I know it’s partly just a sign of the times. Start up fever and digital business founding is soaring, and the Instagram entrepreneur training schools are running rampant to fill late Millennial and Generation Z heads with illusions of multi-millionaire corporation building from a whiteboard sketch. But what I have noticed- and I guess you’d call it more of a pet hate, an industry niggle of mine if you will, rather than being a major issue – are some of the self-created job titles being used at the moment.
It seems that every other message I receive on LinkedIn these days is coming from a founder or a CEO, maybe even a CDO. That’s right CDO, Chief Data Officer apparently. Who ironically was trying to sell me some sort of very invasively acquired, demographic behaviour data.
It shouldn’t really bug me so much if a local plumber decides to stick a ‘CEO’ personal number plate on his Range Rover Sport, but I can’t help it, it kinda does. Let me put it into a more business viable perspective. For me a job title needs to reflect what it is you’re doing on behalf of the business. It helps people identify you as the right contact and it sets the expectations for communications between your partners, clients, customers etc. Being the ‘Founder’ doesn’t really say what it is you’re doing for the business, or what your role is. For all I know you were in the room when your mates had a great idea and you did the Go Daddy purchase for the domain you’d later be using.
The same goes with the CEOs of the start up world. Maybe it’s a motivational thing, a self confidence booster perhaps, but I can’t help finding it odd having a CEO when the business is effectively two guys with laptops sitting in a WeWork office in Clapham. In an official capacity, Director is probably the safest bet here? At least from a legal standpoint that’s probably where you sit. If you’re then focussing on the tech side, or the business development side etc, I’d argue it ‘s more useful to show this and better segment the roles within the business.
Keep things simple and don’t make the mistake of finding comfort in grand sounding job titles or making your new business appear larger or more successful than it is. Start up culture is here and there is a respect and understanding in the industry for what it takes to be a start-up or indeed a small business. The limited budget, the resourcing challenges etc. It doesn’t take away from your efforts or your work ethic. And if your LinkedIn job title is set to anything even closely related to ‘Serial Entrepreneur’, then please don’t try to connect with me. Instead, go sit in the corner with a hot drink and have a good hard think to yourself.