Sunday, November 06, 2011

Job Gibberish

I used to think the aerospace industry was the repository for exotic
and mystifying job titles.

Entities such as NASA were frequently looking for a few good men (and
women) to work as biocomputation engineers, cognizant engineers,
hazardous robotics specialists, space farming experts, stuff like

Little did I know that my own profession would soon be creating jobs
whose titles defy understanding.

It used to be when you went to work in print journalism you had three
options: reporter, photographer or editor. Or some hybrid thereof.

As an editor I used to jokingly try to humble byline-hungry reporters
by referring to them as “news gathering units.” Little did I know
that description might become reality in the 21st century.

The newsbiz now features positions such as “vice president for
audience,” an “experience editor,” an editor in charge of
“collaboration, transparency and crowdsourcing” and a “video
curator,” according to several journalism trade publications.
Not to mention “headline optimizers” and “story scientists.”
Welcome to the new newsroom.

I’m not sure what these people do. I suspect they hold meetings.
Afterwards, they issue a memo.

Of course, this isn’t the exclusive domain of one profession or

Title hyping is a trend that has been ongoing for some time. Nobody
wants a one-word job any more so employers think up elaborate
descriptions. More often than not, they take the place of a raise.

Thus, lifeguards become “wet leisure assistants” and cooks become
“food expediters.”

My personal favorite is the title used by cemetery
plot salespeople: “Prior need specialists.”

In corporate American, title enhancement runs the gamut from clever
to silly. Receptionists are now “Directors of First Impressions.” The
person in charge of customer relations is now “Chief Excellence

One CEO now calls himself “Founder and Difference Maker.” Another
calls herself “Chief Troublemaker” because “she stirs the pot and
asks if we can do better.”

The spokesperson for Yahoo is titled “Yahoo! Evangelist.” The person
who organizes the annual meeting for Berkshire Hathaway is called
“Director of Chaos.”

According to an article in The Economist, “paper boys are ‘media
distribution officers,’ lavatory cleaners are ‘sanitation
consultants,’ sandwich-makers at Subway have the phrase ‘sandwich
artist’ emblazoned on their lapels.

“Even the normally linguistically pure French have got in on the act:
cleaning ladies are becoming ‘techniciennes de surface’ (surface

Some titles won’t even fit on a business card. The BBC has a “vision
controller of multiplatform and portfolio” while the American Cancer
Society features a “manager of futuring and innovation-based
Get high enough up on the food chain and titles follow you from

Great Britain’s recently married Prince William is His Royal Highness
Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of
Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus and Royal Knight Companion of the
Most Noble Order of the Garter. His wife, the former Kate Middleton, is now simply Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

When it comes to titles, nobody can top North Korea’s Kim Jong-iL. We
may know him as a member in good standing of the Axis of Evil.
But back home in Pyongyang, he is known as Supreme Commander at the
Forefront of the Struggle Against Imperialism and the United States,
Greatest Saint Who Rules with Extensive Magnanimity, Lode Star of the
Twenty-First Century, Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness, Eternal
Bosom of Hot Love, Master of Literature, Arts, and Architecture,
Humankind’s Greatest Musical Genius, Guardian Deity of the Planet,
Heaven-Sent Hero and the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived. Among other

I can’t match that. I’m just a Written Word Crafting Engineer.

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