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Let’s say you’re attending an occasion for work.

You are watching: What do you do for a living meaning

You know some the the attendees, yet not all of them. Some people are handing out cards; others are talking to your colleagues.

How perform you answer the question: "What perform You execute for a Living?” (photo source)

After acquiring a drink, you head over to your friend.

Then someone joins you, and also after a brief development asks, “What carry out you do for a living?”

We hear this inquiry a lot, us ask this inquiry a lot.

But few of united state think hard about what our answer way to others.

The common Responses to the Question: "What carry out You perform for a Living?"

Some people instantly answer this inquiry with their job title.

Those who respond through a basic job title periodically do it to prevent confusing people, choose Anna Daugherty, a Digital Marketing Manager at PITSS America LLC.

“When world ask me what i do, the shortest price I offer is: I"m the marketing manager because that a technology company.”

It’s short and to the point, yet it doesn’t fully describe what she does or the sort of modern technology company she functions for.

Compare this through saying, “We’re experts in application modernization and also digital revolution for tradition Oracle systems,” i beg your pardon Daugherty agrees is a mouthful and often leads to blank, confused stares in conversations.

Others shot to be funny or stop the question entirely.

The reality is, it’s hard to blame civilization who shot to prevent the concern with humor. That knows, they might have tried answering directly before but got worn down of explaining the complexities of their job, or the stereotypes they had to deal with.

The True Question

If friend think around it, the question “What perform you perform for work?” deserve to be taken in various ways:

How perform you earn a salary?How much do friend make?What is her social status?Are girlfriend richer 보다 me?Is my project title over or listed below you?Is this human worth my attention?

That’s why in some cases, questioning someone what they execute for a living have the right to come across as offensive.

Situations wherein this inquiry is Offensive

1. A Condescending Tone

Asking this question with a derisive or arrogant tone sends the dorn message. It’s together if you’re assuming the other human is unemployment or earning less than you are.

2. In ~ a Hospital or religious Service

Places where people might be grieving or facing a challenging time in their life aren’t good venues for such a question.


These human being are stressed and burdened with problems, which provides them at risk to see the inquiry in a an adverse light. The question can be interpreted as, “Maybe she not working hard enough or perhaps you’re no earning enough, otherwise this wouldn’t have actually happened come you.”

3. Cultures That value Privacy

Asking “What do you perform for a living” is attack in some European countries, due to the fact that it’s seen as an invasion of their privacy.

As part Quora answers imply in this thread, work matters aren’t openly discussed with strangers in europe countries, and also it’s not a culturally embraced conversation starter prefer in the U.S. Castle would fairly you ask about their preference in vacation spots and also sports team, at the very least according to the thread. 

The prominence of comment Well

Behind the double meanings, this question provides you a possibility to form how human being perceive you.

Answer correctly, civilization will obtain curious around what friend do. If she lucky, you might amaze some people and also make rather jealous. You obtain instant credibility and also new-found girlfriend in whatever occasion you’re in.

If her answer is boring, you will do it just gain a polite nod and the conversation eventually dies down. Then you’ll it is in standing on her own, wondering what to execute or who to approach next.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to price confidently and get a positive response every time?

Answering Strategies based upon Social Context

Since this question deserve to be construed in different ways, girlfriend don’t have to limit your answer to her day job. The best answer depends on where and why the question is asked.

Casual or society Gatherings

In this situation, the concern “What execute you carry out for a living” is a conversation starter.

Yes, that boring. However it’s for sure to ask and people are currently expecting come hear it.

You could feel uncomfortable answering this question, particularly if over there are an unfavorable stereotypes surrounding your project or if few people understand it. 

Here Is a Conversation i Overheard in ~ a PartyFriend: “I’m a society media manager”Stranger: Oh therefore you invest the whole day play on Facebook?”

For part jobs, you’re lucky to obtain a monster or funny an answer like this. Rather just acquire a blank stare since people nothing know just how to reaction to your jobs.

Worse yet, some project titles make world desperate come leave your company.

Just imagine how some world would reaction after hearing, “I’m a gaue won adviser.”

If you financially savvy, you most likely won’t acquire scared off. Others are quick to finish the conversation, because they feel prefer the other human will begin convincing lock to acquire an investment account or life insurance. 

Remember, she in a casual event. Nobody is doing any job interviews or trying to find anything to buy. Even if such events offer an possibility to meet potential clients and employers, that’s not the allude of the event.

Next time who asks friend this, shot to gauge their reason for asking.

Then tell them what you’re passionate about, and then ask about their interests.

Your Conversation might Go like ThisStranger: “What do you do?”You: “I’m passionate around cooking and also scuba diving. What carry out you love come do?”

Your acquaintance will certainly either:

Get curiousTell friend what they prefer doingGive girlfriend a blank stare, due to the fact that they’re no expecting her responseReply v their task title, not discovering you no ask the same question

Eventually, friend will begin talking about the things you love. 

Isn’t this much better than talking about your project in a party where world are trying to forget around their office problems? Events

This includes trade shows, job fairs, seminars, training events, conferences, boots camps, and also any other occasion where you meet world for occupational or Because that freelancers and also those working at startups, this can additionally include network mixers and also startup pitch competitions.

In general, you’ll accomplish two species of people in these events:

Regular attendees: occasion participants whose major goals room to learn and meet brand-new people.Decision-makers: these human being could be speakers, owners, venture capitalists, angel investors, or recruiters. Anyone looking come hire, administer funds, collaborate, or execute through someone they find in such an occasion is a decision-maker.

