How to Answer the “What Do You Do for a Living?” Question

Let ’ s say you ’ re attending an consequence for work .
You know some of the attendees, but not all of them. Some people are handing out business cards ; others are talking to their colleagues .
What Do You Do for a Living QuestionWhat Do You Do for a Living QuestionWhat Do You Do for a Living Question
How do you answer the question: “What Do You Do for a Living?” (photo source)

After getting a drink, you head over to your ally .
then person joins you, and after a brief introduction asks, “ What do you do for a live ? ”

We hear this interview a set, we ask this interview a distribute .
But few of us think hard about what our answer means to others .

The Typical Responses to the Question: “What Do You Do for a Living?”

Some people automatically answer this interrogate with their job title .
Those who respond with a general job title sometimes do it to avoid confusing people, like Anna Daugherty, a Digital Marketing Manager at PITSS America LLC .

“ When people ask me what I do, the shortest answer I give is : I ‘m the marketing director for a technical school company. ”

It ’ south short and to the point, but it doesn ’ t fully describe what she does or the kind of engineering company she works for .

Compare this with saying, “We’re experts in application modernization and digital transformation for legacy Oracle systems,” which Daugherty agrees is a mouthful and often leads to blank, confused stares in conversations.

Others try to be funny or avoid the doubt entirely .
The truth is, it ’ second hard to blame people who try to avoid the question with humor. Who knows, they might have tried answering immediately ahead but got tired of explaining the complexities of their occupation, or the stereotypes they had to deal with .

The True Question

If you think about it, the question “ What do you do for work ? ” can be interpreted in different ways :

  • How do you earn a salary?
  • How much do you make?
  • What is your social status?
  • Are you richer than me?
  • Is my job title above or below you?
  • Is this person worth my attention?

That ’ sulfur why in some cases, asking person what they do for a living can come across as dysphemistic .

Situations Where this Question is Offensive

1. A Condescending Tone

Asking this motion with a derisive or arrogant tone sends the wrong message. It ’ mho as if you ’ re assuming the early person is unemployed people or earning less than you are .

2. At a Hospital or Religious Service

Places where people might be grieving or facing a challenge time in their life aren ’ triiodothyronine beneficial venues for such a question .
Why ?
These people are stressed and burdened with problems, which makes them prone to seeing the doubt in a negative light. The question might be interpreted as, “ possibly you ’ ra not working hard adequate or possibly you ’ re not earning adequate, differently this wouldn ’ t have happened to you. ”

3. Cultures That Value Privacy

Asking “ What do you do for a life ” is offensive in some european countries, because it ’ randomness seen as an invasion of their privacy .
As some Quora answers suggest in this ribbon, work matters aren ’ metric ton openly discussed with strangers in european countries, and it ’ s not a culturally accepted conversation starter like in the U.S. They would quite you ask about their preference in vacation spots and sports team, at least according to the thread .

The Importance of Answering Well

Behind the double meanings, this question gives you a probability to shape how people perceive you .
Answer correctly, people will get curious about what you do. If you ’ rhenium lucky, you might amaze some people and make others jealous. You get clamant credibility and new-found friends in whatever event you ’ re in .
If your answer is bore, you ’ ll just get a civil nod and the conversation finally dies down. then you ’ ll be standing on your own, wondering what to do or who to approach next .
Wouldn ’ t it be amazing to answer confidently and get a positive reaction every time ?

Answering Strategies Based on Social Context

Since this question can be interpreted in different ways, you don ’ t have to limit your answer to your sidereal day job. The best answer depends on where and why the doubt is asked .

Casual or Social Gatherings

In this situation, the question “ What do you do for a live ” is a conversation crank .
Yes, it ’ south bore. But it ’ randomness condom to ask and people are already expecting to hear it .
You might feel uncomfortable answering this question, specially if there are minus stereotypes surrounding your occupation or if few people understand it .

Here Is a Conversation I Overheard at a Party

Friend: “I’m a social media manager”

Stranger: “Oh so you spend the whole day playing on Facebook?”

For some jobs, you ’ ra golden to get a wyrd or funny story response like this. Others good get a blank gaze because people don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know how to react to their jobs .
Worse yet, some subcontract titles make people desperate to leave your company .
barely imagine how some people would react after hearing, “ I ’ m a fiscal adviser. ”
If you ’ re financially understanding, you credibly won ’ thymine catch scared off. Others are quick to end the conversation, because they feel like the other person will start convincing them to get an investment history or life insurance .
Remember, you ’ re in a casual event. No one is doing any job interviews or looking for anything to buy. even if such events offer an opportunity to meet electric potential clients and employers, that ’ s not the point of the event .
following time person asks you this, try to gauge their reason for asking .
then tell them what you ’ rhenium passionate about, and then ask about their interests .

Your Conversation Might Go Like This

Stranger: “What do you do?”

You: “I’m passionate about cooking and scuba diving. What do you love to do?”

Your acquaintance will either :

  • Get curious
  • Tell you what they like doing
  • Give you a blank stare, because they’re not expecting your response
  • Reply with their job title, not knowing you didn’t ask the same question

finally, you will start talking about the things you love .
Isn ’ t this better than talking about your job in a party where people are trying to forget about their function problems ?

Business Events

This includes trade shows, job fairs, seminars, training events, conferences, boot camps, and any early event where you meet people for work or business. For freelancers and those working at startups, this can besides include net mixers and startup peddle competitions .
In general, you ’ ll fitting two types of people in these events :

  • Regular attendees: event participants whose primary goals are to learn and meet new people.
  • Decision-makers: these people could be speakers, business owners, venture capitalists, angel investors, or recruiters. Anyone looking to hire, provide funds, collaborate, or do business with someone they find in such an event is a decision-maker.

