Das Portal von Handelsblatt und WirtschaftsWoche

What's in a name ?

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von Business Spotlight
Der Hausmeister nennt sich Facility Manager, der Vertreter rüscht sich zum Sales Representative auf. Ein englischer Jobtitel macht sich auch auf dem deutschen Arbeitsmarkt gut. Doch Ian McMaster weiß, was den Manager vom CEO unterscheidet.
I've got some very good news that I'd like to share with you. I've been promoted at Spotlight Verlag. My official title is now Chief Happiness Officer (CHO).

You don't believe me? You think the title sounds ridiculous? Well, you're right, it was a joke. But a major international company really did appoint a Chief Happiness Officer recently. McDonald's promoted their clown mascot, Ronald McDonald, to this important position

Die besten Jobs von allen


At one time, there was really only one "Chief" title that was commonly used: Chief Executive Officer (CEO), sometimes shortened to "Chief Executive". There are a number of possible German translations for this term, including (Haupt-)Geschäftsführer, Geschäftsführender Direktor and Vorsitzender der Geschäftsführung, although the English term is also used

"Chief" shows that this person is the head or boss, as in a Native American tribe; "executive" is simply another word for manager; and "officer" is an army rank that is commonly used in business titles in English. Other similar titles to CEO are "General Manager" or "Managing Director". In many companies, particularly in the US, the position of chairman (Vorsitzender) and chief executive is held by the same person. In the UK, the chairman is often a separate person

Chief Financial Officer (CFO; Finanzleiter, Finanzvorstand) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) are two other common "Chief" positions. But the Internet boom also brought with it titles such as CMO (Chief Morale Officer), CTO (Chief Talent Officer) and even CXO (Chief Experience Officer). It remains to be seen whether such titles become widely used

If you are in charge of a department (Abteilungsleiter), you are likely to be called "Head of Sales" or "Head of Marketing". Within a department, you might be the "Head of Division" or "Division Head" (Bereichsleiter)

Translating job titles is difficult not only because of cultural difference between countries but also because there is so much variation of use - and job content - between companies. For example, the terms "officer", "manager" and "executive" are commonly used lower down the company hierarchy, too. And someone who is a "Sales Executive" or a "Marketing Manager" is not necessarily in a top position

Certain classic German job titles are very difficult to translate into English. The term Sachbearbeiter has no direct equivalent. In this case, you need to give some idea of what you actually do in your job. For example, "I work in the customer service department" or "I'm a sales clerk". "Clerk" is a typical term for an office worker (Büroangestellter, Sachbearbeiter). In the English-speaking world, it is very unusual to use academic qualifications as job titles. The German title Diplom-Ingenieur(in) would normally simply be "engineer" in English.

Another important point to remember when introducing yourself in English is that you need to use "a" before your profession. For example: "I'm an engineer"; "I'm a lawyer".

There is also a big difference between saying "I'm the sales manager at ..." and "I'm a sales manager". The first case suggests that you are the head of sales, whereas in the second case it sounds as though you are one of many sales managers further down the hierarchy

Finally, look at the following list of job titles and try to work out what they have in common:
-> Design and Process Engineer
-> Engineering Consultant
-> Facility Manager
-> Financial Controller
-> Junior Product Manager
-> Key Account Manager
-> Marketing Manager
-> Office Manager
-> Sales Representative (Packaging)
-> Senior Consultant
-> Vice President (Sales)

The answer is that they are all German titles. All eleven titles were in German job advertisements in one recent edition of a national daily newspaper. Who said German was difficult for English-speakers?
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 21.11.2003