."

Of course, I have to pause here and recognize some of the IT titles with perceived hipness that were created back in the day by dot com leaders who wanted to "reward" employees in lieu of raises. Bill Detwiler, Head Technology Editor, and TR Dojo blogger, told me of two: IT Gunslinger and IT Dragonslayer. Just kill me now.

Combine some of these with the ever-popular ambiguity tool and you get the likes of Content Catalyst Coordinator and Online Engagement Editor (the latter being an actual title of a friend of mine, who was not, as the title implies, in the online dating service business.) What's with the wishy-washy, let's-all-hold-hands ambiguity of job titles?

I implore the people who create job titles to start creating ones that actually mean something. This push to find terms that insinuate importance or some obscure concept simply has to stop. As much as you would like the terms facilitator, liaison, producer, coordinator, planner, etc., to encompass, the fact is that no one knows what they mean.

I'd like to be able to look in the corporate directory and not be completely befuddled as to who can answer a question for me? Otherwise, how am I to know that the answer to my question about insurance deductibles has to be directed to the Internal Principal Human Functionality Administrator?


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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