Ever see online ads calling for an IT rock star, ninja, Jedi, mighty eagle or kingpin? They're designed to serve as code words for only "A" players need apply. Recruiters claim these unconventional and unusual job titles, along with colorful headlines, help them stand out in a sea of advertisements and, more importantly, attract hot candidates. "Companies typically advertise for ninjas when they need a really innovative, outside-the-box thinker," says Jenn Tran, technology trainer for CyberCoders, a nationwide recruiting firm based in Irvine, Calif. "Creative job titles actually do attract strong candidates because you have to be pretty confident to call yourself a rock star."

Top dog, Superstar or Just Plain Joe

"Whatever you want to call yourself is fine with me, just be sure you back it up in your resume," said Colin Peterson, senior recruiter with Venator Ventures, a boutique recruiting firm based in American Fork, Utah. Peterson says HR professionals might be put-off by bold claims or non-traditional job titles, while IT recruiters usually zero in on a candidate’s project experience and technical skills, so it's still a good idea to tailor your brand and resume toward your audience. "As long as you present your skills accurately and tailor your brand and image toward the audience and job description, there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a ninja or Jedi," says Tran. However, to make sure your resume is selected by recruiters during keyword searches, list your real job title in parenthesis and be sure to provide a brief description of your technical skills and projects. Be careful about using profanity or potentially offensive language to describe your attributes or previous positions because you never know when your resume may end up on an executive's desk. Frank Nuessel, a language professor at the University of Louisville and author of  "The Study of Names," warned in an interview with The Boston Globethat holders of quirky titles should be careful that the job description doesn’t provide an exaggerated sense of what they do. "Your business card is a projection of you as a person," Nuessel said. "If you give yourself a pompous job title, that’s going to go with you.’"

Related links