We were prompted to write this by a recent Australian Financial Review article, “The rising menace of absurd job titles”. It shared some interesting recent titles – including a global bank that had a “Head of Loan Trading” – a job that only existed on paper, perhaps to appease a regulator. There was also an example of “Global Verbal Brand Identity Senior Manager” in a major consulting firm – whatever that means.

We know our work and the jobs we do, are important to most of us and our identities – to varying levels at different points of time. So – titles do matter – they’re often the shorthand with which we explain what we do to support our basic needs, lives, families, interests, and the wider community.

We’ve also found the topic gets some viral interest – especially when we last saw a funeral home employee referred to as a ‘Director of Last Impressions’, and we joked that we hope we don’t cross their path until they are the Chief Customer Officer, Last Impressions…

This article isn’t here to be critical.

We will explore job titles – why we need them and what’s considered when we make a job title in an organisation. But we will have some fun as the words unfurl – sharing a few more of our favourite examples gleaned from our collective years in corporate life.

Why we need job titles?

You’d think this was simple – it is about letting people know what you do.

Whether it’s a customer, or client, or patient, or stakeholder, or shareholder, or colleague, it’s helpful for them to quickly understand what you do.

Plus – titles often have a hierarchical element – placing people within the organisational structure, and this helps the community you work in to piece together how and where you fit into their jigsaw too.

And they can define a skillset – a simplified version of your qualifications to explain the skills you have that might be helpful to others. Dentist, Lawyer, Physiotherapist – all describe exactly what you can do.

So, job titles aren’t inherently bad – in fact they are good, if they effectively explain a bit about what you do!

What’s considered when we make job titles?

Beyond the immediate why, there’s a few things we look at when leaders and People & Culture make job titles:

  1. Do we already have jobs like this? If so, what are those people called – and consistency matters. If we don’t, what is sensible for the work the job does, that will make sense to an applicant!
  2. What are the market conventions? How do people in our industry talk about the jobs? In some cases, there are internal titles e.g., Senior Manager, Lending and external titles you may use with customers e.g., Director, Lending. 
  1. Titles and Pay. Having a title that makes some sense helps us know what to pay people and what they should expect. Whether it’s a young person in their first job, tied to an Award; or an experienced tradesperson or a knowledge worker. What we call someone helps us know the type of pay that’s legally required, or expected out in the market. And it lines up jobs with career paths and progressive improvements.

And as we whiz through why we need titles, and what you should consider if you’re hiring for a job and need to call it something, spare a thought for… 

Some of the top Job Titles We’ve Seen…

Not a long list, but we feel a good list. Love to hear more of these – so do share with us your favourites. 9 of the best.

  1. Director of First Impressions. A meeter, a greeter, a handshake, a smile.
  2. Director of Last Impressions. We hope their career goes well, and that we get to meet them once they’re Chief Last Impressions Officer…later rather than sooner…
  3. Penetration Tester. Critical tech job, hilarious title, impenetrable humour.
  4. Beverage Dissemination Officer. This one is not funny, hydration is a serious matter.
  5. Happiness Director. Because every other job is Miserable Manager, Sadness Senior Consultant and Chief Emotional Torturer.
  6. Chief Growth Officer. Sales is not a dirty word, just go for it.
  7. Colon Lover. Get your mind out of the gutter. They love punctuation!
  8. The Office Dog. Love dogs, animals generally. They make the world a richer place. They regulate our emotive states, make us happier. All good. Their names, fine. Controversial – but titles for them – are a bridge too far.
  9. Vibe Manager and Head of All Things Awesome. Please, keep being awesome and sending good vibes, and go by your name…

The landing – how to make better job titles?

Our jobs matter, but really, it’s about our contribution. Not to live to work or work to live – but to add value to people around us in some way. And that comes in jobs big and small. What we do, of course, but also how and who we get to do it with.

The answer to better job titles, is fairly simple.

Keep the title simple, clear, and relevant.

Grandeur in titles doesn’t make people happier or move the dial. It probably just confuses everyone.

If you want them to be happy, you need purpose, relationships, agency and accountability – in workplaces and spaces that are fair and safe.