Tuesday, December 18, 2018

On being a waitress in Manhattan - jobs and job titles on Linkedin.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
In the movie "As Good As It Gets", Jack Nicholson's doctor pays a visit to Helen Hunt's character's house urging her to go back to the work she quit because she's "urgently needed back at work". Inquiring what work she does the doctor is asnwered: "I'm a waitress". Seeing the reaction of the doctor, her mother adds the saving grace: "In Manhattan".
"Waitress... In Manhattan" seems to encapsulate the Linkedin job titles I keep seing on that social media platform. Am I guilty of that? My own Linkedin title is "think tank - multimedia artist". You could tell me, "but no man is a think tank all to himself!". Well, that's because my multihyphenate titles simply do not fit there: I am an engineer, economist, advertiser, strategist, copywriter, university lecturer, blogger, publisher, communication specialist, advertising festival juror, and the list goes on. Oh and I am a multimedia artist too!
When people ask me what I do I usually answer "communication consultant and university lecturer", took me forever to come up with such a (correct or approximative) description of what I do. Actually someone once described me as "failed advertiser turned blogger" which perhaps is a more truthful way of articulating what I do, and if you add the comment that was left on the previous version of the blog that "(I) overcharge my clients for work" this could just describe my life. Do note, my communication services are indeed expensive relative to the market - specifically that the market is pseudo-dead these days which reminds me of the Lebanese idiom "baddo menno w tfou 3aleih" (he needs him yet spits on him).
But "revenons a nos moutons" as the french expression goes. I sometimes see such baffling job descriptions on Linkedin I wonder what the person actually does in life. Sure, what we do in life needs a little salting and peppering for it to be more attractive, that's part of the branding process (and I always say that if one cannot sell himself how can it sell its clients?).
You must have heard of the Payless experiment that convinced influencers to pay 600 Dollars for a 20 Dollar pair of shoes simply by creating a fake brand and shop called Palessi. Even in Lebanon, Andre Sayegh replicated this injecting a run of the mill Amatoury 114 cheap perfume into a bottle and calling it Entrecote Balsamic by Hermes - the results are of course staggering.
Do note, the proof in the end is - as the expression goes - "in the pudding". If you cannot deliver on the product promise, if you cannot sustain your title, clients would turn their back on you - just ask the advertising big wigs in Lebanon: As soon as they underperformed they were unceremniously shown to the door.
So next time you post a job title on Linkedin, it better be up on par with "waitress in Manhattan" and be able to serve Jack Nicholson so as for him to be want to be a "better man" - otherwise "waitress" is just fine as a descriptive of your work.