How will a funny job title affect your job search?

Over the last few years, there's been an upsurge in creative job titles. There's 'Auntie', 'Director of First Impressions', 'Innovation Alchemist' and 'Chief Chatterbox', to name a few. But when it comes to moving on to a new position, do these trending job titles help or hinder you?

Why use creative job titles?

Traditionally, the job title given by your organisation would denote your speciality (e.g. sales, administration, supply chain), as well as your place within the organisation's hierarchy (e.g. Assistant, Manager, Director). But new trends in job titles often provide minimal – if any – insight into the actual role and rarely make sense outside of the organisation that invented them. So why are they growing in popularity?

Perhaps businesses are using them to catch the eyes of job seekers tired of scrolling through the same bland job adverts? It's a competitive job market, and this first-glance difference could attract candidates who would otherwise overlook the vacancy. They're also used as a way of conveying corporate values to potential applicants – Head of Keeping People Happy, anyone?

Will a funny job title help me to stand out?

Apart from acting as an initial point of differentiation and contributing to brand identity, what do these funny job titles actually offer the employees saddled with them? If you're applying for internal jobs, it's likely that yours won't do any harm; you, the role and the job title will already be known. Externally, however, there's likely to be confusion about what your current role entails and whether you have the right experience at the right level.

Trending job titles also run the risk of holding you back. If you're looking at moving up the career ladder, they may well make you sound more junior than you really are – almost like the child-friendly version of an adult job. I'd certainly rather be labelled a Project Manager than a Person Organising Work.

What can I do about my daft job title?

If you've been landed with a creative job title but there's no immediacy to your job hunt, you could try negotiating for one that is more descriptive, accurate and traditional. After all, you should be proud of what you do, not embarrassed by it. If you're met with blank stares at the pub when people ask what you do for a living, a new job title could help clear the fog.

Rather than demanding that your boss has a rethink, conduct your own research into roles that align closely with what you do and present your findings and preferred options. Of course, job titles mean different things in different companies – a Director in a major multinational corporation will have a different job scope to a Director in a startup – so be realistic and try to avoid treading on anyone else's toes.

What job title should I put on my CV?

If you already have a standard job title, it's best to use that on your CV ‒ don't be tempted to change it to something wild and wacky. Chances are, the responsibilities and skills associated with your current job title are widely understood. If you're applying for similar roles, it will be immediately obvious to the reader that you have relevant experience and skills.

But what if you're unlucky enough to have been landed with an unconventional job title? You risk alienating recruiters who don't understand exactly what it is that you do. You could even be overlooked by applicant tracking systems looking for candidates with particular keywords in their job titles. At best, you'll probably find yourself having to repeatedly explain what your job entails.

The obvious solution is to change your job title to something a bit more common. After all, a CV isn't a legal document; just as you can say your name is Katie rather than Catherine, you can say that you're a Waitress rather than a Fantastic Food Assistant. However, if your new employer then asks for a reference which is returned stating that you had a completely different job title, they may start questioning the integrity of your CV. What else might you have taken 'artistic licence' with?

At TopCV, we advise using your official job title, but also including a more generic 'translation' of this in brackets. Our professional CV writers see hundreds of CVs each year and have valuable insight into what's traditional, what's trendy and what's just meaningless nonsense. If you work with one, they will be able to suggest realistic alternatives to funny job titles based on what you actually do, and then frame your responsibilities in a way that all recruiters will respond to.

So, coming back to our original question: Do creative job titles help you stand out? The answer is yes, but possibly not in the way you'd like.

Not sure if your wacky job title is getting in the way of your job search? A free, expert CV critique will tell you where you stand.

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