Job title inflation is out of control

Job title inflation is out of control. Mr X's job is to give "high-level strategy, corporate vision" to the suits at Fortune 500 clients of a US software vendor, and to do "orchestration of solution sales cycles". In other words he's a high-powered presales guy. His job title? Vice President. There was a time when a Vice President was the sidekick to the President. Now he's the sidekick to the salesman. I bet this is a salary-banding thing. Either that or corporate America has gone mad. Or both.

My satirical book Introduction to Real ITSM said

Now that “management” has come to mean anything that people do, and “governance” is used to mean what “management” was supposed to, this raises the small problem of what to call Real ITSM governance. So Real ITSM refers to reigning and sovereignty instead. [Note: there will be an issue when the King takes out the garbage, and managers are known as “gods”. What is next?]

Rob England
Celestial Deity
Two Hills Ltd

[Don't miss more great examples in the comments below!]


Job title inflation

It finally happened. I got a letter from someone who is "Chief Executive, Customer, Markets and Products". They report to the CEO.

Another job title inflation gem

This one staggered me:

Merrill Lynch are advertising for an Assistant Vice President, Senior C++ Developer (that's one job title). WTF? Truly out of control.

Not a big deal

In the financial services industry, VP and AVP titles are given out fairly easily. Long story, but its based on the heritage of the banking industry. You don't get into meaningful titles until you start hitting Director or Managing Director.

Every major industry is different. Even for the IT shops.


From @raesmaa on twitter:

I have worked under the GOD (Global Operations Director)

Reality is stranger than Real ITSM

Project manager

I worked once in a shipyard. There a project manager led the building of one ship, a couple thousand man-years or so.


Given the scale of that I

Given the scale of that I wouldn't be suprised if that man would be called a programme manager with several projects - one for each major component (e.g. hull, electrics, pirate flag)

project schedule administrator

"programme manager" only became required after "project manager" was debased to mean "project schedule administrator"


When I was a nipper engineers designed rockets and drove trains. Now they install printers.

Add to this a foreign language and things go even more awry

Here in Germany it is common for people to have english titles, as companies are global or adopt US management philosophies. Problem is, the majority here do not have a firm grip on what these titles actually mean. Either because of cultural differences or just plain lack of language skills.

A classic radio skit from a few years back was around a comedian calling an IT or media agency posing as a potential client, and making up job titles as he went along

"Can I speak to your first or second junk and trash cutter. However is available.."
Receptioninst: "Err..sure, hold on"
Sales guy: "hello"
Customer: "Is this the department of outgoing incomes?"
Sales guy: "Who are you looking for"
Customer: "The head of overdub loop coordination"
Sales guy: "Hold on, I'll connect you to HR"
Customer: "If he's not in, give me the boss, the Support and Product Senior Stylistic Supervisor"

The thing goes on for several minutes. Hilarious, but a very real problem here.

German advert

This advert would always reduce my German friends to tears of laughter

More language ads

We're off topic but what the hey

I enjoyed this one: (WARNING: offensive language, NSFW)


Thank you so much for this, it made my day.

Title Inflation

It's a simple matter of "Title in lieu of compensation". The business can't afford to give a pay raise to anybody less than Cxx, so they give a title increase.

Vice President

In the US titles are different to Tke UK and other countries, VP is a very common title in the US.

I also know of a well respected company that uses VP title to denote the role within the organisation as a trusted representative, one who represents the interests and contributes above their role. This designation has nothing to do with their role.

Titles have been useless for decades, it's what you do that counts, an no-one takes a titular demotion, I have worked at places where you have 3 titles, Title, Job title and Role title, where role title actually said what you did, but you could choose what you wanted to call yourself at dinner parties. :)


Its been out for a while

Titles have meant nothing for a long time..

Is a Dr a Dr is medicine, a veterinary doctor, a DDS or a Philosopher..

HR departments have been as confused as you can be for as long as I have been working on the difference between job role definition, pay grade and title.

While working in a Japanese company for a few years, its was alot easier. Shunin (Team Leader), Kacho (first level manager), Bucho, on and on for about 15 layers. But then they have the problem that HR is trying to solve. What do you call individual contributors in a society that only likes to pay managers higher salaries. What about combinations of subject matter skills and leadership.

So its spins out of control and you end up with the classic finance industry title of VP, Janitorial Services.

So net-net titles mean nothing unless that have attached to them the organization and a revered selection process for giving it to you. Nobel Lauriat maybe, or Dr MD (pick you ivy league)... They also generally have internal organizational significance and parity. You know a VP is a s&*t kicker in one organization and a god in another.

I ceased putting any form of title on my business card and use handing a business card as an introduction to discuss my role.

Brad Vaughan

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