Of course, decision-makers don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate attend these events just to scout people. They ’ ra besides there to learn and make new connections as well. So they have lots to do and little time to do it in.

Because of this, they try to avoid information overload. Decision-makers only talk to people that interest them, and they ’ ra agile to decide who is worth their fourth dimension .
Below are two ways you can be worthy of their attention .

1. Focus on a Niche

Focus on a niche to avoid getting labeled as a commodity. here a good model :

Designer: “I’m a designer specializing in wall mural designs for restaurants and retail stores.”

That sounds more matter to than merely saying you ’ re a graphic designer. If you say this, people will wonder if they ’ ve seen your employment earlier .
here ‘s another recess example :

Health Insurance: “I help Baby Boomers navigate their entry into Medicare.”

This is better than saying, “ Our agency sells Medicare supplements, ” says Danielle Kunkle of Boomer Benefits. It identifies their target audience and niche, Medicare and Baby Boomers .

Kunkle continues, “People stereotype insurance agents as a sort of used-car salesman, and we differentiate ourselves from this by being educators first and salespeople second.” 

Notice the words “ indemnity ” and “ sell, ” typical words on elevator pitches of indemnity professionals, are not in Kunkle ’ s answer .

2. Mention a Problem You Solve

talk about the challenges or problems you solve as part of your job. It ’ randomness flush better if you can paint this problem as a dilemma, an offspring with no acquit solution .
exemplar for a Fitness flight simulator :

“I’m a Fitness trainer specializing in creating easy and fun exercise programs for clients who don’t enjoy going to the gym.”

The first interview you ’ ll credibly get with this introduction is, “ How do you do that ? ” Others might think you create home exercise television then upload them on YouTube, but either means this answer gives you an opportunity to continue the conversation .
You might think these two strategies only apply if you have an interest profession. That ’ second why I used platitude jobs as an example .
Whatever you do, you can make it sound concern by highlighting your forte or the problems you solve .

Networking Events

“ What do you do ? ” is a common interview in network events .
Whatever job style or description you use to answer this doubt scantily tells the wholly narrative of what you do. Yet the bare mention of a occupation entitle subconsciously triggers people to judge you, based on what they know of your work .

A Couple Clear Examples of This

Job 1: Programmer in Silicon Valley
Stereotype: Cushy 6-figure wage, stares at the computer all sidereal day, probably an over-inflated ego
Job 2: Career Coach

Stereotype: “People are either suspicious, or they immediately tell me everything they hate about their careers. Coaching gets a bad rap because it’s easier to tell others what to do, than to make changes yourself”, says Career Coach Carlota Zimmerman.

To avoid stereotypes, think of your answer as the beginning step in teaching the other person about you and your job. Share something little known about your profession rather of answering with your job title alone .

Examples of Information to Share

  • Latest events in your industry
  • Interesting information you learned recently
  • Misconceptions about your job
  • Work trivia

3 More Strategies to Better Answer “What Do You Do For a Living?”

1. Share a Story

Tell a report about one of your more exciting days at work. When possible, include context to help the hearer understand the more technical aspects of your job .
not certain how to tell your business ’ sulfur story ? This tutorial can help you :

2. Show Your Weak Side

Being vulnerable shows humility, which can dispel negative stereotypes attached to some high-paying jobs .
lecture about the struggles you faced in your travel, and some of the sacrifices you made along the way. Sharing your mistakes and challenges humanizes you, and makes people more probable to open up to you adenine well .

3. Show Others What Your Job Means for them

Show others how your problem is relevant to their daily life. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate concern ; it ’ randomness easier than it sounds even if your subcontract is technical or complicated .
Your Job: Penetration Specialist. Sounds drilling, veracious ?
not if you describe it in this way :

Stranger: What do you do?

You: I fight bad guys looking to steal your money and private information.

Stranger: Are you a police officer?

You: No, I try to break into websites (with permission) so I can find loopholes in their online security. Then I help them write code to strengthen their website’s defenses so hackers can’t get in to steal your data.

It sounds more intrigue compared to describing yourself as a hacker or programmer .
Job: Money Lender for Real Estate Investors

“I’m a hard money lender specializing in working with real estate investors doing flips, holds, and new construction.”

“When I tell people this, their eyes glaze, I get a confused nod, and we move on with life”, says Aaron Norris of The Norris Group.

now he responds in a way that makes his influence conversant to people with no real estate background .

“Have you ever seen shows like ‘Flip this House’ on HGTV? We provide loans for their projects.”

Norris admits this response doesn ’ t in full explain his employment. But hearing the television receiver express ’ randomness mention helps people connect the dots between what ‘s on the television receiver testify and his line of work .

Some Situations Call for Self-Promotion

“ What do you do for a live ? ”
How you answer this wonder shapes people ’ s first impression of you .
In casual settings, it ’ mho all right to answer this with no captive to promote yourself or your business .
But what about the other times, when you meet a decision-maker that could potentially hire you or do clientele with your company ?
You shouldn ’ t think twice about promoting yourself .
You ’ re doing yourself and others a party favor by talking about what you ’ re adept at. If your skills can solve the problem of whoever you ’ re talking to, then it ’ s not self-promotion. alternatively, it ’ s a bipartisan street where you help each other out .
That ’ second why you should constantly have an elevator pitch and personal brand statement ready. Read these Envato Tuts+ guides to learn how to create a personal mark that goes beyond your speculate title :

How do you handle the interview “ What do you do for a populate, ” and how do you adapt it to unlike social situations ? Let us know your best tips in the forum .
Browse through our  professional resume templates  on Envato Elements or  GraphicRiver  to find a great resume design.
column note : This capacity was primitively published in 2017. We ‘re sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is however accurate and relevant .

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Category : Health

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