Useless job titles

I have shared before my embarrassment at explaining my job to my grandmother.

In fact, this must be a common plague in this modern society, at least judging by some of the job titles I see floating around: partly due to the difficulty of nailing down exactly what you do in an increasingly pulverized galaxy of competences, and in part thanks to some good ol’ overselling, some titles are just plain hilarious.

Guru

The grand-daddy of all silly job titles, it created the category for everybody else; my profound dislike for this term has nothing to do with Indian culture, but a lot to do with the longing for simpler explanations. What – exactly – was wrong with calling oneself an Expert?

Evangelist

Literally “He who announces the truth”; except that most of the people who sport the title have not been given the Truth by the Old Man with a White Beard, but are instead announcing you their opinion. Which is entirely legitimate, but then you should remember Lt. Harry Callahan’s opinion on opinions:

Awakener

Is this a profession? I mean, none of these are true jobs, as a couple of my friends no doubt would say, but this is pushing the envelope. I construe this is someone who professionally meets people in a state of spiritual torpor from which s/he awakens them.

Ninja

Meaning someone with utterly developed skills in some area. But I am not sure I get the warlike reference, unless, of course, this is a highly educated tip of the hat to Sun Tzu’ “The Art of War” which is so often misquoted in marketing circles…

Jedi

Not quite sure if this means “One who does insane tricks that look like magic” or “The Force is with this One”. Whatever, silly anyway.

Czar

Meaning “the absolute ruler” of something. Shame that usually this is a title bestowed over an individual that has no power whatsoever, except to annoy a lot of other people.

Now, what to do if you actually MEET someone with one of these silly job titles? Or how to react if someone calls you by any one of these monikers?

Well, the second is easy, as actually there’s no harm; I mean, people form their opinion about your professional skills and if someone happens to think you are a Python Ninja, the only thing left to do is to thank them (and perhaps add an ego deflating remark of your own). The first case is more sensitive, as obviously you are meeting someone with a different sense of ridicule, so watch out what you say.

To kids, especially those who work in startups one small word of wisdom: you DO have control over how you introduce yourself (either in person, on a business card or online) and what you write on that precious one-liner will haunt you, especially when you’re NOT in the room.

And you? Do you have colleagues with totally bonkers job titles?

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