A year or so ago, I met someone during a training seminar in Washington D.C., and she introduced herself as a Director of First Impressions. As a fellow Learning and Development professional, much of her job revolved around orientation and on-boarding new employees. She was bubbly, enthusiastic and kind – the type of girl who exhibited all the characteristics of what it means to Positively Sparkle. As we connected, I began to realize that her title was more than just a job. Being a Director of First Impressions was at the core of her identity, values and strengths, and it wasn’t just a title, it represented her purpose.
So what’s in a job title anyway? All of us seem to have job titles at work, and we tout them around even after hours– at networking events, at social happy hours, house parties, and family gatherings. They’re on our business cards, our email signatures, our name badges. Some of us find immense pride in our titles, others, not so much. In the corporate world, titles help us to establish hierarchy. We know that the letters C, or VP mean that you are a leader in the organization with significant impact. Some of us would say that our title represents exactly what our job functions entail, yet again, others, not so much. There are such a vast variety of job titles that even knowing which one to search for on online job posting boards requires intensive research. We mold our resumes to fit the job title and description, painstakingly researching keywords and applying relevant knowledge and experience to fit the “role”.
Yet, if a title is a representation of who we are and what we bring to the table, why shouldn’t we create our own? Several organizations have begun the process of letting employees choose their own job titles. At Berkshire Hathaway, there is a Director of Chaos. The IT department at Netflix are called NERDS, and the CEO of the Make a Wish Foundation is called the Fairy Godmother of Wishes.
People say that their self-created job titles help them to focus on the joyful parts of their job versus the hardships, and research shows that the titles provide self-verification, psychological safety and external rapport. Now while not all of us are going to be able to create our own job title at work, let’s take a moment to discover, just for ourselves, what would be our signature job title?
Mine would be: Sparkle Creator. Because I love creating experiences that delights, invigorates and brings joy to others. I seek to innovate on learning for leaders that spark positive change for people and organizations. My life purpose: to leave a little sparkle wherever I go.