What Should Your Business Card Say?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the technology business most of my career, but I’m jaded when it comes to job titles I see on business cards. Most have no meaning at all.

My least favorite job title is Project Manager. That’s the catch-all title for people who do a bunch of tasks that can’t be grouped under any discipline. If that sounds a little too pedestrian just preface it with Lead, Group or Senior to make it sound like you do even less work.

At some companies everyone is a VP. That was the case at the last company I worked for. Put in a couple of good years and we’ll print business cards with VP in the title. It doesn’t matter what you’re VP over. Even VP of the Mailroom sounds impressive, but HR would call it VP of Document Distribution to make it sound more palatable and justify the annual bonus.

My business card says I’m a Technical Operations Manager. I don’t know what that means and I avoid answering the question, “What is your title?” because it always leads to, “Oh…so what is it that you do?”

The work I do isn’t very technical unless you count getting Outlook to work each day. I’m not sure I have anything to do with operations either. Makes it sound like I sit in the back room and fiddle with computers all day. As fun as that sounds that’s not what I do.

Manager. Now that sounds important. Reminds of my first job out of college when I worked as a Store Manager for $24,000/year. That felt like so much money I went out and bought a Mazda Miata.

During the winter.

In Rock Springs, Wyoming.

I realized my decision was flawed when I left my store at 9 pm only to find my Miata covered entirely in snow and was forced to take a cab home.

In my experience, any job I’ve had with manager in the titles means spending 75% of my time doing paperwork of some sort. I’ll write reviews, place orders, fill out forms and get so tired of writing that I want to poke my eyes out with a Sharpie.

What is your job title and what should it really be? I’d like to change mine to Paperwork Guru.

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14 thoughts on “What Should Your Business Card Say?

  1. Mine is “Associate Engineer”. My company’s conventions in the technical track are pretty straight forward; there’s your rank (Associate, ____, Senior, Principal) and then you’re either a Scientist or an Engineer. I more strongly identify with Engineer, but I suspect I’ll become a Scientist down the road as I complete more degrees.

    I do like the sound of guru, though.


  2. I think that is how a lot of mothers feel too. The job title Stay at Home Mom just doesn’t describe everything we do. In essence, saying I am a stay at home mom is the opposite effect verses saying you are a manager because most people like you have a very lax living. When in reality, as I am sure you know, Mother means chef, maid, playmate, grocery shopper, organizer, bather, dog walker, cat litter scooper, dish washer…. so many things that have been diminished to the title “stay at home mom”. Can I have a business card that says all those things?


  3. Mine is ‘Controller’, although I’m not sure how much control I really have. I mostly fix other people’s mistakes. Maybe I should be the ‘Fix It Man’. That could be my business card (if I ever get some): ‘Dan Dan the Fix It Man’. Is that too long?


  4. If you are working in an early stage company you should skip your title entirely as everyone does everything (from writing code to making coffee).


  5. Mike, I agree with you about being paid as a writer. Although I worry that it would change if I viewed writing as a job, so maybe it’s for the best that I slog off to work each day as a “manager”.


  6. Umm … How can I phrase this? … Titles generally bite.

    I was thinking that it would be so lovely for titles to be updated seasonally, just the way one’s wardrobe should be. That’s right, a planned, seasonal title refresh could zap unwanted energy from the ranks and save people from the awkward sensation of continually wearing a dress that’s a bit too tight or jeans that bling with just a little too much flair on the morning of the office’s 3rd layoff in a year.

    Think about the wins here.

    Regardless of titles, Brett and Jeff (Shattuck) need a show. And when you pitch it, you’ll need to fill the title of Executive Producer, Producer, Editorial Director, or One who Appreciates a Good Laugh and a Good Wine. Call me, I might know some good people.


  7. Jeff: I am a giving kind of a guy. You shall be known as Assistant to the Regional Manager of the Hill People.

    You might need a bigger business card.


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