The L Word

Who’s employing wizards and ninjas?

Will there ever come a time when we are really honest about jobs and give them clear names?
Will there ever come a time when we are really honest about jobs and give them clear names?
Photo: Shutterstock

Wizards, geniuses, czars, evangelists, gurus, and ninjas? Has the world gone mad when it comes to recruitment?

Every now and then, I like to dip into job websites just to see what I might be missing if I joined the ranks of the gainfully employed in Luxembourg.

It’s more a voyeuristic thing, I’m not really going to apply for that position as trust fund manager or tax law specialist, but lately I’ve been amazed at some of the job titles I’m seeing.

If you’re an IT ninja does this mean you cut off the heads of people who complain about your software rollout? If you’re a social media czar, do you dictate who is allowed to use snapchat and instagram in the office? If you’re a marketing wizard, do you carry a wand and use it on your webmaster when he refuses to get the coffee?

Surely not everyone who works for Apple is a “genius”, and the word “guru” is so over-used it no longer means anything.

It seems that big brand companies are coming up with imaginative job titles to do precisely what – come across as more honest, attract people who “think outside the box”, make jobs sound more exciting than they really are?

Chief troublemaker or waste management technician?

These are all real job titles. The head of cyber security is now the “paranoid in chief”. The CEO is now the “chief troublemaker” and a toy manufacturer is recruiting a “chief play officer”. Does he or she get to play with toys all day or has someone watched the film “Big” and taken it a bit too seriously.

A friend recently posted an overheard conversation in which two people were talking on a train journey. One was an Impact Manager for a charity, and openly admitted they didn’t know what that meant. The other was a “digital advisor” who watched videos and webinars all day. Both were sitting in first class seats.

Big brand companies are coming up with imaginative job titles.
Big brand companies are coming up with imaginative job titles.
Photo: Shutterstock

Then there’s the whole elevation of mundane jobs to make them sound better. It seems to be a fashion to call the receptionist the Director of First Impressions, call centre workers Client Liaison Managers and bin men, Waste Management Technicians.

Do the people doing these jobs feel better because of the grandiose title? Does it make emptying bins just that little bit more joyful knowing you are a senior person in waste management?

I can just picture an army of Starbucks baristas and Nandos patrãos happily writing names on coffee cups and serving up peri-peri sauce because without the term “waiting staff” burdened on them, the zero hours contracts and minimum wage are no longer important to their lives. They’ve got trendy job titles instead.

It feels like a “light bulb” moment where human resources people across the world suddenly got creative and said: “Hey if we call all these low paid jobs something exciting, people will want to do them.” Then the top management felt left out, so they started changing their titles to “thought leader” and “evangelist”.

Date a job evangelist at your own risk

Who is an “evangelist” about work? OK, let me rephrase that. Who wants to know, make friends with or date someone who is an evangelist about work?

Will there ever come a time when we are really honest about jobs and give them clear names?

How about, “as boring as watching paint dry but will pay your way through university,” or “really stressful top job but the share options mean you can retire at 50,” or “soul-destroying but will look good on your CV”.

Prospective employees might appreciate a bit of candid honesty.

This advice has been brought to you by the Czar of house management, homework genius, food and beverage dissemination manager and school run ninja.

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(Sarita Rao, wort-en@wort.lu, +352 49 93 459)    

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