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How do you feel about the latest trend in ‘uptitling’?

Uptitling_Image_3_large_for_websiteThe practice of ‘uptitling’, in other words, giving grandiose or slightly convoluted titles to employees, has actually become quite commonplace within organisations around the UK.  And it doesn’t seem to matter what industry you’re in, roles right across the board are being elongated, embellished and acronym-ed.

We all know what a sales assistant does, for example, but how many of us could actually explain what a Brand Champion does? Well, in fact, they are one and the same within some retail organisations! Receptionists are being called a Director of First Impressions or Guest Services Agent, while call centre employees can now describe themselves as Communication Executives. And within the creative world of Marketing, a sector rife with Ninja’s and Jedi’s, we have seen some of the best and most extreme examples so far:

  • Brand Evangelist – Marketing Brand Manager
  • Chief Inspiration Officer – A ‘CIO’ is a company representative whose role is essentially to encourage ‘belief in the company’ and ‘internal evangelism of its values’
  • New Media Guru – Digital Marketing Manager
  • Initiative Ninja – Planner

Recruitment consultants (aka Talent Delivery Specialists/Chief Talent Acquisition Officers) have come up with a whole range of job titles in recent times to make their vacancies sound more appealing. So what is driving this?

Some applicants may be put off by a run of the mill job title in an advert so a trend has emerged where organisations are being ever more creative with uptitling. Recruitment can be a lengthy process anyway– so this trend can actually add to that time to recruit, as candidates are not sure exactly what they’re applying for, so may not apply at all in some cases!

From the increasingly loose application of established and understood titles such as “surgeon”, which is now used to describe anyone from a podiatrist to a tree-trimmer, job titles have become a minefield of euphemism in today’s workplace. Recent coverage in the national media on this growing trend for “Jobbledegook” calls for clarity and plain English in the job market so applicants know exactly what they are applying for.

So why the growing popularity of this trend if it is deemed by many as a negative to recruitment? In some respects, it reflects the tough economic times in which we have been living of late, so when an employer wants to motivate and retain a valued member of staff, but doesn’t have the financial means to do so, a change of job title can have a similar effect. And whilst the cynical view might be that this is just a way for managers to increase their employees’ workloads without paying the appropriate reward, uptitling is not only used to recognise status, but it can also work wonders for an individual’s career progression.

At the opposite end of the scale, another strain of uptitling seems to be emerging. This is particularly prevalent in tech companies, or with high profile positions, where the job holder is essentially attempting to make their role more relatable. Examples of this include a Managing Director dubbing themselves as ‘Chief Thinker’, ‘Chief Imagineer’ or ‘Chief Know-it-all’ (in the case of the late Steve Jobs).

These are just a few of the ‘jobbledygook’ titles that we have seen recently:

  • A freelance graphic designer working on an e-commerce website = Back-end manager
  • Librarian = Information advisor
  • Customer services administrator = direct debit and membership and professional development stock and credit administrator.
  • Insurance telesales = family protection consultant
  • Lift engineer = Vertical transport engineer
  • Receptionist = Welcoming agent and telephone intermediary