Creative Job Title Guidelines

Katrina Kibben candidate experience, Communication, Employment Branding and Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction

“A job title is the cheapest form of compensation.” 

“My manager encouraged me to come up with a more creative job title.” 

“We just use what we’ve always had.” 

I’ve heard it all when it comes to picking a job title. 

In 2009, when a lot of the first creative job titles appeared, I took one of the jobs. Social Media Ninja. I swear I’m not making that up. My team made a lot of jokes about what my next role could be – Samurai? Warrior? Sensai? The title was fun, but it left a lot of essential things to the imagination. Things like what I did and what my next job should be, for example. 

See, back then, job titles were one of the first employer brand activation strategies. While companies were starting to understand how to tell their stories, they were under the impression that creative job titles would make their jobs “stand out.” More creative people would apply. It was the ultimate candidate attraction strategy. 

Here’s the catch: No one over the age of 7 thinks they will be a ninja when they grow up. So while employers were coming up with imaginative job titles, they were decreasing their reach. Candidates weren’t searching for a ninja, rockstar, or guru gig. 

Even worse? They were hurting the people they eventually hired, too. There’s no universal meaning for a made-up job title. Other employers (everyone, really) had no clue what I did every day. 

Job titles might be cheap, but guessing hurts everyone. 

How To Pick The Right Job Title

There’s a book on writing better job postings, but here’s the TL;DR version: 

  1. Don’t guess. Research job titles and understand how people are using job titles now by doing a google search for the job title and the word resume. For example, “HR business partner resume.” Look at the image results and see how people are using different variations of that job title now. 
  2. Don’t use internal titles or abbreviations. Something as simple as HR vs. Human Resources can be the difference in tens of thousands of search results. Oh, and no one is searching Sr. Business Developer II. 
  3. Research search volume. Know what gets more searches by comparing keyword search volume on Google Trends. Use the most frequently searched words in your job title to get more traffic. 
  4. For niche, highly-skilled jobs, stick with your gut. If you are hiring a dolphin brain scientist – that’s a particular job where something highly searched in the industry like “scientist” isn’t going to attract the right people. Stay specific with senior, highly-skilled roles. 

It’s OK to want a Ninja – Just don’t make me put that on my LinkedIn profile or resume.