A Quick Vent about ‘Do You Know Who I Am?’
We have finally crossed over the line. On the internet, we can be whoever we want to be in anonymous keyboard gangster style or celebrated heroism for doing less than the average person--famed mediocrity. The once distinctly separated Avatar to authentic Real Life has blended into glorified job titles that inflate the scope of what people do for a living.
We have become incredibly pompous in divvying out job titles that serve as an illusion and further strain honest communication and meaningful conversations. Why? If you are unable to see things realistically and instead indulge in the buffed-up romanticism of what you actually do, there is no way to live up to those expectations. This increases negative self-worth.
You are also not receptive to conversations you feel will shatter the manifestation you built with misinformation mortar. Not only will future employers not understand what experience you obtained, but you have also worked yourself out of a robust, trackable progressive career model. If you feel you need social currency on Facebook to vindicate your job, you are doing yourself a disservice. You should feel comfortable in your own skin. It saddens me that people live in bubbles of inflated righteous egos.
This behavior screams low self-worth and being overly preoccupied in creating misdirected, smoke & mirror value. Don’t get distracted by a stunning fluffed-up title, rather than the pay the position is worth. We are our worst enemy when cheerleading for ourselves.
Job seekers completely disregard negotiating skills to receive worth in pay based on merit and accomplishment for a trumped-up job title. Know your value. Don’t think this happens? Let’s talk about the perpetuation of bullshit.
My Job Title Is Bigger Than Yours
A bogus title ensures you will not be paid your worth and doesn’t speak to your relevant skillset and experience. There is an important distinction between ‘bogus’ job titles and ‘professional’ job titles. Bogus job titles off-the-chart hurl you into a career type that you have no business being in. Professional job titles insert a hierarchical word like ‘Associate’, ‘Manager’, or ‘Lead’, and depict your scope of work and authority accurately.
Examples of bogus titles include:
Custodial Engineer - The definition of a Custodial Engineer is one who cleans and maintains office buildings, schools, and other commercial buildings. An Engineer is one who invents, designs, analyzes & builds test machines, complex systems, and sets requirements on limitations imposed by regulation, practicality, safety, and cost in these endeavors. It takes approximately one year of on-the-job training and no formal college education to become a Custodial Engineer. It takes a college degree of four to six years minimum to become an Engineer. These two words have no business being associated with each other. Neither word is bad, but they are not relevant nor related = bogus and misleading.
Field Nourishment Consultant - Let’s break it down. Field obviously means they are traveling and in the trenches. Nourishment Consultant implies a degree in order to consult others with their expertise. A certified Nutritionist requires a 4-year degree in clinical nutrition or a Master’s degree in human nutrition with a 900-hour internship according to the American Nutrition Association - which they are probably a member of right? Nope, this job title refers to a waiter/waitress in food service.
Media Distribution Officer - Hmmm, well, there are 3 types of media (internet, print, and broadcast). So, they would be participating in creating content. Distribution would be sharing to a mass of people, easy enough. Now, Officer. Definitely denotes some type of authority and holds some type of office either civil, public, private, or ecclesiastic. At first glance, I would say this is a Press Release Agent type job in the political arena. Nope, paper delivery person.
I’m sure you can think of a million others. It is no small wonder those entering the workforce do not have realistic salary expectations for entry-level positions and lack the patience to work their way up the ladder.
Ambition and promotion are as easy as creating a new job title. I always thought it was ‘dress for the job you want and behave like you already have it’. I don’t think fluffing up a job title is how that works. The phrase allows employees to earn their way while job titles give what is not earned.
Job Title Generators - Magiko!
Job titles can be creative, but they need to provide accurate pictures of the experience and skillset you carry. Job titles should not be too ambiguous either like, ‘Management Consultant’ -- this says nothing about the scope of work.
Both Recruiters and Job Seekers are warned about creating fluffed-up job titles and rightfully so. It is extremely difficult to see job progression and experience on a resume if the titles are fluffed up and don’t speak to what your experience is and if you have the skillset.
Fluffing job titles not only hurt you on a resume, but they are also distractions employers use not to pay you your worth. They will use these distractions in lieu of a salary increase. There are Job Title generators that do not hide this fact:
Don’t think you would fall for it? Money reported that 70% of responders on a survey would take a better job title over more money; to the tune of about $10,000 less salary. Titles do have stature and importance but need to maintain relevancy and I’m not convinced a pay cut is necessary to accomplish this. If so, you’re doing it wrong.
Be Creatively Real & Negotiate It
It was most likely David Shing that had the largest hand in creative job titles. He dubbed himself a Digital Prophet with AOL back in 2011 and currently tours the world as a Thought Leader.
If your job title is important to you, don’t sacrifice your salary for it - there is simply no need. If you want to show something clever on LinkedIn, you can always put your Title then show your wit in italics:
Kelly Mitchell, Author
Word Ambassador Extraordinaire
Sally Smith, Sales Representative
Demigod of Show Me The Money
Sue Smith, Human Resources Director
Champion of Office Happiness
Bryan Gumble, Social Media Manager
Social Media Overlord
Job benefits can be negotiated, so can job titles. If your proposed job title makes sense, the employer will most likely appreciate the creativity, maintaining relevance, and the fact that what you do and how you are representing the company is important to you.
If you do it right and make the title work for you and reflect well on the company, it isn’t a big ask. Excellent job titles are specific, accurate reflections of what you do and can change to remain relevant to your progressive career. Fluffing up a title lessens credibility while a descriptive one boosts it.
If you are stuck with an ambiguous job title, the ‘italic’ trick works there too. The Tech world is King when it comes to eccentric titles that are clever and ambiguous. It is simple to just add a blurb of what you do under your name:
Sam Smith, Paranoid-In-Chief
Cyber Security Lead
(Yahoo calls their cybersecurity the paranoids)
John Knowles, Chief Storyteller
Helping Companies Tell Their Story Through Branding
If you present a new job title, be prepared to explain the reasons why it would benefit the company and why you feel it is necessary. Negotiation requires some back-and-forth conversation along with logical reasons. This goes for salary negotiations as well.
In my book, Clap If You Can Hear Me, I dedicate a chapter to resumes (you only have 8 seconds to impress the machine; that’s right, machine), salary negotiation, and other essential skills along with resources.
Know your worth
Get paid your worth
Worth is independent of job title
Negotiate salary, benefits & title--not your value - there is a difference