How to Write a Job Title That Works

Writing job titles that work is easy, right?

So imagine the following scene at a social gathering:

“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m an upwardly mobile vision technician.”
“Oh, wow! That sounds amazing! What does it mean?”
“I clean windows.”

Many years ago, the above job title was created as a joke by a witty guy on a UK dating show.

Today, equally silly (and functionally useless), job titles can be found on resumes, job posting sites, and pretty much anywhere else in the careers space and elsewhere.

Here’s a short list of real examples. Let’s see if you can guess the jobs they describe (answers at the bottom):

  1. Chief Chatter
  2. Wizard of Light Bulb Moments
  3. Dream Alchemist
  4. Part-Time Czar
  5. Grand Master of Underlings

As described in Write a Job Description in 6 Easy Steps, there are various key reasons why writing job titles like this isn’t a good idea.

While it could be argued that inflicting one of the above titles onto an expert’s professional resume is an act of cruelty, the downside for recruiters is more ominous. 

Here’s the key question: How many job seekers would be likely to type in one of the above examples while conducting a job search? 

The answer is nada. None. Zip. Zero. So in an effort to be colorful, you’ve made yourself invisible. Therefore, a generic job title will result in more targeted job applicants.

The irony is palpable. 

Some would argue that writing job titles like support a company’s brand image. That’s fine, but it would be difficult to lose an argument based on the following:

  1. Job titles should be helpful to those seeing and hearing them
  2. There’s a time and a place for everything
  3. Enforced jollity starts to grate on people after a while

Aside from stopping job posts being invisible to many job seekers, the down-to-earth approach to job titles achieves two additional objectives:

  1. Describe the area of expertise required
  2. Indicate the hierarchical level within the department/company

And since a professional is expected to put their job title onto their resume, the previous point about “cruelty” should be properly considered.

Because that “cruelty” affects recruiters, too.

Recruiters need to be able to see relevant information at-a-glance when initially working through a slew of resumes, looking for key information that says:

“This is well put together, answers our post, and merits a closer look.” 

In the current downturn, it’s also likely that many recruiters are besieged by enthusiastic hopefuls as well as qualified experts to fill many available positions.

Making this point even more important for anybody tasked with creating a shortlist of good resumes.

A colorful title often gives little to no indication of what the area of expertise is, or what relation it bears to the previous and/or following positions.

This can cause a warning light to go off in a recruiter’s mind as the resume is initially scanned.

The only solution for the recruiter is to either pass on it and look for safer material, or dedicate time to studying why the bizarre and seemingly illogical entry was entered in the first place.

As for lesser offensive titles, it should also be pointed out that an expert in their field is not a “Rockstar” unless they have achieved one of the following:

  1. Fame as a successful singer or performer of rock music
  2. Celebrity status; particularly in inspiring fanatical admiration

When creating job titles, recruiters and others involved in the process should ideally heed the following three points:

  1. Think about what you need, what level you need it to be, and describe it clearly
  2. Help your colleagues process stacks of resumes without unnecessary blockers
  3. Don’t attempt to create job titles when feeling giddy

Additionally, the guy on the dating show lost.

Answers: a. Call Center Manager; b. Marketing Director; c. Head of Creative; d. Assistant Manager; e. Deputy Manager. See complete list.

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