“Ninja” is the latest fad to try and describe a person’s job skills. The problem: Well, What is a Ninja, anyway? Cat’s not sure herself – but she’ll tell you what it’s not. Watch the video, or read our story here.
April 28, 2010 at 3:49 am, Patrick said:
Ninja is most definitely NOT a job title. And I wish people would stop using it that way. A ninja is a practitioner of ninjutsu. Sure, they’re skilled, but so are many other people out there. Why not use the word “Spartan?” (Well, when not referring to a graduate of Michigan State University) Or the word “planet?” Sometimes I worry about this downward trend in logic.
May 02, 2010 at 12:43 am, dra9onboy said:
The term ninja is what you call your fellow Systems Administrators and Engineers, no way is a Level 1 tech a ninja, he’s known as an IT grasshopper. Hiyaaaaaa
May 06, 2010 at 12:22 am, jay said:
was that the Wu-Tang symbol on her right wrist… haha that’s awesome…
btw, 15 years in the field, consulting at a dozen or so different companies… i’ve never heard anyone call each other a ninja. i’ll go crawl back under my rock now..
May 06, 2010 at 12:39 am, wayne said:
You can thank the people that decided “Black belt’ was the cool term to use for Six Sigma grads. That is the driver for using martial arts terms for business use. (And yes, I think the Six Sigma term equally dumb)
May 06, 2010 at 1:16 am, Drachen said:
Ninjas were spies for hire, as well as assassins. That would make their major job skill: “not being seen”. Indeed, the mythos that grew around them claimed that the best ninjas could make themselves invisible. So, maybe “ninja” is not a good modifier for your skill set. Invisibility won’t help get you many interviews besides the ones for super-heroes or super-villains.
May 06, 2010 at 2:10 am, Sean said:
At my university we have computer lab technicians who fix every range of computer issues. They are ninjas and have been since 2002. It is because they sneak into labs, stealthy and do not disrupt daily operations of the clients using the labs.
Their position description includes “other duties as assigned” and I have sent them on assassination missions.
Also you’re holding those weird plastic sword things backwards.
May 06, 2010 at 3:04 am, Jon said:
I see some employers using ninja and guru on job postings so it kind of goes both ways. It seems there is a lot of word masking going on and deception with employers especially in the economy we are in now. I think people are educated enough to handle a detail description of something. So employers should just spell out what they want instead of using childish jargon like ninja for what you are looking for in a candidate.
May 06, 2010 at 3:33 am, FF Fen said:
According to wikipedia, “A ninja or shinobi was a covert agent or mercenary of feudal Japan specializing in unorthodox arts of war. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, as well as open combat in certain situations. The ninja, using covert methods of waging war, were contrasted with the samurai, who had strict rules about honor and combat.”
“The ninja were stealth soldiers and mercenaries. Their primary roles were those of espionage and sabotage, although assassinations were also attributed to ninjas. In battle, the ninja could also be used to cause confusion amongst the enemy.”
Just the thing for an IT or R&D department. Sounds more like an M&A consultant.
May 06, 2010 at 5:01 am, Ninja Assassin said:
May 06, 2010 at 5:15 am, Chuck said:
Employers are a little guilty of this as well. Every time I see the term “rock star” used in an employment ad (ex. “seeking Java rock star,” or “PHP rock star,” etc.) I have to resist the urge to immediately move on to the next ad (but I have to keep reading, since I’m chronically unemployed). The whole “rock star” habit in employment ads rubs up against my long-standing annoyance about employers looking for someone who’s a social and cultural fit first, and then considering skills, work ethic, etc. later.
It seems like some employers are looking for people who try to convey some illusion of celebrity (I’ll withhold extra commentary about companies wishing to convey certain images). But along with that comes the misguided assumption that so-called celebrities don’t really have to do anything in order to profit — that they merely have to show up in order for the company to benefit (the recent emergence of those who are “famous for being famous” hasn’t helped). I’ve worked with people who have performed in successful local bands, and I know those people work their butts off — so I imagine that the myth of the “rock star” who rakes in the cash for lying on the couch all day just isn’t true.
I’m guessing the use of terms like “ninja” brings with it similar problems. A quiet, problem-solving internalizing type probably wouldn’t earn the title of “ninja” by onlookers, and might be hit with a few demerits on the social/cultural front, even though they’d have something to contribute in practical terms.
May 06, 2010 at 6:08 am, Bill said:
Why do pirates exist? Because ninjas allow them to.
Really though, I’d use ninja as a job title internally with friends, but never with superiors that I don’t know or with external clients.
