As much as I like "Demi-God of Marketing"...
July 10, 2007 7:58 AM   Subscribe

My boss asked me what job title I want on my business cards. Help!

I've been at my new job for a little over a month, and my boss just asked me what title I want put on my business cards.

I work for a small company (less than 5 workers including my boss). I handle accounting, marketing, sales, tech stuff, design, office misc... pretty much a bit of everything. I don't do one more than the others, and my duties change every day.

We've thought about Personal Assistant, Creative Director or Marketing Manager, but those don't really explain all that I do for the company.

As much as I'd like a cute, quirky job title for my business cards ("Dictator", anyone?), I'd like something that is a bit more professional. A tad tongue-in-cheek is good, though. I've been given full leeway as to what my title can be, but I have to decide on the title today! HELP!
posted by damnjezebel to Work & Money (41 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Choose the highest designator: ie. Director over Manager or Assistant. It will carry more weight when you're dealing with people outside your company and when you move onto your next job.
posted by meerkatty at 8:00 AM on July 10, 2007

I always like business cards that don't specify a title. Though I suspect they work better in my industry (law) than in a creative industry.

Chief Operating Officer? Marketing Director? I like Creative Director, too.
posted by raf at 8:01 AM on July 10, 2007

(Though it sounds like Creative Director might be a bit misleading; I think of it as people who are entirely in charge of creative, and don't do other things. But I guess if you handle those tasks, the fact that you do other things too at a small company isn't too surprising.)
posted by raf at 8:02 AM on July 10, 2007

Director of Operations. Or Operations Director, if you don't want to step on the other 4 people's feets.
posted by headspace at 8:02 AM on July 10, 2007

Wow.. I was going to ask a very similar question today and I feel like I can't now...


Personal Assistant is BAD - that sounds like you're someone's bitch for lack of any nicer way of saying it. If i see that on your resume I think you can get coffee and type my dictations.

Since it sounds like you do lots of stuff, I would think Operations Manager or COO (Chief Operating Officer, suggested above) are appropriate.

In a company so small, though, you could also be called a Partner, Founding Partner, or some similar type title... nebulous, but sounds important, and is general enough to cover your myriad of duties...
posted by twiggy at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: I should point out that I am my coworkers' supervisor. So technically, I AM some sort of manager. I can't step on anyone's toes but the owner's.
posted by damnjezebel at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2007

I like Senior Director, it isn't too specific and is professional and more importantly sounds important.
posted by bilbo baggins at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: OMG sorry, Twiggy! Feel free to piggy back onto my question. I don't mind.
posted by damnjezebel at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2007

Yeah, for such a small organization, a title wouldn't encompass what you do. Ask if you have have nothing there at all, because "1/5th of the company" doesn't scan very well.
posted by cmiller at 8:14 AM on July 10, 2007

You could do a cute, quirky title ("Stuff Doer" perhaps?) for your business cards, but agree on a more formal, "professional" title with your boss. That way, you can enjoy the quirky title, but still have the "Director"-level title to put on a resume in the future and to use in more formal situations--"I was the Director of Operations" sounds a little better than "I was the dictator" in an interview. :-) Cards are cheap, you could even have two sets printed up, but I'd think that the more informal, quirky title would be most commonly used.
posted by zachlipton at 8:16 AM on July 10, 2007

Senior Director of Everything.


Right Hand Woman

Fire chief

Office Whip

Senior Chef

Miracle Worker
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:18 AM on July 10, 2007

Disagree with "Partner" which would suggest to me an ownership stake in the company and that you are an equal of the owner. Definitely disagree with "founding partner" which suggests that you started or helped start the company and are listed on legal documents somewhere to that effect.

Director of Operations. Or Operations Director, if you don't want to step on the other 4 people's feets.

I was also going to suggest something relating to operations, since you seem to have your hand in lots of pies.

headspace, your comment leads me to a question: is there a fundamental difference between being the Director of Something and the Something Director? Not at all snarking, I truly have no idea.

(I work for a non-U.S. company where titles and even business cards are an afterthought, and they just don't get the American "obsession" with org chart and titles. I am constantly trying to explain the distinctions, in an effort to demonstrate why U.S. personnel need these designations if we're to operate in the U.S. market.)

(In fact, as long as we're piggybacking, I'd love links to well-organized org charts, or to anything that demonstrates the typical corporate ladder titles and the nuances between them, if anyone knows of such resources)
posted by pineapple at 8:18 AM on July 10, 2007

I work for a small company (less than 5 workers including my boss).

If you are this small a company, anything on your card with "Chief" or "Senior" or "Director" would seem a little pompous, IMO. The large the company, the longer the title:
"Assistant Technical Admin Director of Infrastructure Protocol Design and Architecture, Borneo Sector" would probably work will if you worked for some huge company. For such a small outfit as you have, 99.999% of people have never heard of it; so I would simply put my name, and if someone asks you your position, tell them you do it all.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:18 AM on July 10, 2007

I like Operations Manager or Senior Director. I worked in a similar situation, and the person who did all the stuff you do eventually got the title VP of Operations (which seems a bit much in a 4-person office, but there it is).

Although I think your Mefi username would be best of all!
posted by junkbox at 8:36 AM on July 10, 2007

How about Office Manager?
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 8:39 AM on July 10, 2007

It sounds as if you could be accurately considered a "Managing Director."

All of these types of titles have their own connotations:
* Creative Whatevers are hired based on a portfolio. If you weren't, then you're not.
* Chief Anything in a company that size will make people assume your title is wildly inflated, like when small firms make everyone a Vice President.
* Personal Assistant is, as mentioned upthread, code word for "someone's bitch."
* In larger companies, "Operations" often refers to someone who supervises shipping and receiving, and acts as liaison to building security, phone network company, all the other "keeps the office running smoothly" stuff that is not necessarily directly related to the mission of the company.
* However, in small companies, a combined title can be an effective description. If you describe yourself as "Marketing and Operations," for example, that's a whole different connotation.
* Partner implies ownership.

What's your boss's title?
posted by desuetude at 8:46 AM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Desuetude - her title is "owner", but on her cards, she doesn't have a title.
posted by damnjezebel at 8:52 AM on July 10, 2007

i second office manager
posted by pictureyellow at 8:54 AM on July 10, 2007

Operations is definitely the department. If you think tacking on Director is too lofty, either keep it as just "Operations" or use "Head of Operations".
posted by junesix at 8:56 AM on July 10, 2007

There are really three things to convey here. You're not in any one traditional area of work (like sales, or design, etc.) but rather in a wide range of them; you actually accomplish things rather than sitting on your butt; final responsibility for all these things lies with you. More succinctly, you do a wide range of stuff, you actually do stuff, and you're in charge of doing stuff. I like "Director of Operations" for those messages, as well as "Office Manager."

More unhelpfully, "Utility Infielder" sounds about right.
posted by grimmelm at 8:57 AM on July 10, 2007

"Office manager" sounds like the person in charge of the supply cabinet and the electric bill. It's got a distinctively administrative tone to me. I rarely expect an office manager to have direct reports.
posted by pineapple at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2007

I worked at a company where one woman had her title as "Jane of all Trades," which was kind of cute, I thought.
posted by that girl at 9:04 AM on July 10, 2007

I've faced this exact situation before and only wish I had thought to ask the MeFites about it. Job titles can be so meaningless for small companies but SO incredibly important in interviewing and working in larger businesses.
I think the best title will be the one most likely to score you the next job you're looking for. Think of the career tracks at a large corporation in an industry you'd like to work in and take it from there. Are you a creative? Do you want to do sales? Marketing? Admin./operations? HR? The beauty is that you're gaining a little bit of experience in a lot of different areas of a business but it's likely that someday you'll need to commit to a department category if you want to work for a larger business (and make a larger salary).

However, if you want to be the jack of all trades in an office setting forever (girl after my own heart) then maybe calling yourself Manager of Operations would be a good play. (Personally, I think a Director title is best left for someone in a more senior role, who doesn't perform assistant duties for anyone anymore.) I've seen that title on certain tech and online companies and it may be the next promotional level for your job as you've described it now.
posted by smallstatic at 9:13 AM on July 10, 2007


I don't like office manager much either; it brings up connotations of what amounts to the head secretary. Accounting, marketing, and design are all heavier hitting responsibilities.

I like Chief Operating Officer, or no title at all.

In response to pineapple, "X Director" seems to carry more clout than "Director of X," though maybe it's just because it's in active voice.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:16 AM on July 10, 2007

Chief Miracle Officer.
posted by krautland at 9:29 AM on July 10, 2007

Office Manager = Head Secretary. If you're involved in marketing and sales, you're not the office manager.
posted by desuetude at 9:37 AM on July 10, 2007

I suppose Tobias' Analrapist isn't really appropriate for you, given that you're neither a therapist nor an analyst.

Chief Operating Officer, as I understand it, is a very specific position in publicly-traded companies. Even if you are the chief person in charge of operations, you're not necessarily the COO.

I like the concept of "Utility Infielder" that grimmelm proposes—maybe sports has a good name— but "Utility Infielder," in the context of an office, makes me think you manage the electricity, phones, and water supply.

Office Linebacker, but might carry a negative connotation, and might just confuse those who don't spend lots of time on YouTube.

I think the "Jane of All Trades" is really the best I've seen so far.
posted by fogster at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2007

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America
posted by fusinski at 9:48 AM on July 10, 2007

I've always liked vague titles like "Operations" or "Systems." If you want to add some clout, I'd agree with the "Director of Operations" suggestion.

