Last week I met a bloke I hadn’t seen since Mr Boyd was extenuating the linguistic joys of standard grade English. Our micro school reunion started with the obligatory question of, “So what are you up to these days?” Now I’m never proper sure whether this moment of truth is referring to how large my clan of children has grown to, or where I currently reside, or even whether I went to Tenerife or Tighnabruigh this summer for my hols. At this point I also start to realise that I am totally over analysing my old classmates simple yet inquisitive welcome. He is of course enquiring, “What do you do?” Although the answer to this question should be fairly straightforward the background to what you do and how you describe it is one I’m keen to explore through some brief playful prose.
What’s in a title?
I really struggled with this one when I first set up The Learning Lab 8 years ago. Intuitively true I could have went with MD or Owner or even Founder. I preferred to describe what I do rather than be defined by the title. I started to explore what other people were called in the world of work. Here are a few of the more creative and somewhat obscure ones I came across, accompanied by the more traditional variation:
Thinking Engineer – Life Coach
Genius – Technical Support as found in certain fruit themed tech stores
Crayon Evangelist – Graphic Designer
Cash Prophet – Financial analyst
Director Of Bean Counting – Company Head Accountant
TeaEO – CEO of a Tea company
Wizard Of Light Bulb Moments – Marketing Director
Head Cheese – MD of a Dairy Company
Bat Cave Scavenger – Fertilizer Collector
Whilst I might struggle to fully endorse the use of Bat Cave Scavenger on a CV, I do encourage more people, and indeed companies to describe the function rather than the title of roles. I found one pioneer describe themselves as a ‘Creative Solutionist’ – something I adore even more given the fact it’s not even a real word. I run with Question Your Possible, something I have to credit a ridiculously talented Crayon Evangelist with.
What to consider?
Of course the obvious challenge of this approach is that you need to be able to back up such a statement with qualifying experience. So be as clear and cliché free as possible, fewer people may want to connect on LinkedIn with a Sales Ninja. Focus on what you do and sell your capabilities through your description.
Utilising the explanatory as opposed to a title focused approach might not only help you give a more succinct description when you meet the 1991 Carrick Academy conker champion in Tesco Express, but may also give potential clients and colleagues a more accurate definition of your trade.
So what do you do? If you had to describe your role in no more than 4 words to place on a business card what would you go with?