What is a good title for my job?
July 25, 2007 6:28 PM   Subscribe

What is a good job title for my position?

I just started working at a tech startup. Probably if we were being totally honest, my title would be 'intern,' but the founders have kindly agreed to let me pick my title (within reason) so it looks good on my resume. Plus, I really do do a lot, as it is just a 4 person company.

What is a good title for me? I write content for the site, participate in general business decisions, attend funding meetings, manage our outsourced employees, set up financial management systems, and research competitors, etc.

Would Lead Project Manager be appropriate? Product manager? Program manager? Something else?

What do the mefites think? I know a lot of you are in tech. What do you usually call that person who does 'all the other stuff' and helps with everything (besides a secretary)?
posted by names are hard to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Man if I did all that for a four-person startup and my title didn't have "partner" in it somewhere, I'd be outta there in a hurry.
posted by ldenneau at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2007

Seconding ldenneau. You manage outsourced employees, set up financial management systems, and research competitors. At the very least, that's a directorship.

I remember reading an article about a slacker dude who joined a company which let him pick his title. At the time the company had little to no business in Europe. Slacker dude picked "Managing Director" which means CEO in Europe. With the title and no other authority, he started making all kinds of lucrative deals for the company overseas.

So if the partners are ignorant of global business, how about "Managing Director?"
posted by infinitewindow at 6:42 PM on July 25, 2007

Response by poster: I think that's good advice.

I should've included this originally, but I'm only here temporarily before I go back to school (like two months total). I could work here next year when i graduate if they are still around, but for now its more like a summer 'internship.'

Same advice?
posted by names are hard at 6:53 PM on July 25, 2007

If you're only going to be there for two months, it'll look fishy on applications for you to be a "Managing Director" for two months, and in my limited experience in the job world, looking fishy is far worse than appearing underqualified. So, give yourself a good title, but one that does imply that it was a summer job. Most of the things that you're doing have to deal with your company's appearance, so how about being a "Liason" of some sort? Liason seems important, but you don't really need to work your way up the ladder to be one.
Chief Liason?
Managing Liason?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 7:12 PM on July 25, 2007

Project Manager. ...but when sending resumes choose a title and job description that suits the job you're applying for. Nobody wants jack of all trades, they want jack of their trade.
posted by StarForce5 at 7:20 PM on July 25, 2007

If I was looking to hire you, and I saw a job listed on your resume as "May '08 - Aug '08", I'd much rather see "Intern" than "Project Manager". A real title raises the question of why you only worked there for 4 months.
posted by mkultra at 8:17 PM on July 25, 2007

Best answer: Project manager and product manager both imply something different (at least in the US, and especially in a tech field) from what you are doing. If I were to review your resume and see "project manager" or "product manager," I would expect skills and experience that have nothing to do with the job description you laid out -- and like mkultra said, I'd wonder why you were there so briefly.

Instead, if I were the recruiter interviewing you, I'd be more impressed if your resume reflected that you were originally hired as an intern... and then shortly after, given a promotion and actual title -- no matter if the title was something like "operational support" or "startup support manager" or something else sort of vague.
posted by pineapple at 8:38 PM on July 25, 2007

To piggyback on TEDBH, mkultra and pineapple's points, because you are an intern (unless you're ultimately hired), best not to misrepresent your tenure with the startup. If "intern" is a bit lackluster — or even, if this case, inaccurate — consider calling your position "consultant," and then outline your particular areas of responsibility.
posted by rob511 at 9:34 PM on July 25, 2007

As someone who interviews a lot of people with really diverse work histories, there is nothing wrong with 'intern' for a two month job. Though I would probably go with the more awesome sounding 'developer'; it's generic enough to mean just about anything.

Though to be totally truthful, if I was given carte-blanche to come up with my own job title, you would definitely be talking to the newest Ninja-Master-Rock-Star-who-Totally-Kicks-Ass.

