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Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.


Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Gurus, Ninjas, and Rock Stars (or Why a Creative Title Could Work Against You)

Kent Nolen

There was once a time when it was not uncommon to meet someone with a title like Corporate Communications Guru or Web Development Ninja. In many cases, companies created these titles to differentiate themselves and show how unstuffy they were ("Look how modern and different we are! 1970's IBM would never have Guru, Ninja, or Rock Star in their titles").

I was reminded of all of this when I consulted with an executive team who were looking to fill a senior level marketing role. One of the candidates that was most appealing was a very experienced marketing professional whose current tile was Head of Ideas and Storytelling. Despite this candidate's qualifications, that title proved to be a big problem among the hiring team, all of whom thought the title was so undefined that they couldn't determine how this candidate even fit into a typical organizational structure. Worse, many of the executives thought the title was just silly and transferred that perception to the candidate (who, sadly, likely had no role in creating that title).

Here's the thing; if you have an unusual title – even one that seems strong but is not easy for individuals outside of your organization to define (anyone with "innovation" in your title, I am looking your way) – that title could work against you when you are ready to take the next step. If you have control over your title, make sure that it accurately captures your role in a away that outsiders can understand. If you don't have control over your title, then you will need to take additional steps in your job search documents to mitigate the potential negative perceptions or misperceptions surrounding that title.

If you need help figuring out how deal with a creative or vague title – or even a title that simply doesn't align with the realities of your role – on your resume, shoot me an email. I can help.