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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

October 27, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Ninja, warrior, guru: Why job titles shouldn’t be cute or clever

LinkUpNinjaA job title is a few words that describes what you do for work. Most of the time, these words are pretty straight forward, however there is a fine line between being too generic to know what a job entails and too cute to be taken seriously.

Most recently we have seen an upswing in creative-sounding job titles. Listings for ninjasgurus and wizards have started to appear on job search sites like LinkUp. They may seem fun and lighthearted, but something too cute or too clever can backfire for numerous reasons.

From a business perspective, it’s going to be difficult for people to know who does what at the organization if titles are too creative to really make sense. Who wants to ask for the “operations ninja” on the phone or address an invoice to that person, when really they just want to speak with the director of operations? Even in creative industries like marketing and advertising, it’s best to stick to industry-standard job titles to prevent confusion and maintain business integrity.

Even more importantly from a recruiting perspective, it is highly unlikely that a job seeker looking for an accounting position is going to search for a job title like: “master of numbers.” Let’s be smart here, if job seekers can’t find your listings, you can’t hire them.

From the employee’s perspective, it might initially seem cool to be the “certified tech warrior” rather than boring old technical support. But what does that look like on your resume or LinkedIn? You’re building your professional reputation, and does that title really place you in the best light? Furthermore, you know at every future job interview you’re going to be asked about it; 10 years from now it might be frustrating to explain that you really aren’t a warrior.

At best meaningless and at worst downright laughable, these are some of the most awful words that can appear in job titles:

Example: executive accounting guru, administrative guru
Merriam-Webster defines guru as “a teacher or guide that you trust.” In the typical business environment, the word guru in a title is more likely to raise eyebrows than enhance levels of trust. Best to skip the enlightened jargon if you want to be taken seriously.

Example: senior brand ninja, customer relations ninja
Yes, you kick ass at your job, but you’re not in a movie. Therefore, leave the ninja and warrior references to the stars on Hollywood Blvd. Instead, focus on your core responsibilities and how you can truly impress your boss so you can karate chop your way to your next real promotion.

Example: marketing magician, magician of sales analysis
Lesson: You might make magic happen for your clients, but with a funny title, you may not get the account in the first place. If you’re talented at your job, your work will speak for itself. (You’re not a wizard either, in case you were wondering.)

Example: master of digital marketing, finance master
You are not a master, you are a manager. You are not a lord, you are a director. You are not a maven, you are researcher. Words like these are really only appropriate at a Renaissance festival. In thy professional realm – not so much. They are easily misunderstood and can actually be quite offensive. (Do you want to refer to your boss as master?)

Life is short and we know you can’t take everything seriously. When it comes to your career, though, it is serious. Skip the cutesy titles and clever verbiage in your job title, and leave the fun for your weekends away from the office.