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Why No One in Tech Wants to Be a Rockstar or Ninja Anymore

Competition for top talent is fierce, especially in the tech industry, and it has driven HR departments to try some creative solutions. One solution that's caught on involves writing job titles as if job seekers were still children – children who want to be rock stars, ninjas or Jedi knights. But do these "fun" job titles actually accomplish anything? The answer appears to be "no."

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According to Indeed, a huge amount of jobs are posted each year with words like "guru," "wizard," or "rock star" in the title. Companies post positions for "code ninjas" instead of software engineers, and "design gurus" instead of graphic designers. They don't just want front-end engineers – they want a "CSS Genius" or a "Web Development Wizard."

So, do these kinds of job titles actually appeal to the targeted audience?

The years-old trend has gotten a variety of reactions, from mixed reviews to professional criticism to outright hostility. But no one seems to be enthusiastically singing the praises of these job titles. One writer even suspects that positions with "rock star" in the job title are actually paid less than those without it.

So while it may seem trendy to incorporate these words into a job title, it's not exactly welcomed with open arms by tech professionals.

And the practice is already growing less popular among companies, according to a 2015 post by Indeed. From 2014 to 2015, the percentage of jobs with "ninja," "rock star," "guru," "jedi" or "wizard" in the title took a massive dip. Perhaps they're finding that the typical applicant would rather be a mere software engineer than a "Javascript Guru" after all.

("Rockstar," in particular, may be ill-advised, given the decline of rock and roll in the mainstream and how difficult it is for musicians to make a living in the 21st century. Culturally aware job applicants probably don't want to be rock stars, in other words. Perhaps they'd prefer to be DJs.)

Conclusion

Spicing up a job title with "fun" words like "ninja," "genius" or "rock star" seems like it would make your company appear fun and make talented people want to work for you. However, the practice is declining in popularity, and it may never have worked particularly well in the first place.

The best practice is to title your positions accurately and communicate your expectations for each position clearly. Talented people, it seems, want to exercise their talents more than they want to pretend to be rock stars.