What Do You Do For a Living? The Better Way to Answer

What do you do for a living?” – I ask him eager to do some chill networking. As I say this, my mind is automatically thinking: “Here comes another crappy answer I’ll have to work with”.

You might say that’s pessimistic of me; I say it’s more of an educated guess. It’s not that they’re not a lot of people out there with interesting jobs they’re passionate about. It’s just that they haven’t learned or haven’t considered the people skill of talking about them in a powerful way.

You see, answering “What do you do for a living?” in a stylish way is a great method to get the other person interested in the conversation, in your person, and to brand yourself. As a communication coach, there are a number of things I find important in answering this question.

Use a Suggestive Title for What You Do

It’s not important to use the exact job title in your job description in a conversation, even if it’s a business conversation. I sometimes meet a person who according to the JD is an ‘Executive Assistant’, but their job is much more of an HR job. ‘HR Assistant’ works a lot better as a title for them.

The point is to use a job title that realistically reflects the nature of the things you do in your job or the type of impact you have.

There is one answer to “What do you do for a living” that I find particularly bad: “I’m a consultant”. That doesn’t tell me shit about your job! They’re a zillion consultants out there.

Be Memorable

Some titles, they may be suggestive for what you do, but they simply aren’t remarkable in any way. Of course, there are plenty of ways to be memorable; you don’t need to desperately seek being memorable through your job title, but it is certainly a big bonus, especially in jobs where personal branding matters the most.

This is why I encourage you to use a memorable title for your job. Alain Cardon could have called himself a ‘Life Coach’, but he calls himself a ‘Breakthrough Catalyst’. Mars Dorian could have called himself a ‘Blogger’ but he calls himself a ‘Digital Crusader’. These are the kind of titles that stand out and they stick.

Follow-Up with an Exciting Explanation

After you’ve said your job title to answer the question, do not stop there. A title may be cool, suggestive and sexy, but it’s still only a title.

You want to do is continue with a short and powerful description of your job. Again, it’s important to remain clear and memorable. Some things to consider adding to this description are:

  • What you do exactly. Ex: “I speak on the area of Customer Service at conferences all over the world”.
  • What practical benefit you create: Ex: “I help organizations improve they way they interact with their customers and increase customer loyalty”.
  • Why what you do is important for you. Ex: “I believe that good results start with good customer service”.

But Eduard, What If I Have a Job I Hate and I Don’t Want to Talk About?

For this not so uncommon scenario, the first significant thing I can tell you is that you’d better at least have an aim for a different career and know what that career is.

Based on this, when you answer the question you can name your current job and then quickly move on to talking about the job you’re aiming for.

You may say something like: “I now work as a Sales Agent in an FMCG company, but I’m training to become a Career Coach. I have a passion for helping people find their way”.

The more you master your people skills and the better you present yourself, the more you “attract” all sorts of remarkable people and breathtaking career opportunities. And it often all starts with answering in style one simple question.

Image courtesy of Lucid Dreams

The Smart Things to Do For Charity

In the realm of people skills, it seems to me that to do things for charity is generally a much appreciated set of behaviors. This gets me thinking about whether charity activities are truly that good by themselves, or it depends on how exactly you do them.

Some friends of mine recently got involved in some volunteer work, planting trees as part of an ecological project. I respect the intention a lot, but I started wondering about this kind of work in relation with myself: Is this the best thing for me to do for charity? Is using a shovel the best I have to offer?

Let’s look at some of the popular things to do for charity: planting trees, collecting garbage, handing-out flyers, building stuff and feeding people. They all involve a lot of hand work and a blue-collar type set of skills.

Now let’s look at the profile and skills of people who do things for charity: they are often smart, responsible, well educated, and financially stable. They have professional, white-collar type skills like accounting, sales, management, HR, training, PR etc.

Do you see an incompatibility here? These friends of mine I’m talking about, they have some very good professional and people skills. But they do not involve digging, moving heavy stuff or working in the cold. Yet, like a lot of people who do things for charity, they opt for this kind of stuff, instead of something which is connected with their skills.

Why? This, from my perspective, is impractical. If the point of charity activities is to help others as much as you can, then it makes sense to choose things to do for charity which you’re very good at. The smart way to do charity involves these steps:

  • Know your top strengths and skills, know how you can provide the most value;
  • Identify charity activities which make use of these strengths and skills;
  • Do those as charity instead of following the pack.

I know that a lot of times, skilled people end up volunteering in work that doesn’t mach their skills because they believe these are the kind of things which charity is about. But this is a false presumption. You can do charity and help other in a lot of ways.

Think of rock stars that don’t do charity by planting trees, but by doing charity concerts and using their top skills: singing, entertaining. And they raise a tone of money. Think of people who just give money for charity and they spend their time working in something they’re good at, making those money.

My version of doing things for charity is that every once in a while I coach, train or speak for free at different events, for various organizations, on topics gravitating around people skills. This is what I know best. But I don’t go out there moving sacks of cement from one place to another, which a 14-year old could do better than me.

In the area of people skills, doing things for charity is truly a mastered skilled if you do it in the right way, the efficient way. Then, you’re truly helping the people in need to a great degree, instead of just doing stuff so you can feel good about yourself. This is for me, what charity is all about.