In the good old days, people had real job titles, you know, like butcher, baker, candlestick maker. Your job title, quite correctly, reflected what you do. In today’s modern workplace, where people do the grand sum of fuck all most of the day apart from sitting in meetings and pretending that they’re of some importance to this bloated organisation, job titles have had to change in order to reflect the fact that the job you do, or that you were originally employed to do, is no longer of any importance. Your job title is now defined by a number of things:

  • your ambition
  • what others think of you
  • how much the company needs you

… and not by what you do. And that job title carries so much weight that should a consultant ever walk into the room (and that act costs your business at least £5000 per step so make sure it’s a small room), he will instantly ask for everyone’s job titles, and should they not contain the word ‘senior’ or ‘chief’, he will snub them like an 18th-century French aristocrat waving his powdered tissue in the air.

Here’s what job titles ACTUALLY mean:

Senior: not quite good enough to be a Director, but following the latest pay freeze, the only thing the company can offer is a change of job title, so now you’re made ‘Senior’. For example, what’s the difference between a Knowledge Manager and a Senior Knowledge Manager? Probably a blow job.

Executive: someone who does work, or ‘executes’ it. Mysteriously never mentioned in ‘senior’-only meetings, unless preceded by ‘Chief’ which transforms the job title from non-entity to God.

Head of Strategy: someone who, despite limited PowerPoint skills, is employed to build PowerPoint slides. You would have thought that spending 8 hours a day using PowerPoint, they would have moved away from clip art and shitty ‘zoom in’ graphics, but you can still see that small smirk of pride during a presentation when a light blue box zooms in from the top right corner, proclaiming ‘VALUE!’

Talent Supply Manager: you work in recruitment, you fool.  You hire people. Mind, you probably don’t any more, do you. However, this does raise the point that some jobs are so mindless, so vacuous, so devoid of any brain work, that you have to obfuscate this grim fact with a job title so convoluted that, with any luck, when you tell someone what you do, it will be a full five minutes after departing that they realise what you really are.

Welcoming agent and telephone intermediary: a real title for a receptionist. Because, as above, telling people that you are a receptionist is akin to telling them that you haven’t got a real job.

How to get a better job title

So how do you improve your job title? Well, it’s going to involve some sucking-up, I’m afraid, and it does mean that you’re going to have to TALK to your manager, who has probably been avoiding you by ‘working at home’ or ‘being involved in a number of meetings’ for the last couple of weeks. You could even save it for one of your ‘one to ones’ which were scheduled to take place once a month. They never do.

So corner him/her and make sure that you take full advantage of the bullshit lexicon – put yourself forward as a ‘strategic thinker’ and use the suffix -driven for everything. This really works, because the word ‘driven’ implies that you are like some mad fucker about everything:

  • metrics-driven: i.e. you like statistics
  • data-driven: i.e. you like looking at excel spreadsheets
  • people-driven: i.e. you’re either a stalker or you’re a people-person

Now you’re going to have to lose all sense of self, I’m afraid. Say that you’re really keen to “progress your career” and “move forward within the organisation”. If you’re still not cringing and wanting to self-immolate, move in for the kill – this works.

“I realise the company is not in a position to offer a pay rise, and I’m fine with that. What I’d like is to change my job title to reflect not only what I currently do, but my ambitions for myself and the department.”

At this stage, your boss will either have orgasmed or signed on the bottom line, giving you the job title of ‘Senior Strategic Metrics Analyst Coordination Flow Planner”, which sounds like crap but at least you’re no longer “Strategic Metrics Analyst Coordination Flow Executive”, and when the consultant pops his head round the door (cost: £5,000), he’ll acknowledge you rather than spit at you.




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