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Written by Rolf BaxRolf Bax

The US cities home to the weirdest job titles

18 min read
The US cities home to the weirdest job titles
Would people apply for jobs with weird job titles? And what do these weird new job titles really mean? And where do you have to go to find work as a Marketing Superhero or Retail Jedi? Check out this latest blog!

Nobody wants to be a clerk or an ‘associate’ anymore! Professionals and their employees are seeking more inspiring work, and more colorful workplaces. And that means a lot more job adverts for ninjas, wizards, and gurus.

But what do these weird new job titles really mean? And where do you have to go to find work as a Marketing Superhero or Retail Jedi? 

We combed articles on websites such as Business Insider and Skillcrush to identify the most common quirky titles, then grabbed data for the most popular ones from over 10,000 job ads. Data in hand, we mapped out the locations where employers are actively hiring for roles with the weirdest job titles. 

But we didn’t stop there. To help us understand the candidates’ perspective, we surveyed 1,000 Americans to find out how they feel about these terms and whether they affect their perception of the job.

Key findings 

  • South Dakota is the place with the highest concentration of any one weird job title. 155 out of every 100,000 vacancies in this state are for a champion.
  • 74% of all adverts for a hacker are for marketing roles (e.g. Growth Hacker). Tech roles are more likely to be for a genius, evangelist, or wrangler.
  • According to our survey, ads featuring the term champion put off at least two-thirds (69%) of job seekers from applying.
  • The professional Jedi is still a rare thing: we found just 103 job descriptions with Jedi powers as a desirable skill, and only two positions that come with a Jedi job title.
  • Women are 30% less likely to apply to champion or genius roles than men, and 38% less likely to apply to be a guru, our survey found.

Click the job titles on our interactive map to show which positions are available where. You can zoom in and out of the map to discover the density of weird job titles in your region.

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These are the most common ‘weird’ job titles

The most popular quirky job title in our study is champion, appearing in the title of 178 available positions out of over 10,000 vacancies. Warrior comes next, with 167 appearances – although hero is a fraction more popular if you include mentions within job descriptions.

Wizard and Jedi are the least common weird titles in our study. There’s something rather hopeful about job ads for a Management Wizard, Data Wizard, or Admin Wizard. “Whatever magic it is you do – please do it for us!”

Healthcare Warriors vs. Education Ninjas: which sectors prefer which titles?

Some sectors favor certain unconventional job titles more than others, but the connection isn’t always obvious: 

  • 73% of the vacancies we found with warrior in the title are in healthcare – but oddly, none in the military.
  • Hackers are sought for marketing roles (74% of all hacker job titles) rather than tech jobs (17%).
  • The most common destination for ninjas? The classroom. Education roles account for 35% of the job titles available for out-of-work ninjas.
  • More precise job titles are popular for positions in tech (evangelist), creative & media (storyteller), and healthcare (hero).

The Jedi Order of Washington DC: where in America can you find each job title?

Around 13% of Jedi job titles in our study are in Washington, DC. One in ten superhero job titles are advertized in Austin, Texas. But, even allowing for population size, New York City employers use the most weird job titles. Nine out of the fifteen job titles in our study are most commonly used in NYC, from genius to guru, wizard to wrangler

Some fit the Big Apple perfectly. Residents of the city that gave us The Velvet Underground, The Strokes, and Kiss needn’t pick up a guitar to become a Customer Service Rockstar or (we like this one) Rockstar Recruiter. Not sure how many stables there are on Madison Avenue – but wrangler is also a common job title in New York City.

Survey: who applies for these jobs? Who refuses?

The rise in weird vacancies comes as people become more enlightened to the subtle power of language in the workplace. 

A job title that seems like a bit of fun to one person may exclude or offend someone else. It might make the employer look cheesy, or the work seem frivolous. Health-workers don’t really want to be superheroes – just to help people and get on with their jobs. And no self-respecting Trekkie would ever apply to be a Jedi.

We surveyed 1,000 Americans on how they feel about these terms. Are weird job titles inclusive? Or do they put certain people off from applying? Let‘s find out.

