Job Title Inflation

Let me conjure up some profits...

Let me conjure up some profits…

Title inflation is something firms must continually manage: on the one hand lofty executive titles (Senior Director and not just Director, VP instead of Senior Director, SVP instead of VP and on and on) to attract or retain talent, while on the other hand ensuring the inflation in titles doesn’t devalue the meaning of the titles and become a bit of a joke (e.g. everyone’s a VP). Now, in addition to title inflation we have an arms-war of creative titles: Guru, Wizard, and Jedi.

If you’re a tech Guru, Rockstar or Wizard, you’re in luck. That’s what many of Canada’s hottest tech startups are looking for. If you’re just a simple programmer or socialmedia marketer, don’t worry; these are the same jobs, tarted up with fancier names. It appears tech startups are increasingly inflating job titles to attract much-needed workers, says AdZuna, a young British company that surveys classified ads in the U.K., Canada, South Africa, Germany and Brazil.

In most cases, the inflated job titles compensate for lower salaries and small staffs. Get hired as a Wizard, and you’ll probably be making your magic in several areas instead of just one.

Another title often seen in online ads, but not in the survey, was Jedi. And how about Overlord, discovered in a similar survey conducted in Britain? We’re not there yet, but probably will be soon. The nature of inflation is that what was great at one time, becomes tired very quickly and must be replaced to maintain its cachet.

So what do tech Wizards or Rockstars actually do? Pretty well the same things as more traditional workers at more traditional and larger companies do, says Gabriel Puliatti, who has been observing Canada since AdZuna launched here last May. They just do more of it.

“Startups are usually small companies, so workers are often jacks of all trades,” Puliatti said.

“These companies are trying to separate out the people who like working for smaller companies. They’re saying ‘We’re cool: You should come to work for us.’ ” Let’s face it, Rockstar sounds way cooler than engineer, he added. “The tech startup culture is kind of jokey, so they use these words to attract people who like that attitude.” (Tony Wanless of Knowpreneur Consultants in The Financial Post).

It may be a bit old-fashioned but one piece of advice I would offer is that regardless of the title one should focus on what skills and experience one will obtain in a role. In any serious recruiting process it is what people can do and their personal attributes (such as the ability to receive and act on feedback; to learn) that trump the lofty and/or amusing job title you’ve got on your social media page of choice.

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