The days of following a career path that went something like this—entry level, supervisor, manager, director, VP, CEO— are over. Aside from the fact that today’s version of career development commonly involves a number of lateral moves (within and between companies); many positions, and the titles that go with them, have changed.
Inspired by this tweet from @Harjeet and the resulting Twitter stream, I decided to see what could be discovered about some of the many emerging job titles that have appeared in recent years. They range from the obscure to the bizarre, and yet some hit the evolving workplace nail right on the head.
1. Big Data Engineer
Data Scientists have been around for a long time, but in the past decade data has grown up to be “big data” with all its mind-blowing potential. This has sent the demand for Big Data Engineers skyrocketing. Alex Woodie, writer for Datanami, describes today’s data engineer as “the all-purpose everyman of a big data analytics operation, working between downstream analysts on the one hand, and upstream data scientists on the other. They will often come from programming backgrounds, and are experts in big data frameworks, such as Hadoop. They’re called on to ensure that data pipelines are scalable, repeatable, and secure, and can serve multiple constituents in the enterprise.”
2. Chief Brand Listener
A cross between social media expert and data scientist, a Chief Brand Listener is responsible for monitoring and analyzing what’s being said about the brand across all media and sharing those messages with the appropriate people in marketing, customer services, sales, etc. This role reflects the reality of today’s marketing dialogue. Social media has turned traditional one-way marketing conversations into a sereies of ongoing interactions that put much more power into the hands and voices of consumers. Companies who don’t listen and respond can experience rapid erosion of their brands.
3. Community Manager
We’re not talking about a town councilor, mayor or city administrative official here. According to freshgigs.ca, the following skills are required of a successful Community Manager:
- be a social media power user,
- create epic content
- listen to users and speak to users to evangelize the brand.
LinkedIn lists thousands of Community Manager jobs and it looks like this position will be around for a while.
4. Digital Nomad
We call these people remote workers, contingent workers or free-lancers, but digital nomad sounds so much sexier! Forbes defines digital nomads as “professionals who prefer a location-independent lifestyle that allows them to travel and work anywhere in the world.” Regardless of what we call them, or they call themselves, the era of the Digital Nomad is only just beginning.
5. Director, Demand Generation
Many things go into demand generation—data analytics and management, online search, webinars, product demos, content marketing, referral programs, affiliate programs, etc. The key responsibility of a Demand Generation role is generating more and better leads for the sales team. As marketing and sales have evolved, specific roles within the marketing/sales continuum have taken on greater importance. Demand Generation roles are among those identified as critical in a technology driven online marketing environment.
6. Director of First Impressions
Creative new job titles are not restricted to startups and technology companies. A quick search on Indeed.com shows 614 job openings for Director of First Impressions. There is no question that the attitude of a receptionist or first point of contact in an organization can set the tone for all future interactions. This new spin on an old title serves to highlight the importance and impact of a traditionally under-appreciated role.
7. Growth Hacker
Wikipedia defines growth hacking as “a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.” When I asked a local tech CEO to describe what the role of Growth Hacker entails, he described it in terms of attitude rather than actions: growth hackers embody creativity and persistence in finding new ways to reach and connect with target audiences.
8. Happiness Advocate
Anna Passanisi, author of Happiness Advocacy, Or, How Positive Psychology Will Save Us From Zombies believes “If MacGyver can stop a bomb with a toothpick, we can save the world with happiness.” While not aiming to save the world, some organizations are definitely seeking to make cultural change by redefining customer service, support and certain internally facing roles as Happiness Advocates for their respective constituents. The job description? Be whimsical, spread joy, help people be happier – what’s not to love?
Okay, so this one hasn’t really caught on, but I still hear it mentioned by startup CEOs desperate for multi-talented people who can turn their hand to whatever needs doing. An omnificator is the modern equivalent of a Boy (or Girl) Friday minus the political incorrectness and with a strong technical bent.
10. Scrum Master
Why be a project manager when you can be a scrum master? According to whatis, a scrum master is the “facilitator for a product development team that uses scrum, a rugby analogy for a development methodology that allows a team to self-organize and make changes quickly. The scrum master manages the process for how information is exchanged.” If the position being advertised or sought involves only this process, the title Scrum Master makes sense—if broader project management expertise is required, maybe not so much.
11. Social Media Ninja
Yes, there are job postings looking for Social Media Ninjas. One such job posting asks:
“Do you have thousands of likes on your Facebook page? Do people get excited at your latest Instagram post? Do people flock to your Pinterest page to learn about your latest craft interest?
If the answer is YES, then we want to hear from YOU!”
Apparently, people like to be Ninjas, even if their awesomeness is confined to social media. As of January 2013, no less than 21,876 LinkedIn, Twitter and other profiles of self-professed Social Media Ninjas existed online.
12. Technology Evangelist
A technology evangelist “inspires businesses and individuals through interaction, content creation and communication about a technology. The end goal of the evangelist…is to inspire and hopefully convert the audience.” There is definitely some overlap between the Community Manager, the Technology Evangelist and the Social Media Ninja. Given the emergence of various roles that focus on communicating, creating community and building trust with target audiences, it seems likely that the essence of the Evangelist, in one form or another, will continue to be part of our working landscape.
Not The Last Word on Creative Job Titles
Opinions vary when it comes to imaginative new job titles. Recruiters recommend sticking to the tried and true to avoid being tossed by applicant tracking systems that likley won’t include creative job titles among the keywords they search for. On the other hand, many companies have embraced more playful titles for the energy and motivational boost they provide. Freddie Campion (self-titled Engagement Editor), has even created this online creative title generator to help those having trouble coming up with their own unique monikers (does anyone know what he meant by “Tinder Officer?”)
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Photo Credit: Image by nokhoog buchachon, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
 Alex Woodie, Rise of the Big Data Engineer http://www.datanami.com/2014/09/08/rise-big-data-engineer/
 Advertising Age, Irena Slutsky, ‘Chief Listeners’ Use Technology to Track, Sort Company Mentions http://adage.com/article/digital/marketing-chief-listeners-track-brand-mentions/145618/
 Forbes, How to Succeed at Becoming a Digital Nomad. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2014/03/19/tips-for-becoming-a-successful-digital-nomad/
 Phil Fernandez, Emergence of Demand Generation Role Drastically Alters Marketing Landscape. http://blog.marketo.com/2011/05/emergence-of-demand-generation-role-drastically-alters-marketing-landscape.html
 Michael Sheehan, What is a Technology Evangelist? http://www.hightechdad.com/2013/08/28/what-is-a-technology-evangelist/