Register for your free ZDNet membership or if you are already a member, sign in using your preferred method below.
The modern office is experiencing breakneck technological change, and that goes double for today's rapidly evolving and sometimes ridiculous job titles.
Like the old-timey garbage man who became a sanitation engineer, yesterday's marketing assistants are reborn as today's Twitter Ninjas. Because, why not? Click through to decode (whenever possible) some of the strangest job titles we've found on LinkedIn recently. As in, yes: These are all 100 percent real.
We'll start with the Wizard of Lightbulb Moments. This supernatural executive is not really an idea man, but rather the person who casts a spell on the idea man.
You'll probably find this self-described Gandalf in a comfortable office chomping down antacids, because conjuring up light bulb moments usually means that this person is a marketing director.
Are you ready for source code as scripture? Well, get with the program, because the revival tent is coming to your office, promoted by a Technology Evangelist. These high-profile tech aficionados specialize in preaching to the choir, promoting a given technology, platform or methodology.
For instance, if a business is heavy into content management systems like Wordpress, they hire have a PHP evangelist, because that programming language is key to that environment. Can we get an "Amen" from the congregation?
Don't expect the Innovation Sherpa to schlep your briefcase up the office elevator and lead you through the deadly cubicle pass in the morning. Because this sherpa is supposedly doing all the heavy lifting for the Innovation Department. Where's that, you may ask? If you have to ask, we can't tell you.
What we can say is that at Microsoft, this high-altitude gig is a senior executive position.
Our guess is that the I.S.'s first innovation was creating his nifty job title.
Business as warfare is a well-worn metaphor, which explains why the term Brand Warrior is ubiquitous, bordering on generic. Soldiering in service of a brand comes in all shapes and sizes--from epic, swash-buckling CEOs to entry-level pawns toiling in the trenches.
Elon Musk could be said to be Tesla's ultimate brand warrior, promoting and protecting the company's integrity at every turn. And call-center reps could be seen as brand infantry because they're on the front lines fighting for the company's reputation.
Pro tip: If given the option, be a truly epic CEO knight or bishop, not merely a Brand Warrior pawn. You're welcome.
If it seems a little grandiose to call yourself an overlord, just consider that nobody applies for the job of underlord. It's just resumé shorthand: Overlord = honcho.
If you're the type to believe your own hype immediately after creating it, you're probably an overlord already, a Creative Overlord heading up the marketing department. FYI, a Digital Overlord would be a website manager. Where does it stop? Presumably, a Basura Overlord would be the office trash collector.
From the Nice Work If You Can Get It File, this is an actual gig someone claims to have at Mashable.
We assume this person writes about the gossipy/viral stories that people like to discuss around the proverbial water cooler. Of course, that's just a guess, because we're too busy laughing at Forever Alone memes and clocking trending hashtags to properly research this vital job title.
It's never too late to get your corporate chakras aligned. Setting aside for a moment the fact that there's no such thing as a corporate chakra, you definitely don't want to get on the wrong side of an innovation guru.
Although it's sometimes dicey to discern the concrete changes such gurus are advocating, it's probably not a bad idea to take a leap of faith to become (or pretend to become) an acolyte of innovation. You don't ever want to be against innovation, whether real or imagined. Play along to get along. Om shanti.
Given its surging prevalence in contemporary corporate culture, you could be forgiven for thinking that sensei was the Japanese word for consultant. It's actually more like teacher or master, in a Karate Kid kind of way, only in this case, with exactly as much martial arts expertise as consultants usually have.
Fluent in marketing gobbledygook and corporate doublespeak, Thought Leader is a coveted gig because of its nebulousness ... and the fact that Thought Leaders are basically perk sponges. Where better to lead thoughts than at the most glamorous conferences and most exclusive corporate parties? In short, thought leader = on the list.
