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Published 20 August 2012 06:41, Updated 20 August 2012 13:20
The way of the ninja ... Some experts say fancy job titles can encourage staff to compete for and stay in jobs.
How would you like your business card to describe you as a “problem solving Jedi” or “Teambuilding virtuoso”? If you shudder at the thought, you are probably older than 30.
Title inflation is one of those American things that has infiltrated some of our companies, usually as a way of disguising a less-than-thrilling job, or as compensation for lack of a pay rise.
Those Apple “geniuses” work in a shop, for the most part setting up computers for befuddled Baby Boomers (who really aren’t cool enough to be setting foot in those white temples to technological consumerism anyway).
The “geniuses” may actually love the products. And I can’t blame them, as I write this on my Mac with my iPad as my second screen and my iPhone beside me keeping track of Twitter. But a cool title certainly helps impress the girls or, less frequently, boys.
Apparently, there is even a “Senior Armageddon Avoidance Engineer” somewhere in the company. It would be nice to know what he or she does.
According to recruiting “iconoclast” – his own term – Dr John Sullivan, a fancy title may have the highest return on investment of any single recruiting tool. It has a head start here, because it costs virtually nothing.
In a recent blog, Sullivan says that not only do people queue up for the chance to be a “genius”, they stay longer than the average Apple retail employee.
Sullivan is a frequent speaker on the future of recruitment and a former chief talent officer for Agilent Technologies (the 43,000-employee HP spin-off). He is also a professor of management at San Francisco State University.
It used to be that job title inflation just used to be the appearance of a clutch of vice-presidents at US-headquartered companies, but now we see the rising popularity of “Rockstar”, used for over 2000 jobs, and “Ninja”, used for over 8000 jobs.
At electronics retailer, Best Buy, there is now a “Geek Squad”, whose members drive VW bugs with “Geek Squad” emblazoned across it.
Sullivan is a fan of fancy job titles because he says it gives others confidence in the ability of the person doing the job and it encourages people to want that job.
These sorts of titles tend to exist in IT companies, as a consequence of the fact that not long ago, most of them were start-ups where no-one had a title. As they grew, it became necessary for outsiders to know who did what, so the companies made up job descriptions to reflect the company culture.
One of the most important things to be reflected, of course, was that they were not like every other company. But soon, even the behemoths such as Microsoft got on the bandwagon, nominating “evangelists” among its ranks.
AMP in Australia would not be thought of as “funky” necessarily, but yet it has for years employed a “catalyst for magic” in Annalie Killian, who is entrusted with increasing innovation.
Business card maker, Moo.com, is in just the right position to uncover trends in intriguing job titles and recently delivered these: