Why Jobs Like 'Penetration Tester' And 'Tonsorial Artist' Are On The Rise

It’s work to name a job.
Peruse career and job listing sites and you might notice something peculiar: a slew of seemingly enticing-sounding job titles that you’ve never heard before.
Indeed, an analysis by FitSmallBusiness.com released this week found listings for such jobs as: tonsorial artist (a fancy name for a hairdresser or barber), ethical hacker or penetration tester (simply someone who makes sure tech is safe from hackers) and combat advisor (a video game designer who creates virtual combat sequences). And an analysis that FlexJobs.com did for Moneyish found dozens of titles with evangelist (code for salesperson) in them, including technology, design and policy evangelist; software quality and performance wizard (ensures software is up to snuff); as well as happiness engineer and support hero (an IT customer service rep).
Of course, trumped up job titles for regular jobs aren’t new — remember when brand ambassador and ninja were popular a few years back? — but experts say that in the past couple of years, they have been increasing and becoming even more unique. “These titles are emerging more and more,” says Vicki Salemi, a career expert for career site Monster.com. “We are seeing more creative titles and reengineering of job descriptions with new twists.”
One reason is that employers are in desperate need of talent — and these titles can make their job openings sound more enticing. Indeed, unemployment sits at just 3.7% — a near 48-year low — and that has employers complaining that they can’t fill open positions. According to a survey from NFIB Research Center released in June, 36% of small businesses say they can’t fill open positions — the highest level on record. And 45% of employers in a survey from workforce solutions company Manpower Group this year said they are having difficulty recruiting qualified workers, up from 40% in 2017 and the highest level in more than a decade.
Enter sexy job titles. “They can make a job sound more enticing and intriguing,” says Salemi. And Sarah Stoddard, a community expert at career site Glassdoor.com, notes that “eye-catching job titles can be a useful tool for employers to attract talent in a job seeker’s market.” Plus, these titles help the listings “stand out in otherwise standard fields with standard titles — customer service, sales, marketing, technology, etc.,” says Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs. Sometimes these titles have staying power: “Brand ambassador is a good example of one that was considered a bit out-there when it was first used years ago, and now it’s a much more common title,” says Reynolds.
Still, behind the name may lie a job that’s just not for you. So how do you get to the bottom of what you’ll really do at work? Begin by giving the job description a thorough read. Then, use the interview to get to the bottom of what you’ll really be doing. Call to Career founder Cheryl Palmer says you should ask for a written description of the job and ask “probing questions” at the interview. “Ask all the questions. Not doing so is a pretty sure proof strategy for landing a job you never wanted,” says career strategist Carlota Zimmerman. These questions might include what your typical day will entail and what specific tasks comprise most of the job. Salemi says you’ll want to get an idea of what percent of your day will be spent doing what tasks, what the company culture is like, what the team is like, and more. Bottom line: “You can’t judge a job by its title,” says Salemi.
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