What’s in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell so sweet


Now go on, you didn't expect to be seeing them today, did you?

It’s been ages since our last guest post (well, since 26 March anyway) and we were beginning to think that perhaps no-one else had any interesting or amusing points about local government which they wanted to share with us and our readers.  That was when this work of art popped into our inbox (welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com by the way) and proved us wrong in the most wonderful way, so here it is in all its glory.  If you’ve got something you think would interest or amuse us or our readers send it in and you too could see your name up in pixels, but first enjoy and chip in yourselves.

The colleague who sits next to me is a slammer.

Most of the time she is very calm at work; while everyone is stressed she is usually the relaxed one. However she does get stressed and she deals with this by slamming down the phone. She will tend to be as sweet as pie on the phone but I know she is angry at the caller because she slams down the phone at the end of the conversation. At times this may be led by an appropriate outburst.

The other day she really slammed down the phone. Any harder and she would have broken the head piece, gone through the desk and met the floor. Once said phone was down, she whispered under her breath, in that kind of whisper that everyone care hear within a mile of you, “No Madam I am not going to refund your *%*! parking ticket, as my job is to collate performance data on education, not to deal with parking tickets and anyway, I have no idea what our *%”! parking policy is.” What had caused this outburst? Quiet simply the call centre had put through a resident wanting to complain about parking to someone who had nothing to do with parking.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. When a call comes through that has nothing to do with your job. Sometimes you can understand the mistake (I know Scrutiny Officers get calls about security), sometimes it is just bizarre (I know an Engagement Officer who gets a call about the Borough’s flood defences). But you know what? I don’t think it’s the person at the call center or reception’s fault.

No; its our job titles.

Look at your job title now. If you had no idea what your job was, would you understand what it was you did just by your job title? I’m willing to bet the amount of the Country’s Deficit, that the answer is no. I’m also willing to bet you are sick and tired of having to explain what it is you do after you have met someone for the first time and they have given you a blank look when you have told them your job title. You may even have a set phrase, “Its like…” I’m also willing to bet that the majority of your friends and family haven’t a clue what it is you do, because they have turned off before you have even started said explanation. And you know what, nearly every job title in local government is like this (go on look at the job title of a person in the team next to you…see, I’m right!).

Well I’m going to save us from these awkward situations. Never again will you see that confused look when the person you’re talking to is thinking, “You do what?” Never again will you have to search for an allegory to explain what it is you do. Never again will you get a phone call meant for another team. The reason why? Because I’m going to suggest a revolution. We are going to make our job titles meaningful. Our titles are going to say, as clearly as the moon is made of cheese, what our jobs are.

And because I believe action is stronger then words I’m going to give you some examples:

Chief Executive – Punch bag for the Leader of the Council

Leader/Mayor of the Council – Punch bag for Residents

Residents – Masters

Councillor – Reminding Officers they are not right – i.e The Boss

Youth Participation Officer – Reminding everyone that young people have opinions which are at times better informed and more thought out then other people

Engagement Officer – Reminding everyone that residents exist

Business Improvement Advisor – Telling managers how to do their jobs better

Civil Contingencies Advisor – The person who is solely responsible should the civic centre blow up but otherwise ignored

Service accountant – The person who ensures that the Council’s budget balances regardless of whether you’ve spent your money unwisely

Graduate Trainee – Odd job person

Third sector development manager – Getting others to do the work Councils used to do

Energy Officer – Ensuring the Council runs on Mars bars and Red Bull

Learning and Development Coordinator – Helping staff get careers outside Local Government

Information Governance Manager – Stopping Officers leaving memory sticks on trains

Performance Officer – Telling people off through the art of figures

Scrutiny Officer – Either: Trying to find the problems and fixing them before the media do. Or, The Spanish Inquisition as portrayed by Monty Python. Or, (to keep the Catholic theme), Devil’s Advocates.

Democratic Officer – Either: Holding Councillors hands, or, Oiling and turning the cogs of democracy

Policy Officer – Translating the Leader and SMT’s dreams on to paper and then pulling out their hair trying to work out how they would work in practice.

Chief Executive’s PA – The real power

You see how much better these work then their respective job titles? Those people who do the above jobs, if you use the above alternatives, I promise you, you will get the boy or girl. So the next time you advertise for a job (I’m told this mythical activity still happens), change the job title into one that means something. Or the next time you feel out a form asking for your job title put down one of the above. I’m sure a Devil’s Advocate will get better insurance then a Scrutiny Officer. Either way lets start this revolution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can you think of any other alternative job titles tweet them #myrealjobis or put them below.

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at: welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com

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5 Comments on “What’s in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell so sweet”

  1. Kat Says:

    Well I would tell you what my real job is… if only I knew!!

  2. Philly Says:

    Love this post! I often have trouble describing what I do to friends and family, and as you point out they normally switch off after about 3 seconds. Maybe if I started stating that I “hold Councillors’ hands” for a living I might generate a bit more attention…

  3. Patrick Says:

    Why not call DSO’s clerks? That’s what our old job title was? (The Philly I briefly knew, got plenty of attention. I still get comments from Councillors saying that I’m not as pretty as her…)


  4. I was once dragging rubbish out of my yard so I could put it in a skip when a resident who knew who I was had a rant at me, ending with: what’s your environment policy, then? To which I replied: how on earth should I know, I do licensing and schools admissions & transfers. But, give me your phone number, and when I’m go to work next week I’ll phone you with the details of the Cabinet Member for Environment. He didn’t want to know, and went off still ranting.


  5. [...] SERVICE COMMISSION)Government Technical RecruiterThe City Course 2012 – Applications Are OpenWhat’s in a name body {font-family:'lucida grande', Verdana, Sans-Serif;} h2, h3, h4, h5 ,h6 {color:#000000} h2 a, [...]


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