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The Rise of Quirky Job Titles: Embracing Unique Roles in the Workplace

What do you make of the weird titles that some people are anointed with nowadays? Once upon a time a cleaner was called a cleaner but now they may well be a sanitation technician. A shop assistant has become a Retail Jedi and a marketing director a “Wizard Of Light Bulb Moments”. Well, not all shop assistants and not all marketing directors have made the switch but a few have. There is a definite trend towards hyper inflated job titles.

Companies that use such titles send out a signal. They sound quirky and fun. They sound different and warm. However, such titles work best during the good times. When Meta rebranded it decided to call members of staff “Metamates” which is unusual enough though chummy. But when subsequently it announced the sacking of 11,000 of its Mates, it didn’t sound quite that friendly. Starbucks likes to call its employees “Partners” which implies that everyone has a say in running of the business. At least that was the case until some of the Partners decided that they wanted to be in a union at which point Starbucks jumped heavily on these buddies who screamed intimidation.

I suspect that behind some of these title changes is money. It is cheaper to reward someone with the title “Assistant Vice President” than to pay them an extra $20,000 a year. And, if you’re only 25 years old, a title like that will raise your status in your social circle. However, changing one person’s title may introduce pressure among colleagues who will want theirs inflated. In which case, where does it end? The Managing Director becomes “Chief Elephant Trainer” and the Finance Director becomes “Director Of Bean Counting” or “Master Of Coin”.

There is a temptation to make titles sound grandiose. The recipe could involve a region, an industry, and a vague description of the job so we end up with “District Commissioner Northern For Re-Engineering Profit Opportunities”, which nobody understands. Perversely, in practice the longer the job title, the lower the status of the job.

There was a time when a job title used the minimum number of words to describe the position. It wasn’t a bad framework. Everyone understood these labels which transcended companies, countries, and industry. Someone called a Sales Director was in charge of sales and someone called a Marketing Director was in charge of marketing.

Or maybe I’m showing my age. I remember a time when babies were given a name I could understand and pronounce. Since Disney released "Raya and the last Dragon" in 2021, there has been a boom in babies named after the Princess. In the same way, Star Wars has promoted Finn as a popular boy's name. I confess I wouldn’t know George Ezra if I fell over him so I am still in confusion as to how and why there has been a boom in Ezra as a boy’s name. On that note I conclude by predicting there is no turning back. The trend to weird job titles is here and, like it or not, it is here to stay.


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