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‘Intergalactic king’ and other job titles of distinction

In a high-tech, social media world, people come up with some really wild job titles

Illustration by Mitch Blunt

RECEPTIONIST? So commonplace. Try director of first impressions instead.

Salesman? Totally 20th century. Sales ninja is more like it.

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Web producer? That could be anybody. But the duke of URL - that’s someone to remember.

In this age of informality, job titles are a lot more playful than they used to be. The changing online landscape has brought about a new crop of occupations - and workers who have learned to express their individuality on Facebook and Twitter. Copy writers and design directors might not stand out from the crowd, but copy crunchers and designers extraordinaire do.

Business card printer Moo.com reports more orders from customers with unorthodox job titles in the last few years. People trying to get ahead in a down economy are using such titles to build their personal brands, said Paul Lewis, marketing rock star at London-based Moo.

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Lee Kane, a former Whole Foods store manager, asked to be called the EcoCzar when he was put in charge of the supermarket chain’s environmental initiatives in the Northeast. Kane, who also holds the position of regional forager (overseeing acquisition of local products), is appropriately czar-like when it comes to protecting his unique title. He won’t allow any of the 11 green mission specialists who do the same job elsewhere in the country to share that distinction. “There’s only room for one EcoCzar,’’ he said, “and I’m he.’’

Frank Nuessel, a language professor at the University of Louisville and author of “The Study of Names,’’ warns that 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.’’

But many people clearly don’t take their offbeat titles too seriously. At Google, head of space initiatives Tiffany Montague - who oversees the company’s collaborations with NASA and the commercial space industry - has Intergalactic Federation King Almighty and Commander of the Universe printed on her business cards. The Cambridge game company SCVNGR is run by chief ninja Seth Priebatsch, and the Boston advertising firm Conover Tuttle Pace employs workflow and wellness guru Angela Bassiri.

Nancy Friedman, chief wordworker at the naming company Wordworking in Oakland, Calif., started seeing nontraditional titles pop up during the dot-com era in the late 1990s. To her, they say, “We’re young and brash. We work in lofts and wear Converse sneakers and jeans. We don’t want three-piece-suit titles.’’

Darin Hager is the CEO, or chief everything officer, at Heyday Footwear, based in Framingham. With only two other staff members - including his assistant, the gatekeeper - he really does do everything: design, development, traveling to the factory in China, customer service, overseeing shoe photography and website design, and working with celebrities who wear his shoes.

Not only is it an accurate title, he said, handing people a business card with “chief everything officer’’ makes an impression.

“It just makes for a really memorable five seconds. And I want to have people remember me and remember the brand as much as possible,’’ Hager said. “I’m 40 years old, my brand is worn by teenagers, and I need to look the part.’’

Katie Johnston can be reached at kjohnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.
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