I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
The British marketing agency OnePoll has uncovered some doozies of job titles. A “Colour Distribution Technician” is, apparently, what used to be called a painter and decorator. “Media Distribution Officers” were, once upon a time, known as paper boys, and a “Coin Facilitation Engineer” is the person who collects your money at a toll booth.
A spokesperson for OnePoll was quoted in The Telegraph in 2009: “These job titles are absolutely barmy. Some have been bubbling around for a few years but now the practice of dreaming up such titles seems to have gone into overdrive.”
Fancy Job Titles Created to Disguise Real Meaning
According to The Daily Express, the trend is catching on because employers want to make hum-drum jobs sound more appealing (because after all, they’re not going to offer more money). As the recruiting company Coburg Banks points out, “Some companies … believe they can get away with paying a staff member a pitiful wage as long as they give them a beefy sounding title.”
Surely though, it’s questionable whether or not a window washer’s self-esteem jumps because he or she became a “Transparency-Enhancement Facilitator.” It's more likely she or he will fall off the platform laughing, and drop into the tender hands of a Bone Resetting Specialist.
Or, does the “Highway Environmental Hygienist” feel better about himself now he’s no longer a road sweeper?
Perhaps, the creators of these convoluted names for simple work have consulted Bull***tJob.com. There, the website managers have set up a job title creator. Those searching for a meaningless job description can chose one word from each of three columns and come up with, Senior Solutions Supervisor, or Legacy Functionality Analyst. And, who wouldn’t want to be a National Implementation Director; assuming it comes with a key to the executive washroom and a parking spot near the elevator?
More Meaningless Job Titles
OnePoll researchers spent four months looking for occupations with strange titles advertised on the internet, although most of the high-falutin’ job descriptors were nominated by the people saddled with them. “Each title covers an ordinary, everyday role,” wrote The Mail Online, “which has been given a puffed-up new name by employers―presumably in the hope of attracting applicants foolish enough not to see straight through the ruse.”
Some examples include:
- Education Centre Nourishment Consultant (School Lunch Server)
- Petroleum Transfer Engineer (Gas Jockey)
- Customer Experience Enhancement Consultant (Shop Assistant)
- Gastronomical Hygiene Technician (Dishwasher)
- Mortar Logistics Engineer (Labourer)
- Domestic Technician (Housewife)
- Field Nourishment Consultant (Waiter)
Meanwhile, over at Coburg Banks the company has listed some of the strangest job titles that have appeared on CVs coming into their organization. They say they have tried to decipher the most logical explanations for the “idiotic” descriptions:
- Wizard of Light Bulb Moments (Marketing Director)
- Problem Wrangler (Counsellor)
- Pneumatic Device and Machine Optimizer (Factory Worker)
- Grand Master of Underlings (Deputy Manager)
- Accounting Ninja (Financial Manager)
But, the folks at Coburg Banks are completely baffled about what Communications Ambassadors, Happiness Advocates, Hyphenated-specialists, Second Tier Totalists, or Actions and Repercussions Advisers might do for a living.
They add that job applicants will not get past the first screening if they include in their CVs words such as “jedi,” “wizard,” “ninja,” or “czar,” among others.
The Positive Side of Odd Job Titles
Making a Virtue out of a Vice
Some employers are embracing the imaginative job titling movement. As John Linkner writes in Forbes, in today’s creative economy workers seek not be restricted by dull, traditional monikers: “… if you want them to think outside the box, why should they have an ‘in the box’ title?”
Who wouldn’t want a business card with “Vice-President of Miscellaneous Stuff” on it? It could be yours if you worked for Quicken Loans. The publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt used to have receptionists; now it has “Directors of First Impressions.”
The Matrix Group is also in publishing and its chief honcho has a title that is secretly given to most of the breed by the lower orders―"Chief Troublemaker."
“Master of Disasters.” Now that’s a title with pizzazz and it goes to people working at the MapInfo Corporation who assist government planners in recovering from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other calamities.
Fodder for Comics
There’s a rich vein of humour here to be mined by late-night talk show hosts, but the British comedian Al Murray has the jump on them all. He bills himself as “The Pub Landlord,” and no doubt he employs “Beverage Dissemination Officers” (bartenders) in his alehouse.
In his routine, Murray likes to engage with audience members about their names and jobs. One man told Murray he was a chauffeur, “No you’re not,” said the unpretentious Murray, “you’re a f….. driver.” And, he has great fun in this video clip with a group of “secretaries.”
- In 19th century Britain “Inspectors of Nuisances” were appointed by local councils. They had the highly sought after occupation of examining privies, cesspools, and the like for “filthy and unwholesome” living conditions.
- This article was written by an Alphabet Re-Arrangement Technician.
- “Job Titles Get Jargon Makeover to Boost Appeal.” Murray Wardrup, The Telegraph, April 7, 2009.
- “The 50 Weirdest Job Titles Ever.” Coburg Banks, undated.
- “Job Title Creator.” Bull***t Jobs, undated.
- “Jobs Name Game: Guess what a ‘Recycling Operative’ or an ‘Education Centre Nourishment Consultant’ Actually Does?” Mail Online, April 7, 2009.
- “The 21 Most Creative Job Titles.”Josh Linkner, Forbes, December 4, 2014.
- “Jobs.” BBC, Quite Interesting, undated.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2016 Rupert Taylor