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

Regrets of the Dying / Living

I’ve recently read this article called ‘Regrets of the Dying’ which I found to be breathtaking. The author worked for many years in palliative care, with patients on the dying bed, and the article synthesizes the most common regrets these people had.

Not only that I enjoyed this article, but it also inspired me to write my own reply article to Regrets of the Dying, with a focus on the regrets of the living.

Regrets as Life Lessons

I’ve never worked with people on their dying bed and I hope I never will. However, as a communication coach and a (sometimes) social animal, I did have my share of interactions with people who:

  • Were getting old and becoming highly aware of the passing time;
  • Were getting sick and becoming highly aware of their fragility;
  • Were seriously contemplating their lives and deaths for some reason;

Being sort of a collector of life lessons and people skills wisdom, I was curious to find out what regrets these people had looking back at their lives, to extract valuable lessons. So I asked many of them about this and consequently, I got my data on regrets of the living who are contemplating dying.

The Essential Three Regrets

Since I have a passion for people skills, the regrets I focused on finding out were of course in the area of people skills and how these persons interacted with other human beings. Here are the 3 essential regrets I’ve discovered:

1. I wish I did what I wanted instead of what others wanted.

I had many people telling me things such as:

  • “I wish I didn’t study and work in Engineering because my family wanted me to do so. I whish I had chosen Sociology instead, which was my real passion.”
  • “I wish I didn’t get married so fast because all my friends were getting married and expected me to do the same soon. I wished I had stayed single longer.”

In moments of meaningful contemplation, almost all the people I know seem to discover that living the way they want is or would have been much more rewarding than living a life pleasing others, no matter who those others are.

2. I wish I didn’t take what others thought of me so seriously.

When people look back at how they have lived their lives, many tend to discover they’ve spent a lot of time worrying what others thought of them. Of course, they also discover this was a huge waste of time, because most worrying was pointless.

Knowing they are going to die soon gives people a lot of perspective on how important others’ opinions about them are. Almost every time, they discover they’re not important. You could probably piss off half the people you know and that still wouldn’t have any serious negative consequences on your life, so it wouldn’t really matter.

3. I wish I’d spent more with the most valuable people in my life.

A vast number of people discover they misallocated their time resources. They didn’t spend enough time interacting with the most valuable people in their lives and they’ve spent too much time interacting with part of the rest. Why? Because they falsely believed they didn’t have a choice.

If you think about it, your life is a sum of experiences. So the quality of your life is fundamentally the quality of those experiences. If you realize at a deep level that you’ve wasted your most valuable resource on secondhand human interactions, then no excuse for doing this seems sufficient.

There is one key difference between the regrets of the dying and the regrets of the living. The dying don’t really have the time left to correct their mistakes. They can only teach others valuable lessons, about people skills and life.

The living on the other hand do have the time; but they need to stop every once in a while, look back at their lives and ask themselves: Is this how I want to live the rest of my life?

Yes, I’m talking about me and you…

Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney