With startups’ more casual approach to the corporate world, many organisations have taken liberties in the description of their employees’ job titles.

All of a sudden, a creative writing fever struck in: Developers became ninjas. Social media specialists became wizards. Analysts became warriors. From evangelists to honchos, unicorns, and ninjas, all sorts of fantasy characters started popping out on business cards, company websites and job ads. And just like in a bad movie plot about a virus, things just got out of control and spread across far beyond the startup universe.

A quick search on LinkedIn reveals that over 42,917 people have the word “ninja” in their titles (plus the ones who are really good at hiding); while there are 157,665 people that describe themselves as “warriors”; and don’t forget the 28,457 professional “evangelists”.

It’s gotten to a point where creative name descriptions have become a sort of an inside joke. You, too, can create a hip Palo Alto job title with the Silicon Valley Job Title Generator. It can even be used as a substitute for a raise.

One may think that attributing adventurous job titles can say a lot about a company’s edginess and sense of humour. The truth of the matter is, this kind of approach can be ineffective when looking for a candidate.

What on earth is a “tech ninja”, anyway? Does it mean they’ve been gifted with the power of invisibility and can pop out of nowhere all of a sudden for any incoming tech needs? Does it mean they simply like black attire? Or maybe just have a fascination with blades? Whatever reason it may be, it says pretty much nothing about a person’s job. And that is a problem.

Maybe you’re thinking this is a bit harsh, but this isn’t merely speculative. When you search for “creative job titles” on Google and find a series of articles about “job titles translation”, that’s when you realise something is not quite as it should be. You might think titles like “Chief Everything Officer” sound cool, but they can end up defeating your original purpose of finding a candidate for your team.

Job titles should be easy and taken seriously, simply because otherwise jobs don’t turn up when using keywords to find them. From a business perspective, and even more importantly, from a recruiting perspective, nobody in their right mind is going to search for a “mobile jedi”, “technologist sensei” or “innovation guru”. Nor is a prospective client going to call one’s office asking to talk with “the marketing unicorn”.

This doesn’t mean that detailed titles don’t work. They do, when they are specific. But there is a difference between creating detailed titles and creating titles that are wacky, and therefore confusing.

To sum it up, this is why “creative” job titles are a trend to avoid:

  1. They lack of clarityyou may very well be looking for a Scrum Guru, but what you have to look for is a Scrum Master, drop the “Guru” and stick to the real thing. Simple!
  2. They sound unprofessional“yeah, hi, I’m Sales Ninja here at Landing.jobs and we’d love to have your job offers on our platform.”
  3. They may sound pretentiousdon’t expect the so-called Social Media Jedi to bring you all the likes on your social media profiles.

Before writing a cool and edgy job description, think carefully. There are many ways to show your company is a cool place to work at. You have a nerdy culture and like to flaunt it? Amazing; you can go ahead and cosplay the hell out of it — but do it in a way that actually allows you to reach the right talent.


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