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Are Trendy Job Titles Here to Stay?

A young woman sitting at a desk in an office.

​Companies are introducing increasingly creative job titles that match trends in popular culture. One example: Nerf posted a chief TikTok officer position in March. The job is slated to last just three months.

"The advantage of having a trend-driven title is that it sounds way more appealing to candidates, particularly Gen Z and Millennials, which make up a good chunk of today's workforce," said Tom Winter, an HR tech recruitment advisor and co-founder of DevSkiller, a developer assessment platform headquartered in Warsaw, Poland.  

Job titles evolve to reflect the changing times. The human resources field is a prime example. Traditional "personnel" titles have become chief people officer, chief happiness officer, adventure coach and whistleblowing coordinator, for some companies.

Winter predicts chief pet officer or office furry friend manager may begin appearing on job postings as more people begin to bring their pets to the office. The pandemic enabled people to work closely beside their pets, and they want to continue doing so.

New jobs are constantly emerging as business needs change, and HR must stay ahead of the trends to continue attracting the right candidates. An innovative job title should be more than simply "fun," however; it should be a strategic descriptor, too.

For some roles, a trendy job title clearly defines employee responsibilities. It specifies the tasks and gives colleagues an overview of who the employee is and what the individual does for the team.

Those are the reasons Willie Greer, HR professional and founder of The Product Analyst, recently created a new position called social media bouncer. This person will handle complaints, "bashes" and harassments that might occur on the company's social media pages, according to Greer.

"Sticking with traditional marketing-type titles only adds confusion to their job description, when we can narrow it down to what they are hired to do," he said. "It should be catchy, easy to grasp but real-sounding as well."

The Costs of Changing Titles

Thanks to the pandemic, chief remote officer is a newly emerging position. Companies like Facebook have set out to hire a director of remote work in response to the volume of employees likely to continue working on a remote or hybrid basis into the future. But before other employers jump on board, Linn Atiyeh, founder and CEO of Bemana Power Recruitment in New Orleans, pointed out there are costs to be considered when changing a job title or creating a new position.

Before she appoints a chief remote officer, Atiyeh is evaluating if the existing staff can keep pace with challenges resulting from working with a high volume of remote employees. If yes, it may be an unnecessary expense. If not, introducing a new job title is worth the investment of a dedicated employee in this role because the needs can't be fulfilled by "traditional" employees.

"Arriving at the conclusion that we should create a new twist on a traditional job is usually the result of our company's needs not being met by existing employees," she said.

Getting Buy-In

Whether a department head or the HR team crafts a trendy new position title, they'll likely still need buy-in and approval from the executive suite.

"Find ways to get them on the same page with you," Greer said. "Enlighten them on why you thought it's needed and cite benchmarks from other companies or organizations who were able to create a good company culture with such a move."

Ultimately, support for the launch of a new job position or trendy title should be built on the merits of the position. Presenting senior staff with a clear-cut case and specifics on how it would benefit the company is critical.

"This could include justifications built on both performance and marketing, and HR professionals should also emphasize the potential wasted opportunities for failing to create this new role," Atiyeh said.

Being a Trailblazer

Companies that choose to create dedicated positions like social media bouncer, chief TikTok officer and others, must learn as they go—there are no existing blueprints to follow. Instead, they have to deal with challenges as they appear. The extra work upfront can return dividends. 

"Alongside the attention and organic marketing that can arise, you may also end up being significantly ahead of your competition and ready to embrace developments and capitalize on new opportunities," Atiyeh said.

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer in New York state.


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