by SARAH BUTLER
I know lots of nurses, doctors, tradies, teachers. I even know a firefighter and a couple of cops for good measure. But I also know an awful lot of Strategic Planners, Health Promotion Specialists, Talent Agents, Human Resource Managers, and Heads of Digital Innovation.
These types of roles, are now as commonplace as your standard postman (or ‘Communications Delivery Specialist’). I have no idea how many different types of employment there are now but I’d wager a bet that the job names recorded in the little flight cards we all fill out when we head overseas have at least doubled over the past couple of decades.
A lot of these roles seem to be the result of technology (IT managers), new industries (even the PM is on the bandwagon having created our first Minister of Population) and globalisation (Regional Directors). But I think several of the roles are also a result of our increased need for status recognition. In an increasingly competitive world, titles are important. Of course to some extent titles have always been important, for example you want to know your doctor is really, um, a doctor. But perhaps it used to be a matter of having a title, or not. You were either a royal or a pleb, the boss or an employee.
Now lots of people have a title and lots of us want one. I am certainly not being preachy – I work in corporate land and I’ve worked hard for the promotions I’ve received and been truly proud and appreciative upon receiving them. Hell, I’ve enjoyed getting new business cards and updating my email signature – it’s tangible evidence that you are heading in the right direction and helps to communicate to colleagues that you’re transitioning into a new role.
So I’m not anti-titles by any means. Really I think the more the merrier or at least the more, the more interesting. I just think it’s quite weird that so many people these days end up in jobs that they need to explain at dinner parties. Case in point, a recent conversation I had with an acquaintance of a friend went something like this:
Me: ‘So what do you do for work?’
Him: ‘Oh, well I’m like an engineer. Well, it’s actually more of a construction role, at least at the moment. You know, like Project Management. Working from plans, but I don’t like develop the plans. But yeah, mainly large construction projects. In an engineering capacity.’
Me: ‘ Right, well. That sounds interesting.’
Him: ‘Yeah it is. What about you, what do you do?’
Me: ‘Oh, well I work in advertising, in account management.’
Him: (puzzled, then suddenly relieved) ‘Oh! Like in Mad Men.’
Me: (weighing up the options of continuing the somewhat painful conversation) ‘Ahhhh, yep, pretty much’.
Thank god for Mad Men is all I can say.
A guy I got an email from the other day had sixteen words in his title. Yes, you read that correctly, sixteen. He is a strategic, something or the other, of the department of something or the other with a particular focus on something specific.
I really do wonder whether all of these ‘new roles’ have infiltrated into children’s classrooms yet. Are kids in school standing up and saying earnestly that they want to be myotherapists when they grow up? Early Childhood Development specialists? Senior Portfolio Managers? Strategic directors of Communications and Messaging?
Somehow I’m guessing that most kids don’t know what these new fangled jobs are. They probably still just want to grow up to have sensible jobs. Like Astronauts and Lion Tamers.
Sarah is a mother-of-one who works full-time in the advertising industry. One day she will write a book, until then she will simply read lots of them.
What is the strangest of most convoluted job title you’ve ever heard? Do you think these sort of titles are legitimate or do they just exist so we can make ourselves sound impressive? What’s you job title? Do you have the job you hoped for when you were a kid?