When I was working on fraud at a company that didn't want it to be known that they had a fraud problem, I used "General Specialist." It was funny for those paying attention and would pass right by those who didn't really care.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 10:09 AM on July 10, 2007

Actually, "Damn Jezebel" would make a pretty awesome job title.
posted by bonehead at 10:13 AM on July 10, 2007

Undersecretary of Special Projects
posted by electroboy at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. I'm going to sit down with all of these and figure something out. I'll let you know what the new title is when I decide!
posted by damnjezebel at 11:16 AM on July 10, 2007

Something with a silly acronym?

POO: Principal Operating Officer
COOL: Company Office Operations Lead
posted by juv3nal at 12:24 PM on July 10, 2007

I think a lot of people are suggesting you are in Operations because they think it's a vague catch-all when it really isn't. If you say you are some kind of Operations Officer on a resume, employers are going to think you have a skill set which you actually don't have. Operations Officers deal with managing the production and distribution of a product. That can mean anything from logistics to process analysis to quality control, but nothing like marketing, sales, or tech stuff.

Your best bet as a Jane-all-trades is to choose the portion of your job that you like to do the most, would like to develop the most, and would try to get a job doing at another company. Maybe even two of your roles. Then give yourself a qualifier that matches the highest level you can honestly get away with. You might end up with something a bit unwieldy like "Director of Sales and Marketing/Office Manager", but if that is what you do, that is what your title should be. Don't worry about being self-aggrandizing. That's what titles are for. Marketing yourself to other people. Think about what you are going to put on your resume when you shop for a new job. Are you going to look for a job as an Operations Officer? Then why would you describe yourself that way now?
posted by team lowkey at 3:42 PM on July 10, 2007

Do not do Chief Operating Officer. COO sounds way too much like CEO, and this is a bad thing. I can tell you this from personal experience.

Once upon a time, I worked in a tiny company in a village nestled in the mountains of Virginia. We had hired this guy to be, primarily, a salesperson, although I guess he did other things too. We all got business cards and, almost as a joke, we put our titles on them (I think it might have been his idea to have the titles and we went along with it; he was one of those A-type "big thinkers" who likes networking and business seminars). Long story short, he decides that, for reasons unclear to us, he is the COO of our company. He procedes to go around introducing himself as "The COO of xxxx".

Fast forward a few months, my boss (whose card technically said "President" on it, but he rarely identified himself as such) goes to to a networking event where he meets someone and says, "Hi. I'm from xxxx". "Oh yeah, I met the president of xxxx" the other guy replies. "Oh, you did?" my boss (the president) deadpans.

The worst part was that this guy was barely able to write a cohesive sentence, only marginally understood what it was we were selling, and had a lot of personality problems. But boy, could that guy sell if he wanted to! The only problem was, he didn't want to do sales -- he wanted to be a Chief Operating Officer.

For months after my boss fired him all it would take would be one small thing that reminded us of him and we'd go on a rant for, like, 10-20 minutes on what a god-awful employee he was.

So please, for the love of all that is holy, don't go around calling yourself COO.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:46 PM on July 10, 2007

Chief Administrative Officer
posted by KneeDeep at 5:32 PM on July 10, 2007

If you say you are some kind of Operations Officer on a resume, employers are going to think you have a skill set which you actually don't have. Operations Officers deal with managing the production and distribution of a product. That can mean anything from logistics to process analysis to quality control, but nothing like marketing, sales, or tech stuff.

I think this might be out of date. It's pretty well-established that in the context of the title "Chief Operations Officer," the word operations doesn't merely refer to product distribution. I agree that for lower positions, the word at one time had strong distribution implication, but if you Google "director of operations", the majority of the returns on the first few pages aren't referring to distribution. I'd guess that the connotation in an HR capacity has degraded in recent years due to misuse.
posted by pineapple at 6:34 PM on July 10, 2007

I think you should have a sensible title, business cards are for outsiders who don't know you. The only reason I would go with something tongue in cheek is if everyone else at your firm is doing the same because that is the image your business is trying to project. I once met the guys who founded Bigfoot, an email forwarding service in the dot-com boom, who were Mr. Big and Mr. Foot on their cards, but that was all part of their PR image.
If you are going to the meeting with the bank to seek an overdraft you want to look solid and responsible.
I would say Operations Manager. As for the comments that this is a specific role/skillset, that might be true in manufacturing, but in the service sector there are plenty of operations managers making sure that everything runs smoothly.
posted by bystander at 8:38 PM on July 10, 2007

posted by violetk at 9:57 PM on July 10, 2007

It sounds like you will have had to decide by now, but for what it's worth, I came here intending to post exactly what desuetude did. Managing Director is what sprang immediately to my mind.
posted by emmastory at 4:21 AM on July 11, 2007

again, way too late by this point, but my vote goes for "X Director". Not "Marketing Director" or "Operations Director" but actually "X Director".

for comparison, at my last small job, my official job title was "Linux Wizzard" (yes, Wizzard...someone out there is bound to get it eventually)
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2007

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