You may say that the short line of text under the name on your business card is relatively unimportant. But that's what you think ...
"I get annoyed with anyone claiming to be an 'e' anything," said one IT manager at a large multinational company. While he wouldn't actually discard a CV with an 'e' in the job title, it would prompt him to put a red line through the name and quickly turn to the skills and experience section.
It's not that this man is anti-internet - he works with the web himself, and in his spare time provides venture capitalists with his opinions as to which new dotcom propositions are worth a punt. So what's his problem?
"Saying you're an 'ebusiness specialist' is a turn-off because it's essentially meaningless," he said. Whether he's recruiting staff or evaluating dotcoms, he's looking for solid technical knowledge and experience to back up the big ideas.
It's the lack of precision that is often the attraction of these titles - people working in and around dotcoms are keen to avoid restricting themselves to one narrowly defined role. Others, meanwhile, just enjoy zany job titles. Simon Banton, director of Uplift Consultancy Services, is a Perl programmer and webmaster but introduces himself as a 'concept engineer'. "With a world full of webmasters, I wanted to distinguish myself from the crowd," he said.
Recruitment agents are also contributing to the weird job title boom. Gerry Rockingham, manager for ebusiness recruitment at Progressive Computer Recruitment, has recently been advertising for 'e-dreamers', a title he admits he thought up as an attention-grabber. "'Dreamer' suggests a sexy job for someone with imagination. People will search the internet job ads by inputting salary, location and skills. I want to make sure mine's the one that catches their eye," he said.
The sort of companies for which Rockingham recruits don't attach much importance to job titles, but they are keen to attract people who not only have the right skills but who are also "a bit of fun". "These companies are relaxed and they'll let you call yourself whatever you want as long as you can do the job," he said.
Spreading the word
Outside the dotcom world, new-fangled titles seem to be on the increase, although they're not always popular with IT traditionalists. When one 'product evangelist' was given the chance to renegotiate his employment terms, he demanded to be re-badged as a plain old project manager.
Nick Rawls, meanwhile, is proud to be an 'ecommerce evangelist' with enterprise resource planning firm JD Edwards, as he believes his title conveys the idea of a message that needs to be communicated. "My job is to spread the word about the implications of ebusiness, both internally and externally," he said.
As well as education and marketing, his evangelism involves a lot of research, such as reading and attending seminars. "This is the fastest-moving field I've ever been in, and it's essential to keep up with developments. There's as much learning as teaching in the job," he said.
But will dubbing yourself an e-dreamer or e-vangelist put recruiters off when applying for a job with a more conventional IT outfit? Not necessarily, said Ellen Barnhoorn, director of human resources for Compuware Europe. "We realise that people working in ecommerce are entrepreneurial types, often with a sense of humour, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see an unfamiliar title," she said.
It's fine to put these titles on your CV, provided you also explain what you actually do. "If your current job is a senior web monkey, I'd certainly need to know a little more about it!" said Barnhoorn.
If in doubt though, just list the roles you have undertaken on your CV, and not the job titles. Despite all the controversy, however, some electronic job titles are here to stay, particularly if they actually represent new roles. 'Webmaster' no longer needs much explanation, although 'webmistress' still raises eyebrows among the uninitiated, according to one who rejoices in the title.
The name game: a new spin on job titlesWeb monkey Webmaster and general website developer
E-dreamer Imaginative website designer or developer
Pre-sales Java evangelist Sales support person
Chief people officer Personnel manager
Chief security officer The person on the door, perhaps?
Digital diva Female who encourages the use of the web
Domainatrix Female DNS administrator
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