Happiness Supervisor. Customer Support Shepherd. These are just some of the quirky/asinine job descriptions candidates encounter when they start searching for employment in StartupLand. While these titles might be a startup’s attempt to stand out from traditional job postings, “disrupting” the employment ad isn’t doing them any favors. Potential candidates are more likely to shake their head in amazement than jump at the chance to apply for a vacant position. Imagine telling your parents you just landed a gig as Head of Happiness at a startup company? They might be more inclined to tell you to cut back on the weed than congratulate you on your new career. Whether you’re a startup CEO or head of talent acquisition, there are a number of startup employment terms you need to lose right now. Use caution before reading this list; you might end up having to rewrite a number of your current job descriptions.
Whether you’re advertising for an operations ninja, a support ninja, or a Q&A ninja, chances are reputable candidates are going to give your ad a pass. The first thing that comes to mind is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Who wants that connotation added to their job description? If you wouldn’t introduce yourself as a ninja at a networking event, why would you think that title is going to impress potential candidates?
Wizard is just about as bad as ninja. Unless the employment opportunity comes with a complimentary conical hat and magical wand, lose the wizard title on your career postings.
Unless you want candidates to show up for interviews wearing nothing but a head scarf and a toga, leave the term guru off your job titles. Anyone brazen enough to use the term in their Twitter or LinkedIn profile instantly ups their smarmy quotient by a factor of 10. If you don’t want your startup’s name to automatically have a negative connotation in candidates’ minds, lose the guru term.
If the employment opportunity comes with KISS face paint and a wicked guitar, feel free to use the term rock star in your job postings. If this isn’t the case, you’re better off focusing on the skills you hope your dream candidate possesses. Using rock star in your startup’s career postings conjures up images of a 20-something CEO out of touch with current employment trends like diversity and socially conscious company behaviors.
Saddling your startup troop with labels like ninjas, rock stars, and wizards leaves others with the distinct impression you’re still wet behind the ears when it comes to professional business behavior. Unless you plan to conduct the majority of your business affairs in the pub with the boys, it is best to adopt more professional labels when embarking on a tech talent search. Hiring a guru is great if customers will climb to a mountaintop to seek wisdom from your startup; if that’s not the case you might want to opt for job titles your customers will actually understand.