In recent years, it's become something of a trend for employers to use weird and wonderful job titles to add a little spice to their online listings while (hopefully) communicating something about company culture.

Some of the most creative job titles can be found at the executive level, if we are to go by all the Chief Troublemakers, Directors of Fun and Paranoid in Chiefs of this world. However, you can also find them elsewhere in the workforce. And while these job titles usually sound fun   think “direct-mail demigod” (direct mail manager), “accounting ninja” (a more fun-sounding name for financial manager), or “chief chatter” (a call-center manager) they can also be confusing.

The truth is, to stand the best chances of making the best-fit hire, you want to maximize your chances of discovery — and here weird job titles may work against you as few job seekers are searching for work as “wizards” or “ninjas.”

We’ll talk more about best practices later in this post. For now, let’s crunch some numbers and take a look at the state of weird and wacky job titles in 2018.

Identifying the most popular weird job titles today

We first identified the most common weird job titles in the US. Given the many wacky choices we have, we wanted to know which terms would rise to the top among all the jobs posted by recruiters online. This year, seven terms performed particularly strongly: genius, guru, hero, ninja, superhero, rockstar, and wizard.

“Ninja” is the comeback kid of 2018, as there was a 90% increase in “ninja” job titles between October of last year and October of this year. Ninjas are up 140% since we started tracking popular weird job titles in 2015 — which just goes to demonstrate the resilience of references to deadly assassins.

By contrast, last year’s winner, “rockstar,” didn’t fare as well. Following some dramatic ups and downs it ended this year with an overall growth in job postings but was only up by 17%.

We also see a slight uptick in "genius" jobs: 21% over the last year. But while geniuses are on the rise, heroes are on the decline by 44%, to be exact. However, not all heroes are doing poorly. In fact, job titles containing the term “superhero” rose by 19% in the period under study (but have decreased overall by 55% since 2015, despite the ongoing success of blockbuster movies featuring super-powered saviors).

There is also a decline in magic: searches for job titles containing the term “wizard” were down by 17%. Are magic-themed job titles doomed to extinction? Only time will tell.

Where the wild job titles are

Next, we decided to take a look at the geography of weird job titles, looking at which states have the largest share of employers hunting for ninjas, gurus, wizards and so on. What did we find? Last year weird job titles were flourishing away from big states such as California, Texas and New York, but this year California claims the crown as king of the wild and woolly. Texas and Florida also performed strongly, and while New York “kept it real” last year and didn’t demonstrate a strong concentration of job title weirdness, the Empire State staged a resurgence this year.

“Ninja,” of course, used to refer to an agent or assassin in feudal Japan skilled in the martial arts. Today, however, it is used in job postings across a variety of industries. A quick search on Indeed came back with ninja roles ranging from “cleaning ninja” to “data ninja,” while men’s clothing retailer Bonobos has expanded the dominion of ninja jobs to its “customer experience ninja” roles.

The largest share of ninja jobs can be found in California and while traditional ninjas might get a bit too hot in Texas or Florida, which rank second and third for share of ninja job titles  data ninjas and customer experience ninjas will have the benefit of air conditioning and will do just fine.

The largest share of “rockstar” job titles was in Idaho last year, but in 2018 they appear most prominently in California. The Golden State has its fair share of musical talent (as evidenced by Hollywood’s famous Sunset Strip, the setting for rock ‘n’ roll decadence in the ‘80s) just as it does “rockstar” job titles. In fact, California makes up 15% of rockstar job listings in the nation.

So what turns up when we search for "rockstar"? Quite a few customer-focused positions like “customer service rockstar” or “customer experience rockstar.” But we also see “social media rockstar,” as well as specific roles like “rockstar chiropractor.”

When you hear the term “genius,” you might think of someone who has exceptional intelligence and creativity, such as Albert Einstein, known for his breakthroughs in physics, or Leonardo Da Vinci, who besides painting the Mona Lisa was also a mathematician, engineer and writer.  

