SAN FRANCISCO — Job titles can spell success or failure and the new century is generating a host of new and unusual job titles. That's important, consultants say, because a unique title really does give a person an advantage and helps generate additional interest if the title is part of a job posting.
Evangelist. Guru. Those are so stuck in the dot-com bust. These days try chief Popsicle. Or chief executive pickle. And director of storytelling.
When people hear Rana DiOrio's title, chief executive pickle, "They almost universally smile," DiOrio said. She's the head of Little Pickle Press in Belvedere, Calif., "When asked 'why,' I say it's because I don't take myself too seriously.' "
"We get a lot of clients who want us to give them a name, and make them an honorary employee," said Felecia Hatcher, chief Popsicle at Feverish Ice Cream, in Miami. "It is really fun."
The trend of too-cute, offbeat titles isn't limited to small companies. Allan Haley, director of words and letters for monotype imaging with Monotype Imaging Inc., in Woburn, Mass., said creative titles are showing up on Wall Street. He's used this title since 2000, saying "I needed a succinct way to introduce myself to clients, create a positive impression and then get on with business."
But it is in smaller and creative businesses like marketing, public relations and media where today's titles go off the chart.
"My job title is director of storytelling," said Austin Lee, who works at the social media company eyespeak.com in Atlanta. He's in social media marketing. "I approach social media as an opportunity for my clients to tell their story online."
Jean Lafferty at Arico Natural Foods Co. in San Diego is called communicator and public happy-maker. "As a small company with a fun, hip product, we don't take ourselves too seriously," she said. The head of the company is called chief flavor maker. And a co-worker's title is the wicked witch of the web.
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO at FlexJobs.com, in Boulder, Colo., said 21st-century titles are either a new take on traditional job titles, or they didn't exist 10 years ago.
Fell said an innovative job title can instill pride and let an employee know they are valued, "as long as the person holding the title is happy with it and the title speaks to the important elements of their role," she said.
Mitch Kocen, assistant marketing manager for BAJobs.com in Campbell, Calif., said he's seen growth in nontraditional job titles. "The trends I'm seeing are all very recent," he said. And the trends come with a downside. "While it may seem like every company is doing something different and edgy, anyone with a trendy job title "runs the risk of it not matching up when your references are checked."
Kocen advises anyone holding a cutting-edge job title to figure out what their "real world" job title equivalent would be, and put that in parenthesis in the resume.