As a small business grows, one of those unforeseen responsibilities is the creation of job titles. If you are using an online job recruiting service like or CareerBuilder, the first thing you’ll discover on your quest for coming up with a job title is that there are literally tens of thousands of them. It’s as if each company in the world has decided to come up with a custom title for jobs. The result is a glossary of titles so confusing that no one knows exactly what anyone does. (We’re guessing this is a tactic to make it hard for headhunters to easily poach job candidates.)

Sometimes, a title will have a strategic purpose. For example, if your typical prospect is a VP of Buying, then perhaps you need a person with the title, VP of Selling. Today, however, most standard positions of hierarchy have no universal understanding that translate easily from one business into another.

Outcome-oriented job titles

While clever or fun titles can be appropriate for some companies=–a web design firm, for example–clever or fun titles aren’t appropriate for others, say, a mortuary or bank.

Only you can determine whether or not your company should stick with traditional titles or use clever trendy ones.  If you do head down the “clever” path, we’ll warn you, the following titles aren’t clever, they’re just dumb: ninja, guru, wizard, magician, warrior, badass, demi-god, thinker, inspirer. instigator. superstar, superhero, rockstar and, well, you get the idea.

Clever or traditional, there is one way you can approach job titles that will likely work well for both employees and customers, no matter what your field: Instead of functional titles (product manager), consider titles that convey the intended outcome of a person’s job (manager of product growth).

A functional title like “customer support representative” (which will inevitably be shorted to “rep,”) can be translated into an outcome title like “product use advisor.” Great outcome titles should communicate to both the employee and to your customers the importance and value of the role played by the employee.

Without being too cute, they can convey that your employees are unique and special.

Do you have an approach to job titles that works? Add it to the discussion below.

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