I recently overheard a conversation where a non-profit’s Marketing Director felt uneasy with his title because, and this is verbatim what he said, “I don’t have any marketing experience, I’m just a designer.”
I think we’ve known that titles are a load of crap since the first “guru” appeared. It’s not like anyone actually believed that some mystic shaman of social media blessed a dumbass selling twitter auto-follows with permission to “go forth and multiply”. Bad managers play the title card when they don’t want to pay you more money.
So what’s the deal? I’m the first to admit – I got caught up in it. I’m not exactly sure what a Business Storyteller is… or a Brand Storyteller. Those were my last two job titles. The story I told myself was that I was helping the businesses relate their story to their customers and employees using different mediums. In short, I was PR and Marketing rolled into one – but it’s still a BS, if not somewhat creative, title.
I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a social media strategist, even though I called myself one at one point. Same thing with a Generation Y Strategist (the idea was helping businesses manage Gen Y employees). All on my resume.
The Geek Superhero, to be fair, is more of a personal affect than anything else – I don’t see it as a job title; it’s who I want to be.
Gen Y is big into made up titles; we love ’em because a lot of us feel like outsiders in the business realm. We have experience that isn’t recognized and simultaneously don’t recognize that some of our “experience” is no match for years of hard-earned gut-wrenching trench dwelling that some of the baby boomers have in spades. Even so, that’s no excuse to go making up titles to market the skills you think are most effective.
The problem is – if you pick something Google-able, it works. Typically, a Google-able title has some basis in reality and also has merit because people know enough to search for it. Effective branding is effective branding. You don’t buy Nike because you need something to protect your toes. You don’t buy FourLoko because you’re thirsty.
Important skills will always be in demand – but only the people who are highly visible, great at workplace politics, or in good with someone big will be implementing those important skills. Everybody else will just playing with their titles and networking to try and get a piece of the action.
(Header photo: Act As a Guru by Rionda)