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Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
What's my line, again?

"Wanted: executary. Excellent remunerative package. Must have short hand."

Before the more ghoulish among you, particularly those with stubby fingers, put ink-delivery system to wood pulp communications product, this is not an advert for a job requiring the wearing of a black hood. HAVE YOUR SAY That, of course, would be a capital punishment operative.
Photocopier
Danger: Reprographics engineers at work!

Executaries take letters, arrange meetings, answer phones and buy presents for their bosses' spouse and children at short notice. Just the sort of things secretaries used to do, and for the same money too.

A UK recruitment company has found employees will forego a swelling of their pay packet provided their dull job titles get some padding out.

Among the "professionalised" positions suggested in the survey are "voice data executive" (telephonist), "data storage specialist" (filing clerk) and "office logistics co-ordinator" (postroom worker).

Giving people fancy job titles is really just cosmetic. It's only a short-term boost to an employee's morale.

Professor Michael West

Should the cup of tea brought to you by the "catering supervisor" get spilled on the fabric weave floor covering , never fear, call the "hygiene supervisor".

Read your views on "professionalised" positions

The 70% of us ready to indulge in a bit of job title tinkering may well be doing ourselves a disservice, says Professor Michael West, an organisational psychologists at Aston University's business school.

More than a name

"Giving people fancy job titles is really just cosmetic. It's only a short-term boost to an employee's morale. You habituate to the new name in a few days and the concession soon seems less important."

Professor West, who has studied the direct link between employee happiness and companies' profitability, says there are more important issues to be addressed.
Vacuum cleaner
Cleaning up: Environment technician

Job security, autonomy and opportunities for development and growth all score above job titles as ways to improve the level of satisfaction among workers.

"Employees also gain long-term job satisfaction if they get the sense they are valued and cared for in their workplace," says Professor West.

The world's human resources, human capital or plain-old personnel managers should know the risks before faffing with job titles.

Job snob

Some 70% of the 1,500 employees quizzed for the survey felt job title "snobbery" caused friction in the workplace.

Any shift in job titles could also make scanning the positions vacant pages even more miserable and render the "management-speak" which has invaded our work "environment" even more impenetrable.

Dear sir, I hereby resign as digital data executive...

Another recent survey found one in five workers couldn't get their heads around most of what was said in the office.

Should we be "customer focused" or "consumer oriented"? Can you trust you "line manager" over your "career mentor"? Are you a "human asset" or "corporate talent"?

Despite all the buzzwords in our "new economy", one things remains certain, a spiffy new job title won't pay the bills.


Have you got a grand sounding job title? Would you be fobbed off with a flashy name instead of a payrise? What's the most incongruous "professionalised" position you've ever heard?

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Your views on "professionalised" positions:

Our local bin-men call themselves the cleansing operative. The cleaners at my office are referred to as the broom engineers. One of my colleagues is known as the managers' go-for. I'm a data manipulator. Back home I'm Mum.
Hazel, UK

TITLE: Cadaver Disposal Facilitator
MEANING: Gravedigger

And ... not a job, but actually seen printed on a metal drum in a fish-and-chip shop:

TERM: Food Frying Medium
MEANING: Cooking Oil

Phil Taylor, UK



I never once came across a Bank Manager willing to lend me money on the back of a title. Go for the money!!

Roy Chapman, UK/Germany
For 12 years I worked for the same company and saw my title change six times, from Junior to a full blown Technical Support Manager. Each stage was accompanied by a new grade of company car (i.e. increased company car tax), but little or nothing in the way of money.
Nowadays I couldn't care less about the title, I never once came across a Bank Manager willing to lend me money on the back of a title. Go for the money!!
Roy Chapman, UK/Germany

The most amusing job title I have ever come across is "Ecological Operator" for someone employed in public cleansing. I thought it was rather inflated, but amusing!
Germaine, Malta



The people who make the 8 to 10 absolutely standard sandwiches are called Sandwich Artists.

