Let’s Retire “Guru” and “Rock Star” from the Workplace Lexicon

If you’re in favor of blowing up “guru” and “rock star” in job descriptions or in reference to your employees and/or co-workers, then please help by retweeting this post.

Yes, I admit that I’m also guilty of having used these descriptors.  In a recent post in fact, I referred to our public relations intern as a “rock star.”  What I was trying to convey is that our intern is a high performing individual and is doing an excellent job for us.  But I guess I thought I would be perceived as hip (‘er, hipper), especially among younger readers, if I used what is still perceived by many to be a progressive way to refer to someone’s capabilities.

Looking back,  I think just the opposite is true.  “Guru” and “rock star” have become so overused, beginning in the dot.com period of the late 90’s and continuing to the present day, that they are now rendered meaningless.

I did a quick search on “guru” on Indeed, the big job site.  The search returned 6,507 job descriptions with the word “guru” in the actual job title or the word “guru” in the description.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Monster (Cable) PowerPoint GuruThe Monster PowerPoint Guru will play an integral role in ensuring that employees grasp all aspects and/or levels of the “Monster Way” and “Monster Attitude” as a means to propel our success as it relates to Monster’s vision, mission, goals and overall success

 … Not really clear to me why this candidate has to be of “guru” status.

WordPress GuruNeed to create a WordPress Project in 2-3 Days. If you are a WordPress Guru, please send me a message. I need this project done ASAP so please only respond if you have time to complete with 3 days

 ... To me, a real “WordPress guru” would be too busy to take on any project ASAP.

Outdoor Education Guru (for YMCA) — People WANTED for HAZARDOUS journey. SMALL wages, BITTER cold, SEARING heat and DRIVING rain, LONG Months OF COMPLETE madNESS, CONSTANT DANGER of actually loving your job, RETURN to previous life DOUBTFUL. HONOR and RECOGNITION in case of SUCCESS.

… Love the description, but the job hardly requires a “guru.” I think someone who has a love of the outdoors and is physically fit would suffice.

College Textbook guruPerfect job! Shipping and receiving college textbooks, scanning, packing, sorting, etc. Need basic computer skills, great attendance and great attitude! Position requires standing for long periods of times. Must be quick and accurate. You will LOVE this job! Overtime is likely and is mandatory.

… Again, a guru. Really?  Sounds like a solid clerical job to me, but not much more.

Geez, it almost seems that if you’re not a “guru” or a “rock star,” then you might as well not even consider applying for any job or even showing up for work these days.

So an important question:  what are you if you’re neither guru or rock star, but yet you’re extremely competent at your job?  A former colleague of mine refers to these types as “Steady Eddies.”   David M. Taylor, who wrote, “Strength Zone: Discover Your Place of Maximum Effectiveness,” says “ ‘S’ type personalities are the ‘Steady Eddie’ people among us that concentrate on people rather than tasks .. place more attention on others than on themselves. These people are the ones that you can always rely on in any situation. These are the Florence Nightengales of this world, the Barbara Bushes, the Mother Teresas. They love to help other people and work hard to create a stable environment at work and at home.”

Hmm, sounds more like a “rock star” to me.

Sad to think Florence or Mother Teresa wouldn’t quality for the thousands of “guru” and “rock star” jobs available these days, isn’t it?

Oh, and I did search “Steady Eddie” on Indeed. Yeah, nothing.

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2 Responses to Let’s Retire “Guru” and “Rock Star” from the Workplace Lexicon

  1. Interesting article. Also what got my attention was the “Monster Cable” blurb. This company just contacted me through LinkedIn and in their message they said they are looking for a Presentation Designer “Guru”.

    Your right, “Guru” and “Rockstar” are so over used.



  2. Thanks for your comment, Scott. I think much of the time, companies who are using “guru” in their job descriptions are appealing to the ego of the applicant. So if you think of yourself as a “presentation designer guru”, then go for it. Good luck!

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