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Redefining industry job titles – one Digital Prophet at a time

Take a look at the job titles listed below and ask yourself if you fancy doing any of the roles described:

• Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer
• Brand Poet
• Head of Big Ideas
• Director of Magic
• Head of Stories
• Creative Thinker
• Creative Paterfamilias
• Creative-at-large
• Chief Mischief Maker
• Design Czar
• Director of First Impressions
• Chief Inspiration Officer
• Digital Prophet
• Chief Envisioning Officer
• Wizard of Light Bulb Moments
• Digital Dynamo
• Marketing Rockstar
• Lord of Experience
• Emperor of Data

Of course you don’t. Tragically all of these are real job titles that exist within the marketing world and came from a survey of Wunderman staff who were asked to identify the most ridiculous ones that they had come across. In fairness some of them are clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek – no one would really call themselves am ‘Emperor of Data’ or ‘Wizard of Light Bulb Moments’. But worryingly the majority of them are titles, and therefore job descriptions, bestowed on staff by companies that really ought to know better.

It’s clear that in recent years there has been an acceleration in the trend towards people acquiring ridiculous and meaningless job titles. There are a number of reasons for this: first, the gift of a highfalutin job title is an easy way for companies to reward employees without actually having to necessarily pay them more – a cynical move maybe, but no different from the rewards schemes that exist in many other industries. Second, it’s a tool that companies can use to differentiate themselves from their rivals in the sector – a ‘Head of Big Ideas’ sounds so much more interesting and en vogue than a boring old chief strategic officer doesn’t it? (Well that’s what they think). And finally, because everyone wants to show how diversified and contemporary his or her skill base is – the era of digital proliferation has meant that no one wants to look obsolete just by deign of his or her job title. Sadly they’ve ended up with job titles that are either nebulous or plain daft – and often both.

So we have a suggestion for an industry-wide New Year’s Resolution – an amnesty on the job titles space race. After a period of quiet reflection, we need to redefine job titles. We need to stop and start again. For too long companies (and individuals) have been making up job titles to the extent that they now don’t mean anything anymore.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a return to the good old/bad days where prescriptive job titles and structures meant that people were given job titles that didn’t reflect their job or their experience. But rather an acknowledgement that it is things that inspire you – rather than things that define you – that are more likely to describe your choice of vocation.