Ian Elsley, UK
In the US there is a chain of sandwich shops called Subway, where the people who make the 8 to 10 absolutely standard sandwiches are called Sandwich Artists. The unfortunate thing is that it's so pathetic.
Ian Elsley, UK

Call me what you want as long as you pay me for it.
Mark, Scotland

Well, I have heard Garbage men being called Sanitary engineers and housewives, Domestic Engineers. I guess as an aspiring Writer I am an apprentice Wordsmith or keyboard technician?
Pat van der Veer, A Brit in Canada



I am now a Director of Hygiene at a famous Chinese restaurant - basically a dishwasher.

Erik Lam, UK
I failed my A-levels and lost a place to LSE to study economics. I am now a Director of Hygiene at a famous Chinese restaurant - basically a dish washer - the title makes a big difference to my self-esteem, especially when I put it on my CV.
Erik Lam, UK

Some title inflation reaches the point where titles are not only meaningless, but vague. Does anyone know what an "Information Manager" is supposed to do?
Johnboy, USA

I spent some time in Brighton as a Highway Cosmetic Maintenance Technician one summer as a student. Yes I was a Street Sweeper. What a load of rubbish! That being said if people prefer being a "executary" as opposed to a secretary for the same money and job duties then who am i to argue they are being foolish even if that is my opinion. I get paid to do my job and it's the duties of that job that make the pay not the title
Mike, UK

My first job as a young graduate had a dual role with the title "Spares Inventory Control and Profitability Development Officer" (!) in a business supplying engine components world-wide. The worst part was trying to get the title to fit into tiny spaces allowed on application forms.
Rob, UK

Personally, I think the term "administrator" is awful. It's just a name for a glorified secretary. I worked at a certain university where all the secretaries were renamed administrators. I think that secretaries actually have better skills than administrators such as shorthand and touch-typing, because where I worked most people typed with two fingers and couldn't organise their way out of a paper bag!
Suzey, UK



Give me money and call me a computer dweeb.

Collin, Canada
I would take the money any day of the year. I am a "Computer Field Service Engineer" in short, I do Windows. I also replace the odd piece of hardware. Whoop dee doo. Give me money and call me a computer dweeb.
Collin, Canada

I know of at least one CEO who has an Email address of god@?????????.com. Can't get much more grandiose than that.
Anon, UK

One has to consider that "title swelling" is just another ruse by management and employers to keep a poorly motivated staff in line. It smacks of "let them eat cake" - and panders to the majority of employees inner wish to be more important than they are. All this while bosses are awarding themselves the big pay rises! This is another example of the growing disparity between the governing class and the "rest of us"...That bosses can think we are so inconsequential and stupid as to be satisfied with empty titles rather than financial compensation.
Steve Beat, UK

I once had a card through the door advertising a new service from a firm of Vision Technicians. This turned out to be a firm of Window Cleaners!!
Brendan Gibbs, England

I am a facilities supervisor, which in actual fact is a toilet cleaner. The job title covers the obvious embarrassment I would normally suffer, but after failing my degree I accepted what is in fact a rewarding and stimulating career
Ajit Rehal, U.K

I used to work for a US Bank. Those yanks love a good title. I was promoted from Assistant Treasurer (the lowest "officer" grade) to Assistant Vice President and would have made Vice President if the bank wasn't taken over. Sounds impressive, but when everyone else has the same title it makes it a bit meaningless.
Paul, UK

No way... A fancy title means nothing. I would rather feel the benefit where it counts, in my pocket.
Matt Law, UK

When several of us were promoted to "Principal Specialist", I would explain that as there should be ONE principal, collectively we might be called "a lack of principals".
Steve, England

Where I last worked every one seemed to be called "executive director" to supposedly give a good external impression. I think it just diluted what the title is supposed to indicate and make some people into frustrated prima donnas. All title and no position!
It's got more to do with making your CV look good for your NEXT job than doing well in your current one. Think on employers - show me the money or I'll show you the door!
Gordon Joseph, UK

If you become a permanent employee at a certain City bank invariably you are all given the title "Assistant Vice President." There are a few thousand of them in London, from Managers to Secretaries.
Can't say, UK

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03 Apr 00 | Business
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29 Oct 99 | Business Basics
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