Stupid Fucking Job Titles

The Oregonian‘s business section, which for some reason, persists with an online logo of a graph going up, as opposed to down, down, down, continues to dog the issues that matter this morning, in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

Why be CEO when you can call yourself Chief Wisdom Officer? President sounds pretty dull, compared with Consultant of Leisure. And unlike a receptionist, a Director of Smiles can spread cheer with her nameplate alone.

Oh God, I’m about to say something I can’t take back. Somebody stop me. Please.

But fans of nontraditional titles say they reflect a company’s personality, projecting a hip, culturally relevant image. Customers feel more comfortable approaching somebody with a funny or down-to-earth title. And for workers, choosing a moniker is a job perk that encourages loyalty to the company.

How about director of being fucked in the metaphoric ass? Can one take that? Or perhaps one could just call it “being fired.” But wait. Here’s the money shot:

Once upon a time, Karen Natzel was a marketing consultant. She did brochures and logos for commercial contractors.

As she expanded her work, the title no longer made sense. Plus, she cringed at the connotation.

“In some ways, you think, ‘What’s in a title?’” says Natzel, who operates from a home office in Northeast Portland. “But consultant is not a very positive title. You get, ‘Oh, you’re one of those.’”

So she renamed herself Business Therapist — a reference to all the personalities and emotions that shape a workplace.

There’s evidently cash in them thar hills. Or perhaps not. Because nobody thought to ask any of the four companies profiled about their performance, it seems.

12 responses to this post

  1. Kiala -

    I’m a Lifestyle Expert.

    Any questions?

  2. Sue -

    Guess what, Oregonian? f-you. Why are creative industries always coming up with bs like this? This is like grade inflation leaking into the workplace. Some people think a B+ should actually mean something just like having the word “director” in your title should indicate leadership and rank.

  3. Kevin -

    Customers feel more comfortable approaching somebody with a funny or down-to-earth title.

    Yes. I always feel more secure when my banker, cardiologist, and attorney all adopt titles to suggest whimsy rather than competence and experience.

  4. Kevin -

    If Umpqua goes tits-up à la WaMu, I can’t imagine these people will be putting “Director of Smiles” or “Office of Cultural Enhancement” on their resumés. They’ll be turning back into receptionists and HR directors lickety-split.

    What is a story like this doing in the business section of a major metropolitan newspaper?

  5. Lizzy Caston -

    “What is a story like this doing in the business section of a major metropolitan newspaper?”

    It’s obvious: to annoy us and further drive away existing and potential readers. It’s also probably written for insecure D-list business people who need to feel like somehow they are actually culturally relevant and special, and that they have something of value to offer instead of just being just easily replaceable cogs in the system.

    I kind of like the Oregonian article. It reminds me of my earnest high school paper crossed with the Onion.

  6. Sue -

    I always thought having the word “expediter” in my title would be very cool.

  7. jake -

    “What is a story like this doing in the business section of a major metropolitan newspaper?”

    Yeah, but don’t you ask that of Oregonian articles and columns all the time? The columns especially–the type of stuff I’d expect to find in a small town paper. Not necessarily bad, just laughable for a place that fancies itself a major city.

  8. Paul Riddell -

    I used to work for a weekly newspaper with that sort of flexibility in titles, and the assistant editor insisted upon being referred to as the “Major General Editor”. In fact, when he was fired, one of the clauses in his contract stated that he had to be listed in the masthead as “Major General Editor Emeritus” after he left, and he was for the last year the paper was being printed. Considering that he also wrote a “humor” column that was titled “Mr. Funny Guy” so that readers knew that they were supposed to laugh instead of projectile vomit, I’m amazed that nobody changed the plate on his office to “Head Douchebag” for truth in advertising reasons.

  9. Samuel John Klein -

    Here’s some more future job titles, for the general weal:

    Director of Customer Service Prevention
    Assistant Chief Frustrator
    Ink Spiller 1
    Securityguardista
    Toroidal Service Specialist
    Solid Waste Visioning Consultant
    Actual Engineer
    Assistant Hayes Barnard
    Chief of Employees named “Jones” (and Assistant Jones)
    Drug Abuse Supervisor

    Discuss.

  10. Steve Woodward -

    What’s wrong with an occasional article pointing out that some people have fun at their jobs? The O’s business section is otherwise filled with articles acknowledging the pain of people involved in layoffs, bankruptcies and other horrific aspects of the current economic catastrophe — or do you choose to ignore those stories just so you can pick on the outlier? The reason it’s in a major metro newspaper is because it’s a real trend — just not one that Earnestness Nazis like. (Full disclosure: I was an Oregonian reporter and editor for 20 years before taking a buyout in the newsroom downsizing last year.)

    Yours truly,
    Ninja-in-chief
    NewsNinaPDX

  11. Matt Davis -

    Thanks for commenting, Steve. Although I’d suggest it’s somewhat difficult for you to be objective!

    What do you think of this one?

    http://mattdavisopenshismouth.com/2009/01/the-os-food-section-triumphs-agains/#comments

  12. Paul Riddell -

    Matt, the best response is to ask if any of these characters are official “Pan-greasers”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQNAHoOKxok at the 3:28 mark. “It’s special grease!”)

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