Nowadays, there are plenty of genius job listings, though recruiters probably aren’t necessarily thinking of attracting candidates so intellectually advanced that they border on madness. A search for genius jobs does return plenty of “Apple Genius” and “BMW Genius” opportunities, both of them being highly skilled customer service roles. These are now well known enough that they are probably less confusing than some other "genius" jobs, where the word serves as a catch-all substitute for a clever person or some kind of “specialist.” Once again, California has the largest share of genius roles, but we also see New York, Florida and Pennsylvania on the list.

If you’re looking for gurus, then California and Texas duke it out for the top share of jobs with this term in the title with California coming top once again. Guru is a Sanskrit term meaning “teacher” and is used to describe people with great wisdom. Nowadays, it’s applied a little more … er … broadly.

For instance, a quick search on Indeed for guru jobs returned “scale guru,” which, apparently, refers to a knowledgeable scale technician who has a strong knowledge of “weights and measures” and the “ability to move 50 lb weights on and off of various platforms and hanging apparatus.” We also saw quite a few “social media guru” and “digital marketing guru” jobs.

While “hero” jobs have been on the decline in recent years, there are still recruiters out there who haven’t given up and continue to hold out that one will turn up eventually. New York and New Jersey have the largest share of postings for “hero” jobs, together making up more than a third (34%) of these jobs nationally.

When we look at “hero” jobs on Indeed, we see it applied to roles that involve work with children. For example, a “hospital hero” provides “integrative healing therapies and wellness education to children” and must have five years of experience as a healing arts practitioner. A “party hero,” on the other hand, is the equivalent of an event host and works with kids and adults to create fun event experiences by coordinating event details, setting up, serving food and more. 

If you’ve always been convinced you missed your chance as a child to attend Hogwarts, you might have to (once again) head for California, which has the largest share of “wizard” jobs.

Perhaps you’ll even work your way up and become a “Wizard of Light Bulb Moments,” which is just a fancy way of saying marketing director. A search for wizard jobs on Indeed turned up some other unusual (and not particularly clear) finds — “assurance wizard,” “content creation wizard,” and “scheduling wizard,” to name a few.  

If you ever said you wanted to be a superhero when you grew up, you might not have considered simply taking on any old job with “superhero” in the title. Fittingly enough, it turns out that the state with the largest share of “superhero” job titles is Ohio — the birthplace of Jerry Siegel, co-creator (with Joe Schuster) of the most famous superhero of all: Superman.

But although Ohio is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “rockstar” jobs don’t do as well. More generally, a search for superhero jobs on Indeed returns roles like “legal assistant superhero” and “digital advertising and marketing superhero.”

Keep job titles clear and descriptive for best results

From what we’ve seen, weird job titles can be eye-catching and unique, indicating a fun and casual company culture. However, including them in your job postings may not always come across the way you intend to job seekers. Most people don’t search for weird job titles like “ninja” or “superhero” but rather for job titles that match their skills and experiences. You may even run into the issue of job seekers being put off by weird job titles and deciding to not apply.  

That’s not to say you need to drop the fun job titles completely. We recommend using more common job titles online and conveying the specifics and skills needed for a job, with the option to have fun with the job title in the workplace. This will help you improve your placement in search results while maintaining a fun and friendly company culture. Here are some tips on coming up with job titles:

  • Keep the job title concise, between 5 and 80 characters, and avoid all caps. If your title is too long or too short, it will not rank well. Make sure not to include special characters in your title. This makes it easier to read and more likely to match the search queries from job seekers.
  • Describe the job title in normal terms. If you are hiring a “Digital Marketer,” call it that. Avoid phrases that people are less likely to search for.
  • Avoid internal titles that don’t accurately describe the job. Job seekers may misunderstand abbreviations or acronyms, especially if they’re new to or unfamiliar with your company. “Senior Web Designer” is much clearer to applicants than “Web Designer II.”
  • Use the job title to describe the main aspects of the job. For example, “Events and Sponsorships Manager” is much more effective than just “Marketing.”

To do more to optimize your job titles so candidates can find them more easily and conveniently, check out this post. For a really deep dive, we recommend taking a course on Indeed Academy, our free training platform designed to help recruiters get the most out of Indeed.