A cure for the common job title

November 28, 2011: 10:08 AM ET

Manager of this, vice president of that -- yawn. A maker of business cards spots a spate of colorful monikers like Sales Ninja, Web Kahuna, and Head Cheese.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- It's the latest tactic in the quest to create a compelling personal brand: Abandoning traditional job titles in favor of more descriptive -- or at least eye-catching -- ways to sum up a job.

"Our research shows that people are trying to stand out more when sharing contact information," says Paul Lewis, head of marketing at business card printer Moo.com. "Titles like Web Designer or Digital Advisor are no longer enough to grab attention, so Web Kahuna or Digital Dynamo may work better. We're also seeing a dramatic rise in gurus, geeks, and captains."

You're a copywriter? Ho-hum. You could dub yourself Word Herder or Copy Cruncher instead.

Lewis traces the trend to the influence of social media. People are looking to "socialize" their professional personae, he says, "adding personal flair commonly associated with social media profiles."

A sampling of unusual titles Moo.com has seen lately:

  • Sales Ninja
  • New Media Guru
  • Linux Geek
  • Word Herder
  • Social Media Trailblazer
  • Corporate Magician
  • Master Handshaker
  • Communications Ambassador
  • Copy Cruncher
  • Transportation Captain
  • Web Kahuna
  • Marketing Rockstar
  • Problem Wrangler
  • Digital Dynamo
  • Designer Extraordinaire
  • Head Cheese
  • Plumber Hero
  • Movie Magic Maker
  • Happiness Advocate

No false modesty here, which is fine: A business card is a marketing tool, after all. But it does raise a question. If you give yourself a title like Chief Excitement Officer, as one New York City public relations executive did, what happens on those days (everybody has them) when you're just not feeling it? Can a Happiness Advocate ever sing the blues?

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About This Author
Anne Fisher
Anne Fisher
Contributor, Fortune

Anne Fisher has been writing "Ask Annie," a column on careers, for Fortune since 1996, helping readers navigate booms, recessions, changing industries, and changing ideas about what's appropriate in the workplace (and beyond). Anne is the author of two books, Wall Street Women (Knopf, 1990) and If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? (William Morrow, 2001).

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