May 06, 2010 at 6:18 am, chris said:
The problem with your story is that it is the recruiters or employers who are always looking for the “ninja”. I can’t imagine anyone putting that on their resume. I’m so tired of hearing that term (from employers). As soon as I hear it, I don’t even want to work there. A bit opposite from your scenario
May 06, 2010 at 7:44 am, Keith Brings said:
I do have to say that I much prefer Microsoft’s SDE/SDET acronyms or simply senior web application developer, lead software engineer etc over fairly old hacker terminology like code ninja or code-fu.
All that said though if I put “code ninja” on my resume I would consider hr companies throwing my resume out due to its presence as beneficial employer pre-screening on my part.
The possible job positions per exceptional developer ratio is still exceptionally in our favor. I’d suspect an employer that considers hiring code ninjas and masters of the dark assembly arts may just be a little more likely to have a less stifling work environment over some of the companies that would not.
May 06, 2010 at 7:57 am, Chandi said:
The only time its acceptable is probably when hiring Six Sigma candidates. Champions, Black Belts, Green Belts etc.
May 06, 2010 at 8:14 am, Paul said:
At NASA in the 60’s and 70’s, the engineers conferred a non-official title of “steely-eyed missle man” to an exceptional collegue. This term is probably more descriptive than the generic “ninja”, but is definitely not appropriate on a resume.
May 06, 2010 at 8:22 am, Bill said:
I generally agree. However some terms like ‘blackbelt’ do have meaning in certain realms. Don’t toss them all out.
I’m also tired of the requirement for numbers. You saved $1 million dollars? Prove it! You can’t and your old employer isn’t going to release the information. Prove you have a ‘blackbelt’ certification? Easy.
May 06, 2010 at 8:22 am, Kate Ackerly said:
Uh…. say whaaaat?
Sorry. I think of those massively idiotic flicks of the ’70’s, instantly roll my eyes and make warbling whistling sounds… you’ve gotta be kidding me!
I may be a 20 year veteran “grasshopper” (nudging dra9onboy with a grin), but, uh… I’ve had enough bosses that would think the very same thing.
“Hmm we’ve got a weirdo here, not in connection with reality.” *toss*
Well, that one was aimed at the newbies on the job market!
May 06, 2010 at 8:29 am, JMAC&) said:
Why tell people that are obviously that stupid that they are stupid?!?!?!?! That is how we weed out the Id10T’s.
May 06, 2010 at 8:30 am, Nobody@nobody.com said:
Complete gibberish; marketing rubbish. It’s pathetic!
Soke Masaaki Hatsumi is the only person who could claim to be a “real” ninja.
May 06, 2010 at 8:58 am, chuck said:
The problem isn’t that people but “ninja” and the like on their resumes. It’s that companies put it on their job opening advertisements. It’s everywhere. As a job seeker, I find it difficult to take a company seriously when they advertise that they’re looking for a “Ruby on Rails Ninja.” But I don’t know anybody who would put such nonsense on their resume. If anyone does, it’s probably because they noticed the fad in advertisements and are trying to cater to it.
May 06, 2010 at 9:21 am, George said:
Actually I used to work for a company where Marketing Ninja WAS a job title.
May 06, 2010 at 10:11 am, matt said:
In so far as it’s use as a descriptor of an individuals proficiency with some skill set, I suppose it has now replaced “Guru” which was somewhat dated .
As far as practitioners of ninjitsu, you can’t be a ninja in 2010, as it is an anachronism. The term is relevant only to it’s historic context in feudal Japan. Practicing ninjitsu, and wearing period costume makes you a historical reenactor, in the same way that donning civil war uniforms and practicing 19th century infantry maneuvers does. Let’s keep it real.
May 06, 2010 at 10:31 am, Edo said:
Excellent articles, and Cat Miller is really great!
May 06, 2010 at 11:38 am, Bob said:
Have people really seen legit resumes with the word Ninja as a title? Unbelievable!
You only get a few words to try to sell yourself and they’d better be as effective as possible.
Unless you’ve got money to burn.
May 07, 2010 at 1:01 am, JR said:
Um, so I guess “wizard” would really date me, huh?
May 07, 2010 at 1:14 am, Skand said:
May 07, 2010 at 5:19 am, Jason said:
Do people really use that term on a resume? WTF? That’s as silly as guru and evangelist. If you actually know how to do the job and can provide quantitative data on your resume, you don’t have to use goofy buzzwords like ninja.
May 07, 2010 at 9:24 am, Jeff said:
I am feeling old. The people in this video are really young.
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