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5 Bullshit Job Titles And What They Really Mean

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Guys, I get it. Your job sucks, and when you tell people what you do for a living, they immediately know it sucks, too. When you talk to a girl at a bar, the last thing you want–besides realizing she won’t sleep with you–is to remember how excruciating your weekdays are. So what do you do? Give yourself a fancy title. Your job still eats away at your soul, but at least people don’t know it.

1. Account Manager

This might be the most egregious title on this list, which is why I couldn’t wait. I had to get it out of the way first. Account managers are salesmen, plain and simple. They cold call, pester people, and then do their best to not fuck up when they manage to get a client on board. I have nothing against sales as a concept, other than the fact that 90 percent of people in sales are total dickbirds. It takes a very particular type of person to spend his or her entire day talking to beleaguered people who would rather not deal with him or her. I suppose it also requires a certain type of bravery, but it necessitates an attitude that doesn’t exactly lend itself to kindheartedness.

The poor man’s version of this job is the sap with six dogs who works at a calling center, which raises money for nonprofits. The rich man’s version is some sort of national sales representative with dozens of big money clients. The middle of the road? The account manager. Notice that the fat cat sales guy actually puts “sales” in his job title. The 26-year-old who wears a cheap polo and khakis and spends more time in the break room talking about “taming some strange” over the weekend than he does doing his job? That’s an account manager.

2. Executive Assistant

It’s kind of hard to complain about this one, because many of my friends are assistants and I know how much that job can blow on a daily basis. If you’re an assistant, just own it. To the uninitiated, the executive assistant title implies that you are the president of the assistant corps at a large company. The fact that you are just the assistant to the CFO is significantly less impressive. If you answer the phones for the assistant director of HR, you’re not an executive assistant. And if you’re the assistant to the CEO, then you probably don’t need to hear this, because your résumé already says “Assistant to the CEO” on it, like it damn well should.

3. Vice President

Sorry to all you vice presidents out there who aren’t reading this column, since this site doesn’t really target your age demographic. The reality is that this little rant is more for those poor souls who have to deal with a vice president on a daily basis. Look, I get it, these people worked hard to get to where they are, but the title often makes them absolutely insufferable, in spite of the fact that they often wield very little influence. One thing that you never hear in business classes is how utterly powerless the role of vice president is in comparison to what it sounds like. When we hear vice president, we think “of the United States,” a job that–while also less important than you’d think–is basically the second in command of the country. Guess what? A corporate vice president isn’t the number two. Not by a laughable longshot. In fact, there are often dozens of vice presidents, some of whom are in charge of things so nebulous that I’m convinced they don’t actually do anything on a day-to-day basis. Hell, I’ve worked at companies where department directors have more power than some of the vice presidents. That’s right, the VP title often has less power than a “lower class” position. Hilarious.

4. Data Analyst

When I hear the term “analyst,” I think of an expert in a particular region of the globe who works for the CIA. This person gives briefings to field agents as they prepare to destabilize the government of a banana republic. I think of Jack Ryan before Hollywood turned him into a boring, characterless superhero, just like they did with Riggs and McClane. Even in the context of the civilian world, you think of the analyst as the smart guy with the folder of information that will turn the company around. What you don’t think of is that an analyst is someone who did pretty well in stats and now spends most of his or her day cranking through spreadsheets that his or her supervisor might open, but might not consider at all. Analysts basically compile information for the off chance that the higher ups need it. Even when that miracle happens, every meeting I’ve witnessed involving the advanced metrics from the analyst group has closed with either deciding to go a different way “in spite of the numbers” or seeing the data used as a club to pound everyone else with the viewpoint that particular executive already had.

5. Branding Specialist

When did marketing people decide marketing wasn’t a good enough term for what they do? Probably whenever they came up with the concept of branding. Here’s how the conversation probably went.

“Okay, check this out. People think we don’t carry as much weight around here as those making business and product decisions. So let’s champion the idea of ‘branding.’ ”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a bullshit, esoteric way of repackaging the concept of marketing. By making it so ethereal and impossible to define, we make ourselves more valuable as the whisperers of it.”

“Sounds awesome. Where do we start?”

“We start with us. Just like we’ll do with the whole company, we’ll establish our brand. As specialists of branding, we won’t fundamentally change anything about what we do–but it’ll look like we totally reinvented ourselves.”

“Ah, I see. And then we do the same for the whole company by convincing consumers that our company represents an idea, philosophy, or lifestyle, rather than a substandard line of products compared to our much more impressive competitors?”

“Now you’re getting it!”

See? Utter bullshit.

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Randall J. Knox

Randall J. Knox (known colloquially to his friends as "Knox") left his native Texas a few years ago, and moved to Los Angeles in his '03 Buick Regal named LeRoi to write movies with his jackass college buddies. His favorite things in life include bourbon that's above his pay grade, mix CDs, and Kevin Costner films. He isn't sure what "dad jeans" are exactly, but he knows he wants a pair.

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