Karen Peterson of Vancouver has a job title that reflects a growing trend. She is the "Independent Project Director for the Vancouver and Richmond Business Liaison and Communications Committees of the Canada Line Rapid Transit Project." According to Barbara Bowes, president of Bowes HR, the trend toward long, descriptive job titles is not new and was gaining momentum as of 2013. "I'm seeing it across the board -- manufacturing, government, not-for-profits," reports Bowes. "It's definitely a trend and it's been building momentum for at least 15 years now." However, as Bowes points out, this can reach a point of absurdity, especially when a job title becomes so metaphorical it's not even descriptive any more.
The job title of sanitation engineer for janitor is, of course, a classic in the inflated job titles category. But even if a janitor is not an engineer of any sort, the work that "sanitation engineers" do is important. Without their hard work, offices, retail stores and schools would be much less pleasant places in which to work, shop and study.
Records Distribution Professional
In the 21st century, even the lowly mail clerk gets in on the title inflation band wagon at many organizations. Don't you just hate it when the records distribution professional is late again?
Senior Customer Relations Representative
The industrial psychologists who first suggested using more descriptive titles to improve employee morale opened a veritable Pandora's Box. When you notice the name tag of the clerk at your corner convenience store now says "Senior Customer Relations Representative," and you know the guy has only been there six months, it's pretty obvious that job titles have been inflated to the point of near meaninglessness.
Senior Technology Strategist -– Digital Products Division
Then there is the ambiguous, over-descriptive job title. Senior Technology Strategist – Digital Products Division is an example of the ambiguous job title. The trick is to be able to decode just what the words mean. When confronted with this kind of job title, Brad Feld, a managing director at Foundry Group, says that sometimes, to figure out what a person is really in charge of, you may have to ask point blank.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.