Job Titles vs. Work Environment

terrible job titles

My two-bits worth on Job Titles vs. Work Environment …..

PLEASE – we have heard enough – no one wants to work with Rock Stars, Ninjas, Gurus, Aces or Warriors! agreed to my reposting their recent article on Job Titles. Before we get there, here are a few of my thoughts  on the subject.

I’ve read a ton of resumes and interviewed a whole lot of people. Sometimes I think I’ve seen it all in job titles then – oh oh, here we go again – a new one that absolutely no sense at all.

Of course, we have all met the 22-year-old CEO, the CIO of a department of 3 and the Director of Talent Management that graduated last year. At the opposite end of the scale we might even have overlooked the Project Manager with 20 years experience leading projects in excess of $20M or the Warehouse Manager that oversees operations for a 250 person company.

Starbucks has its Baristas, Apple has its Geniuses, Best Buy has its Geeks and – not to be outdone – Food Network has its own Shredded Cheese Authority. There are even cases where the Receptionist has been renamed Office Access Control Manager or Director of First Impressions. Some of the really bad ones include Godfather of Talent, Marketing Czar, Integration Champion, IT Pro Evangelist. Did you know that even Mark Zuckerberg has a VP (Vice Pooch) of Social Strategy at Facebook?

Some food for thought on job titles – maybe a little Sense and Sensibility?

  1. Keep the job title relevant so it describes the job – When a job title is too vague or nebulous, it causes a great deal of confusion internally and externally. Do you want your customers giggling behind your back?
  2. Denote hierarchical rank – Traditionally organizations (with the possible exception of start-up companies) require job titles to designate reporting structure and/or answer internal and external questions about who outranks who. What if your customers need to identify a correct department or understand where to escalate an issues if necessary?
  3. Attract appropriate new recruits – Remember that before you can hire people, they have to apply first. If job descriptions are too vague, weird or eccentric, ‘real’ candidates may not even find you. Back to point #1.

My closing thoughts – Some fancy, smancy job title may motivate someone for a few weeks but then what? IMHO the real answer to motivating and keeping employees happy is to create a work environment that is ‘healthy’ and provide the people with the right tools to do their job – regardless of what title they hold!

Hope you also see good value in the following article from


Job Titles Won’t Bring Your Workers Happiness, but a Wonderful Workplace Will

Not to pick on those happy-go-lucky folks whose goal is to bring about happiness at work, but true happiness comes from organizations doing right by their employees.

Harpo-Marx Workforce-comHarpo Marx would have made a good chief happiness officer. Honk, honk.

Today’s odd job titles take the cake

From chief baking officer to the wizard of light bulb moments to bad-ass rock star code ninja, some people feel the need to express their creativity with the words that go under their names on their business cards and LinkedIn profiles. And, if you ask me, unless you’re a missionary, the word evangelist probably shouldn’t be a part of your job title.

I’m all for originality, but when it comes to titles, I prefer the tried and true offerings that have permeated the workplace for decades. Full disclosure: We editors get a good giggle when we come across one of these peculiar job titles in the copy we’re reading, and don’t think we keep these jim-dandys to ourselves in the newsroom. No siree, Bob. They get passed around like a box of Godiva chocolates. Sous chef expediting wizard anyone?

Sure I thought it was a real hoot when I learned years ago that Jerry Yang was the chief yahoo at Yahoo and that Jeff Taylor was the chief monster at Monster, but have titles like CEO, CFO, COO and CHRO become passé? Come to think of it, anyone can be a chief executive officer — especially in a company with one employee — but how many CHOs do you know?

Of course I’m talking about chief hugs officers. These folks aren’t a dime a dozen, but they aim to make the juice worth the squeeze for their workers and clients. Let’s hug it out? I think human resources might have a problem with that concept.

There’s also another kind of CHO out there. With apologies to Pharrell Williams, it doesn’t make me feel like a room without a roof. Of course, I’m talking about chief happiness officers.

Call me old-fashioned, but unless you’re a “shiny, happy” person like, ahem, Michael Stype, or a glowering, horn-honking Harpo Marx, calling yourself a “chief happiness officer” is a stretch in my book. OK Snoopy gets a pass, too.

Not to pick on those happy-go-lucky folks whose goal is to bring about happiness at work, but true happiness comes from organizations doing right by their employees. Not even Googler Chade-Meng Tan would disagree with that. At least I think …

You want happy workers?

Give them what they want: a culture where creativity is encouraged and pass-the-buck is discouraged, flexibility to manage business life and home life, good benefits like a retirement plan with auto-rebalancing and a few plum perks — discounted movie tickets anyone? — couldn’t hurt either.

With those tenets in place, you won’t need funky job titles like “happiness hero” to get employees engaged. Happiness on the job is a chief motivator on its own.

Oh by the way, I’ve decided to forgo my title as assistant managing editor for something that’s better-suited for my skill set and personality. Just call me the lynx of lexicon.


Published Date of Original Article August 7, 2014

James Tehrani is Workforce’s assistant managing editor.  Follow Tehrani on Twitter at @Workforce James and like his blog on Facebook at “Whatever Works” blog. You can also follow him on Google Plus.

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