Weird Job Titles: The Year in Review

Weird and wonderful job titles have been making headlines for some time now. The tech world in particular provides a rich source of exotic monikers applied to jobs that might otherwise sound a bit less thrilling. Few companies may have a Security Princess like Google, or a “Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence” as Microsoft once did, but it’s not unheard of to spot jedis, ninjas, gurus, mavens, overlords, dynamos, vigilantes and superheroes popping up in the job listings.

Nor is it just a tech phenomenon: For instance, last year we spotted a “duct cleaning ninja” job on Indeed. Alas, while weird job titles can sound fun and may help communicate a company’s culture, they also cause confusion among job seekers and prevent employers from getting relevant candidates. When was the last time you searched for a job with “shaman” in the title, for instance? It’s more effective to be clear and use the terms job seekers are searching for when writing job descriptions.

We’ll talk more about best practices later in this post. For now, let’s crunch some numbers and take a look at the state of weird job titles in 2017.

Identifying the most popular weird job titles today

First we identified the most common weird job titles in the US. Given the many choices on offer, which terms would rise to the top among recruiters posting jobs online?

It turns out that the top five are: “genius”, “guru”, “rockstar”, “wizard”, and “ninja” — a combination of words suggesting deep thought and insight, showbiz levels of charisma, magic and…er…assassination.

Having established the champions of eccentric job titles we next asked: how do they stack up against each other?

As the chart shows, the rising star of 2017 was, appropriately enough, “rockstar” which has shown 19% growth since 2015 and finished first. Guru followed close behind, although it has lost popularity since its peak in early 2016, declining by 21%.

Most striking was the steep drop in “ninja” postings in the second half of 2017. After sustaining a steady climb since the middle of 2016, the demand for stealthy assassins has declined by 35% since its peak in March 2017.

Meanwhile, geniuses have pursued a slow but assured ascent since 2016, growing by 82.5% since 2015, almost to the point where they outperform ninjas. The continuing popularity of Harry Potter aside, “Wizard” job titles show less dramatic movement. It would seem that magic just isn’t that much in demand.

Where the wild job titles are

Next we decided to take a look at the geography of weird job titles. Although the media focuses on the eccentric titles coming out of Silicon Valley, the reality is that this phenomenon has long since spread beyond the wold of tech and across the country.

In fact, weird job titles today are more concentrated outside of California. From Idaho to Utah, recruiters seem keen to jazz up their job titles with terms such as “rockstar,” “guru” and “wizard”—with Oregonians being especially enthusiastic. By contrast, plain speaking New Yorkers “keep it real” and…

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