While some may laugh, others see these kinds of job titles necessary to elevate their company’s potential for growth.
Of Prophets and Super Saiyans
Valleywag, the gossipy tech blog operated by Gawker Media, recently took to the web to rail against a handful of what it considered to be some of the more ridiculous job titles in Silicon Valley. In their opinion, AOL’s David Shing is the poster boy for this new spate of job titles that are long on hyperbole and short on relevant descriptive terms. Shing’s title at AOL? Digital Prophet. His job is simple – try to predict coming tech trends so AOL stays one step ahead of the game. One perk to Shing’s job pointed out by Valleywag: His predictions don’t actually have to come true.
A quick aside: Shing is unique amongst these titles in that his appearance and style of dress matches his job title as being puzzlingly grandiose. Replete with black nail polish, 1970s racquetball-style glasses and a hairstyle can only be described as Super Saiyan Mullet, Shing is definitely a unique face for AOL.
Job Titles That Sound Odd, But…
eBay employs a Chief Curator to pick out which used trinkets up for auction will be featured on the site’s homepage. Curation is a very hot word in today’s info-centric world, which is why you’re seeing executive-level salaries given out to those who have a gift for separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
Another hot trend in job titles is the use of “evangelist” (for example, Innovation Evangelist or Technical Evangelist). It’s a Millennial-friendly way of saying “external relations,” a trumped-up job title itself. The company’s evangelist is expected to be a thought leader in their designated subject so they can go out and preach the good word to potential investors and clients. Often, they act as the face of their organization, establishing the company as a player in their chosen subject. They can go a long way toward the perception of a company as one who understands trends, and one who is just going through the motions.
Valleywag also argues that the job title of Futurist belongs in the dubious title hall of shame. I beg to differ, however. One of the most fascinating interviews I’ve ever conducted was with Sheryl Connelly, who is head of Global Trends and Futuring for the Ford Motor Company.
Connelly spends almost no time at all thinking about cars. Instead, she pores over global demographic and trend analyses that allow her to keep the automaker at least a decade – and often a generation – ahead of the curve. Before there was a catchy term for it, she was the first person I heard mention the fear of missing out (FOMO) and how it was affecting customer satisfaction.
The More Things Change…
While some of these titles may keep us laughing, becoming a Futurist, Digital Prophet, or even an Evangelist would be intriguing, if not beneficial to a company in today’s information-led world, right? After all, they sound a lot more exciting than any of the job titles I’ve ever held, including my current role – a term people were laughing at 15 years ago: Blogger.
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