Rock Star, Jedi Labels Help In Landing Job – If…

Ever see online ads calling for an IT rock star, ninja, Jedi, mighty eagle or kingpin? They’re designed to serve as code words for only “A” players need apply.

Recruiters claim these unconventional and unusual job titles, along with colorful headlines, help them stand out in a sea of advertisements and, more importantly, attract hot candidates.

“Companies typically advertise for ninjas when they need a really innovative, outside-the-box thinker,” says Jenn Tran, technology trainer for CyberCoders, a nationwide recruiting firm based in Irvine, Calif. “Creative job titles actually do attract strong candidates because you have to be pretty confident to call yourself a rock star.”

Top dog, Superstar or Just Plain Joe

“Whatever you want to call yourself is fine with me, just be sure you back it up in your resume,” said Colin Peterson, senior recruiter with Venator Ventures, a boutique recruiting firm based in American Fork, Utah.

Peterson says HR professionals might be put-off by bold claims or non-traditional job titles, while IT recruiters usually zero in on a candidate’s project experience and technical skills, so it’s still a good idea to tailor your brand and resume toward your audience.

“As long as you present your skills accurately and tailor your brand and image toward the audience and job description, there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a ninja or Jedi,” says Tran.

However, to make sure your resume is selected by recruiters during keyword searches, list your real job title in parenthesis and be sure to provide a brief description of your technical skills and projects. Be careful about using profanity or potentially offensive language to describe your attributes or previous positions because you never know when your resume may end up on an executive’s desk.

Frank Nuessel, a language professor at the University of Louisville and author of  “The Study of Names,” warned in an interview with The Boston Globethat holders of quirky titles should be careful that the job description doesn’t provide an exaggerated sense of what they do.

“Your business card is a projection of you as a person,” Nuessel said. “If you give yourself a pompous job title, that’s going to go with you.’”

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9 Responses to “Rock Star, Jedi Labels Help In Landing Job – If…”

  1. Judy Morris

    I’m glad to see these names used in recruiting so that I know what companies to avoid. I have a strong dislike for the “rock star” culture. I prefer to work as part of a team full of professionals working together toward a business (or technical) goal. Let the rock stars, jedi, and ninja be more concerned with wowing everyone, while the rest of us get work done.

  2. Fred Bosick

    I agree with you, Judy. But it seems companies are *asking* for such people. I find it interesting that merely specifying ninja, superhero, etc. is supposed to flush the A-listers out of the woodwork. Seems to me that anyone who adopts these titles is exceptional in self promotion. No guarantee of anything else.

    A cynical interpretation is that the companies want young people who just finished watching Saturday morning cartoons, who don’t mind long hours and haven’t yet matured into professionals and complete humans who have taken on enough responsibility to require a reasonable salary.

    Another problem is that you can’t staff a company with rock stars and ninjas. There simply aren’t enough of them. The vast majority of students in a dojo, or a teen noodling on his 2nd hand Stratocaster, will never achieve renown. And that’s OK!

    Companies need to develop the farm team because hiring free agents is expensive.

    • jcpopescu

      That is it exactly.

      One reason the “farm teams” aren’t being developed is it costs resources. It takes man hours to have a senior level guy mentor an entry level. Then, once trained, there’s the reality the company has increased the trainee’s job marketplace commodity value. Suddenly they’ve taken a 30K/year guy and made him worth 60K /year or more.

      In my opinion this is part of what’s wrong in tech. You can NOT simply take anyone and plug them into a job expecting instantaneous results.

      I don’t care if you claim to be a rockstar, ninja, guru, or other kind of self aggrandisement the fact is there has to be some input resources invested by the employer to the end of creating a competent employee.

      Quite frankly it’s been my experience, as well as that of a previous employer of mine, that claiming to be a “rockstar” suggests a great deal of immaturity and arrogance that can kill a job offer dead in it’s tracks.

  3. TopCoder

    I graduated with a masters degree from a top 5 computer science department and have won a number of coding competitions. If I see “rockstar” or “jedi” in a job title I will not apply. Not interested in a joke job.

  4. J. Spencer

    I agree with Judy. Sounds like we have too many twenty-something pinhead greenhorns working in HR staff these days. I certainly get that impression from some of the technical call center staff I speak with at major companies. Most don’t know how to do their job, don’t know beans about tech stuff, are fresh out of school and incompetent to boot. If UNPROFESSIONAL is the new NORM, maybe I should get purple Liberty spikes for my next interview.

    BEAM ME UP SCOTTY!! (Wait that’s a sci-fi reference, too.)

  5. jcpopescu

    My first reaction to “job listings” using terms such as “rockstar”, “ninja”, “jedi” or similar is a lot of immaturity, unrealistic expectations, unprofessionalisim, or a workplace not far removed from a daycare center.

    For that reason I don’t waste time with them.

  6. Walk the walk

    I would hope that any PROFESSIONAL HR person worth his bachelor’s degree would avoid such cultural phraseology in their solicitations. It’s clear from the comments posted here, including the ones that were censored (deleted) for no particular reason, that professionals find this offensive.

    My concern is that the twenty-somethings that are creating these ads in some HR firms are also the same ones making the hiring decisions to hire such immature personnel. They will likely reap what they sow when they hire narcissistic self-obsessed people who think of themselves as rock stars and ninjas, and expect other team members to kowtow to them. Good luck with that.

    Then again, if the is the NEW NORMAL, maybe I should go to my next interview in purple Liberty Spikes, a T-shirt and sandals. Isn’t that what rock stars wear?

    BEAM ME UP SCOTTY. That’s my cultural reference for this.

  7. Judy Morris

    I’m reminded a bit of way back when my first employer was just getting into relational databases. My boss was trying hard to recruit a few guys he heard were leaving a consulting firm we sometimes worked with. He was all starry-eyed over the guy with five years of experience. I said “Bob, in 5 years, WE will all have 5 years of experience.” Sure – get the guy who has been at it for a little while – we need the experience to blend with our own. But don’t get so starry-eyed over it that you forget your own people who have already proven themselves and are ready and willing to learn more.