How do people feel about applying for jobs with 'weird' titles?

Employers looking to cast a wide net for their next star player should avoid terms like champion or genius. According to our survey, around two-thirds of workers would leave this call unanswered – perhaps intimidated by the suggestion they need to be the best-of-the-best to survive in the role.

Would people apply for jobs with this word in the title?
Would people apply for jobs with this word in the title?

Guru and evangelist are also off-putting terms. Guru would put off 77% of people from applying; evangelist would dissuade 86%. The most off-putting job title is hacker, probably because it sounds illegal. (Legit roles for actual hackers do exist, though!)

The effect of age on job title perception

Broadly speaking, our survey results suggest that older generations are less likely to apply for jobs with quirky titles. However, millennials (aged 25-34) are slightly more likely than the youngest working generation, Generation Z (18-24), to apply for roles with quirky titles.

Perhaps that’s because the weird jobs trend arose as millennials came of age. It is business-as-usual for millennials. Meanwhile, Gen Z consider weird job titles to be another example of the preceding generation being basic and cringey

Would your generation apply to a job with a weird title?
Would your generation apply to a job with a weird title?

High school leavers most likely to apply to weird job roles

Professionals without a high school certificate are the most likely group to apply for weirdly-titled jobs, according to our survey. But other than that, education has a mixed effect on how workers feel about these job ads:

  • Job seekers with a graduate degree are most ok with a champion job title (34.6% would apply for a job with champion in the title) but the least ok with a hacker title (90.4% would not apply).
  • Those with a bachelor degree are least happy with the evangelist title (87.8% wouldn’t apply).
  • The evangelist is the job title that has the most consistent effect across education levels. The most in favor of this title are high school graduates, but still 84.8% of them would not apply..
Does education level affect the likelihood of someone applying for a weird job?
Does education level affect the likelihood of someone applying for a weird job?

Women less likely to be comfortable with ‘genius’ label

Women have had to deal with discouraging job titles since forever. Fireman? Manpower in general? Even ungendered job titles that carry cultural baggage (e.g. nurse, receptionist) have the effect of cementing old-fashioned views into a professional world that urgently needs modernizing.

The weird job titles that most alienate women are the most superlative ones. According to our survey, women are 30% less likely to apply to champion or genius roles than men, and 38% less likely to apply to be a guru. Could this be the Dunning-Kruger effect – that incompetent people are more likely to overestimate their abilities - in action? After all, according to an OK Cupid poll, 46% of men believe themselves to be actual geniuses. For women, the figure is just 30%.

Are women less likely to apply to jobs with weird titles?
Are women less likely to apply to jobs with weird titles?

To Ninja Or Not To Ninja

Like everything these days, whacky job titles are a political issue. But the encouraging news for job seekers is that adverts like these seriously eliminate the competition for jobs – because, as we’ve seen, lots of people find the language off-putting.

All things aside, there’s a good chance that the (rockstar) recruiter who wrote the advert was simply trying to liven up their day with some poetic license. Try to ignore make-believe words like superhero and Jedi and read the job description to see what the employer really means. Or better still, substitute your own name in place of the weird word. You might just like how it looks.

Methodology & Sources

In order to create our interactive map, we collated various job titles from articles on Indeed.com, Business Insider, and similar sites writing about "weird and wonderful" job titles. We then ran searches for these titles on Indeed.com, selecting only those that had at least 100 ads on the site. We pulled all the adverts mentioning a weird role in the title or anywhere in the job description or snippet. For each advert, we recorded the title, employer, location, and job description.

To determine where each title is most prolific, we looked at a simple % of ads mentioning each of our "weird" titles in a given city. To better understand the types of roles mentioning our "weird" titles, we analyzed how they are mentioned alongside other words and phrases using n-gram analysis.

Finally we used Google Surveys to ask 1,000 Americans how they feel about these terms, and used the data to create a set of graphics. The data gathering was done in April 2020. For the full data set and sources, visit bit.ly/PartTimeWizards.

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