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What’s up with Job Titles in Tech?

Starting off the Hacktoria Blog with a topic that is very close to my heart. The complete and utter shite that is “job titles in tech”. Especially if you’re just starting out, or looking for your second step in the industry, browsing job openings can be a true hell. So, what’s the deal?

A wild growth of weird Titles

Though all the titles HR departments and recruiters come up with can seem completely ridiculous and confusing, it is part of being in an industry that is constantly evolving. With a lot of jobs around that didn’t exist a few years ago, names will change. That being said, for a lot of titles there is just no reason to make them so confusing. I did some digging on the surface web and made a list of 20 titles that stand out and might definitely confuse job seekers. I will not name the companies, because these seem to be common titles.

Innovation Evangelist
Dream Alchemist
Weekend Happiness Concierge
Happiness Engineer
SVG Badass
Time Ninja
Innovation Alchemist
Security Princess
Retail Jedi
Software Ninjaneer
Tax Wrangler
Content Hero
Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence
Innovation Sherpa
Digital Prophet
Wizard of Light Bulb Moments
Full Stack Magician
Data detective
Digital tailor
Chief trust officer

My big question with all of these is, why the hell can’t you just write a descriptive title? When writing a blog, advert, book or anything else it’s good practice to be clear about what it means. Imagine commenting some lines of code with:

# Fudging the magic doodle to present unicorns
# Unicorns make user see the rainbow of enhanced pipeline magic

Over and under selling titles

Titles can be very useful, actually, titles ARE very useful. During my career it’s always been very helpful to have the correct title for a job. When interacting with customers or other providers and vendors, it helps to be taken seriously. No matter your skillset, first impressions matter. For example, sending an email to a vendor to get something done, having your title say “QA Engineer” and not “IT Intern”, can have a massive impact on how they respond to you.

This is of course also true the other way around. I’ve seen a lot of titles getting over sold. The term “engineer” is thrown around like candy on Halloween these days. Everyone is an engineer of some sort it seems. This can be detrimental especially for junior positions, where you end up with a lot of expectations from the people you interact with that you cannot live up to yet.

New title instead of money

This one is especially infuriating. Sure, you can call me the “Head Wizard of IO Activity” where the job actually means formatting old hard-drives. But giving someone a new fancier title without any pay, is just a kick to the groin. I’ve seen it happen so many times and every time it just hurts to see someone’s hard work be validated with just a title upgrade. If a company ever does this to you, start looking for a new place of employment. Use the new fancy title to get a better job though!

Advice on navigating titles?

When looking for your next challenge, keep in mind that titles don’t always mean what they say. Take support roles for example. A title of “Second Level Support” might mean you get to add accounts to AD groups or swap some hardware, but it might also mean you’re the end of the line for any issue that comes up.

My advice is to always read the job description and look at the line of work the company is in, the size of the company and even some of their other listings. If you do proceed to an interview, a good question to ask is “So what does the average day in this role look like?”. The answer should be very clear and give you a clear picture of what the work actually is like.

Now, go out there and secure your position as Head Honcho of Wireless Magic with the magnificent pay of 120K in Doubloons. Until next time!

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Written by Frank

Connecting dots. Ow no wait, wires... I connect wires. Sometimes also waves.

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