Title inflation is a problem, a gargantuan problem, an Olympus-sized problem, which has led to the deification of even minor jobs in the contemporary office. Case in point would be the Direct Mail Demigod--who used to be known as the Direct Mail Manager (or, sometimes, that freelancer who sits over by the copier).
For the love of god(s), things have really gotten out of hand with Retail Demigods, Digital Demigods, Software Demigods, Admissions Demigods and even, according to our research, Cabinetry Demigods.
A silly sounding title, but one that you can't treat too lightly, even if it does come from The Flintstones via Gilbert and Sullivan.
After all, the Big Cheese by any other name is still le gran fromage. So remember, a boss with a sense of irony expansive enough to put his overblown title in ironic quote marks is plenty big enough fire you.
And ain't nothing grand about getting fired.
Ninjas are rampant in today's offices; almost any task you imagine can be Ninja-fied. Todd is a collating ninja, Pat is the project's traffic ninja, Jenn is our social media ninja. And why not? When you think ninja, the attributes that spring to mind are agile, deadly, acrobatic.
But if you name your kick-ass job title after these legendary, multi-talented souls, bear in mind that they are also purely imaginary. Perspective, people.
Most offices have a tribe of these folks who wander from firm to firm and job to job, seeking sustenance. Like Laplanders who follow their herds, these tech wanderers go where the jobs are.
So don't get too attached to your digital nomad co-workers, because when the watering hole (a.k.a., the money) dries up this crew is on the road again.
Like disruption, instigating is one of those trouble-making terms that are now seen as a good thing. But it all depends on who's instigating and who's getting instigated.
As the name implies, the Chief Business Instigator is likely to end up giving you the business one way or another. And as the Chief in the title clearly indicates, he or she could be drumming up business ... or drumming you out of the office.
Need talent? What business doesn't? Abracadabra: The Sorcerer of Talent can conjure up some new people to fill your needs.
A staffing agency or HR consultant doesn't sound nearly as magical, but might get the job done too. Just sayin'.
No, this doesn't involve Beats headphones--unless of course you're trying to track the messages people are sharing about Beats on social media and the web.
Brand and Cultural listening is merely a more technical way of doing what your parents might have called paying attention. Your brand listener can help locate influencers and advocates for your brands as well as collecting the messages that consumers are sharing about your products and services. Ask him or her about some free headphones, too, because you never know.
Word wizards used to be called "writers;" now they're lucky to be called at all.
What they do is still magical, mind you, but college dropouts will do something vaguely similar for a can of Red Bull and a chance to get published.
Boiling cauldron alert! If you see someone in the office adding eye of newt to your landing pages or toe of frog to your company's Twitter feed, it's probably the Marketing Magician, who utilizes the dark arts to increase click-thru, drive traffic and maximize your SEO. It's all very mysterious.
These marketing conjurers come in various stripes--content marketing, event marketing, social marketing--but they're all equally magical, i.e., not at all magical. Pointy hat optional.
A junior inspiration officer might be something like an office jester, but the chief of this tribe is tasked with inspiring all stakeholders in the enterprise and motivating the team.
In other words, the CIO is a cheerleader with a senior level salary.
If your company is a maverick firm that has the need for e-commerce speed, or maybe is out on the town trying to hook up with the easiest customers, you need a wing-woman who's always got your back.
Okay, the pilot/pick-up scene mixed metaphor is a little jarring in an office context, but this title probably refers to someone who's the right-hand woman of the e-commerce top dog.
Dreams are illusory, and alchemy is the mythical science of changing worthless elements into gold, but if that's what the head of creative wants to call himself, who are we to argue?
Word to the wise: We're guessing this dream coworker could be a real nightmare.
This gig doesn't involve finding tablets in the desert, though maybe using an iPad on a business trip to Phoenix is the next best thing.
A distant cousin of the technology evangelist, the Digital Prophet is a diviner of trends that you can only hope will lead the company to the promised land.
If your boss likes to be known by this title, at least you know what you're in for: high standards and high stress, high rewards ... or high unemployment.