Of course, decision-makers don’t to visit these events just come scout people. They’re also there to learn and make new connections together well. So they have actually lots to do and little time to do it in.

Because that this, they try to avoid details overload. Decision-makers only talk to human being that interest them, and also they’re rapid to decide who is worth their time.

Below space two means you deserve to be worthy of their attention.

1. Focus on a Niche

Focus on a niche come avoid getting labeled as a commodity. Right here a great example: 

Designer: “I’m a designer specializing in wall surface mural designs because that restaurants and also retail stores.”

That sounds much more interesting than just saying she a designer. If you say this, people will wonder if they’ve viewed your job-related before.

Here"s another niche example:

Health Insurance: “I assist Baby Boomers navigate your entry right into Medicare.”

This is better than saying, “Our company sells Medicare supplements,” says daniel Kunkle the Boomer Benefits. The identifies your target audience and niche, Medicare and also Baby Boomers.

Kunkle continues, “People stereotype insurance agents together a sort of used-car salesman, and we differentiate ourselves native this by gift educators an initial and salespeople second.” 

Notice the words “insurance” and “sell,” common words on elevator pitches of insurance professionals, room not in Kunkle’s answer.

2. Point out a difficulty You Solve

Talk around the challenges or troubles you settle as component of your job. That even better if you have the right to paint this difficulty as a dilemma, an issue with no clear solution.

Example because that a Fitness Trainer: 

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

The an initial question you’ll probably gain with this arrival is, “How execute you perform that?” Others can think you produce home exercise videos then upload castle on YouTube, however either means this response gives girlfriend an possibility to continue the conversation.

You can think this two methods only use if you have actually an amazing profession. It is why I provided commonplace work as one example.

Whatever you do, you deserve to make it sound amazing by highlighting her specialty or the problems you solve.

Networking Events

“What perform you do?” is a usual question in networking events.

Whatever project title or summary you usage to price this concern barely speak the totality story that what friend do. Yet the mere cite of a task title potentialism triggers world to referee you, based upon what they understand of her work.

A pair Clear instances of This

Job 1: Programmer in Silicon Valley

Stereotype: Cushy 6-figure salary, stares at the computer all day, most likely an over-inflated ego

Job 2: career Coach

Stereotype: “People space either suspicious, or they immediately tell me every little thing they hate about their careers. Coaching gets a bad rap since it’s less complicated to tell others what come do, 보다 to make alters yourself”, claims Career Coach Carlota Zimmerman.

To prevent stereotypes, think of your answer together the an initial step in teaching the other person around you and also your job. Re-superstructure something little known around your profession instead of answering with your task title alone.

Examples of details to ShareLatest events in her industryInteresting information you learned recentlyMisconceptions about your jobWork trivia

3 an ext Strategies to better Answer “What perform You perform For a Living?”

1. Share a Story

Tell a story around one that your more exciting days in ~ work. Once possible, include context to help the listener know the an ext technical aspects of her job.

Not sure just how to tell her’s story? This tutorial can assist you:

2. Display Your Weak Side

Being breakable shows humility, which deserve to dispel an adverse stereotypes fastened to some high-paying jobs.

Talk about the struggles you faced in your journey, and also some the the sacrifices friend made along the way. Sharing your mistakes and challenges humanizes you, and makes people an ext likely to open up up to you as well.

3. Display Others What her Job way for them

Show others exactly how your project is relevant to their day-to-day life. Don’t worry; it’s easier than the sounds also if your project is technical or complicated.

Your Job: Penetration Specialist. Sounds boring, right?

Not if you describe it in this way:

Stranger: What carry out you do?You: ns fight negative guys looking to steal her money and also private information.Stranger: room you a police officer?You: No, I try to break into websites (with permission) so i can find loopholes in their digital security. Then I assist them create code come strengthen their website"s defenses therefore hackers can’t get in come steal her data.

It sounds an ext fascinating compared to relenten yourself as a hacker or programmer. 

Job: Money Lender for genuine Estate Investors

“I’m a hard money lender specializing in functioning with genuine estate investors doing flips, holds, and new construction.”“When ns tell people this, their eyes glaze, I acquire a confused nod, and also we move on through life”, states Aaron Norris the The Norris Group.

Now the responds in a means that provides his work familiar to world with no genuine estate background.

“Have you ever seen shows prefer ‘Flip this House’ top top HGTV? We provide loans for your projects.”

Norris admits this response doesn’t totally explain his work. Yet hearing the TV show’s surname helps people attach the dots between what"s top top the TV show and also his heat of work. 

Some cases Call because that Self-Promotion

“What perform you perform for a living?”

How you answer this question shapes people’s first impression of you.

In casual settings, it’s okay to answer this v no intent to promote yourself or her

But what around the various other times, when you fulfill a decision-maker that might potentially rental you or do with your company?

You do not do it think twice about promoting yourself.

You’re act yourself and also others a donate by talking about what you’re an excellent at. If your skills can settle the problem of whoever you’re talking to, climate it’s not self-promotion. Instead, it’s a two-way street where you aid each various other out.

That’s why you should constantly have an elevator key and personal brand declare ready. Review these Envato Tuts+ guides to learn how to produce a an individual brand the goes past your task title:

How do you take care of the concern "What perform you do for a living," and also how perform you adapt it to various social situations? permit us know your best tips in the forum.

Browse through our professional resume templates on Envato elements or GraphicRiver to uncover a good resume design.

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Editorial Note: This contents was originally published in 2017. We"re share it again due to the fact that our editor have figured out that this information is tho accurate and relevant.