Don't laugh. NMRSwTKA are actually not all that well represented in the job market and really bring a lot to the table, talent wise.
posted by quin at 9:50 PM on July 25, 2007

It's less important what you call yourself (Development and Management Intern?) than that, in future application letters, you flog the HELL out of the huge amount of work and responsibility associated with this position. Some entry-level applicants had internships that were simply gofer+stayouttatheway field trips; yours is impressive, so just make sure the letter (and list of duties on the resume, if you use that format) make it clear that you did serious, "real" work.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:01 PM on July 25, 2007

How about putting "Temporary", "Interim" or "Acting" before any other title, which would explain your short tenure.


Temporary Project Manager
Interim Managing Director
Acting Lead Developer


Or how about "Senior Intern"?
posted by djgh at 10:23 PM on July 25, 2007

Or how about "Senior Intern"?

Seriously, no. I mean, the whole point of the designation 'Intern' is just to indicate that you are temporary, non-paid help. Adding qualifiers to that is just Gilding the Lily.

Be happy with Intern, or chose something more dynamic. But don't make 'Intern' sound more important than it is.

And to be honest, most of the time, as a interviewer, I only glance over the title because I know how random that shit is.

All I care about is experience, skills, and personality. Two of those show up on your resume and are far more important than what your company calls you.

By way of hyperbolic example, I could tell you that your position as a High-temperature-lubricant-and- coolant-administrator-with-a-culinary- arts-background- and- a-minor-in-tubers-and-agriculture, is really a snappy way of describing a fry-cook... but that would be silly.
posted by quin at 10:53 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Consultant. It's a real job title and it's appropriate for a short term gig.
posted by 26.2 at 11:15 PM on July 25, 2007

Intern, but use a parenthetical job title, such as "Intern (Business Analyst)".
posted by solid-one-love at 11:28 PM on July 25, 2007

Business Manager?

Business Manager (acting) if you are worried about the duration.
posted by dg at 12:27 AM on July 26, 2007

Best answer: Man if I did all that for a four-person startup and my title didn't have "partner" in it somewhere, I'd be outta there in a hurry.

Yeah, well, jobs are funny that way. I did all that for around 4-5 years with nothing more than the largely symbolic title of "Chief Technology Officer." I was being paid, and it was my boss who at certain points didn't take any salary to move the business forward. I'm guessing if I had insisted on the partner title I would have received it, but then I would have had to shoulder the responsibilities as well as the perks.

Also, looks like the dude is there for a couple of months. Partner? Really?

To answer the questioN: Use the intern title, but then push the tasks you did in later CVs. It's common knowledge that titles are inflated, so if someone sees something like:

Senior Super Duper Manager
Tasks: Answering phone, bringing coffee, taking notes at meetings

They're going to be a LOT less impressed than

Tasks: Overseeing outsourced employees, implementing financial management systems, attending funding meetings, writing and publishing content.

They'll think, "Wow, they did all that, as an intern?!?"

We only hired on one person the whole time I was with my last company (and that turned out to be a mistake, but still the right decision, sort of). We saw a bunch of others and what I noticed is that people had nice titles and were completely incapable of doing anything outside of their little sphere of knowledge. Just emphasize your broad management experience, titles be darned.

Oh, and if you like them definitely work for them next year if they are still around. You'll be able to start at a higher position because they know you, you'll be handed more authority, and even if you decide you don't want to stay there longn term at least you don't have to start at the bottom rung of a company when you finally enter the "real world". When you're there for 6 months or longer you can think about a real title.

Finally, if you end up applying for a job with someone on MetaFilter, this question officially qualifies you for the title of Eponystericist.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:06 AM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thirding consultant. It's nice and generic, explains the short time there and is so unforgettable that instead they'll concentrate on all the stuff you did there.

Take my advice with a grain of salt though, I'm listed as Mad Scientist in our corporate address book.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:21 AM on July 26, 2007

You sound like an Associate Business Director.
posted by anildash at 10:18 PM on July 27, 2007

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