post-promotion-placement#checkSidebarAdDisplayCondition" data-controller="sticky-ad post-promotion-placement">
Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:url-selector#selectionChanged" data-controller="url-selector">Englishالعربية/عربيбеларуская моваDeutschEspañolBahasa IndonesiaItalianoMelayuPусскийSlovenčinaукраїнська моваTiếng Việt

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

You are watching: What does he do for a living

You know some of the attendees, but not all of them. Some civilization are handing out service cards; others are talking to their colleagues.

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

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

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

We hear this question a lot, we ask this question a lot.

But few of us think difficult about what our answer suggests to others.

The Usual Responses to the Question: "What Do You Do for a Living?"

Some human being automatically answer this question with their job title.

Those who respond through a basic project title sometimes execute it to stop confusing world, choose Anna Daugherty, a Digital Marketing Manager at PITSS America LLC.

“When people ask me what I carry out, the shortest answer I offer is: I"m the marketing manager for a tech agency.”

It’s short and to the point, yet it doesn’t totally define what she does or the kind of modern technology firm she works for.

Compare this via saying, “We’re professionals in application modernization and also digital transdevelopment for heritage Oracle units,” which Daugherty agrees is a mouthful and frequently leads to blank, confused stares in conversations.

Others try to be funny or avoid the question completely.

The reality is, it’s tough to blame human being that try to avoid the question through humor. Who knows, they might have tried answering directly before however obtained worn down of explaining the complexities of their job, or the stereokinds they had to address.

The True Question

If you think around it, the question “What carry out you perform for work?” have the right to be understood in various 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 listed below you?Is this perchild worth my attention?

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

Situations Wbelow this Concern is Offensive

1. A Condescending Tone

Asking this question through a derisive or arrogant tone sends out the wrong message. It’s as if you’re assuming the other perboy is unemployed or earning much less than you are.

2. At a Hospital or Religious Service

Places wbelow world might be grieving or encountering a complicated time in their life aren’t great venues for such a question.


These world are stressed and also burdened with troubles, which renders them at risk to seeing the question in an adverse light. The question could be understood as, “Maybe you’re not functioning tough enough or probably you’re not earning sufficient, otherwise this wouldn’t have actually happened to you.”

3. Cultures That Value Privacy

Asking “What execute you perform for a living” is offensive in some European nations, because it’s seen as an intrusion of their privacy.

As some Quora answers indicate in this thcheck out, occupational matters aren’t openly disputed via strangers in European countries, and it’s not a culturally welcomed conversation starter favor in the UNITED STATE They would rather you ask about their preference in vacation spots and also sporting activities team, at least according to the thread. 

The Importance of Answering Well

Behind the double meanings, this question offers you a opportunity to shape how human being perceive you.

Answer appropriately, people will certainly acquire curious around what you execute. If you’re lucky, you can amaze some world and make others jealous. You obtain instant credibility and also new-found friends in whatever before event you’re in.

If your answer is boring, you’ll simply gain a polite nod and the conversation ultimately dies dvery own. Then you’ll be standing on your very own, wondering what to execute or who to technique following.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to answer confidently and obtain a positive response every time?

Answering Strategies Based on Social Context

Since this question have the right to be understood in different ways, you don’t have to limit your answer to your day project. The best answer depends on wbelow and also why the question is asked.

Casual or Social Gatherings

In this case, the question “What carry out you carry out for a living” is a conversation starter.

Yes, it’s boring. But it’s safe to ask and human being are currently expecting to hear it.

You can feel uncomfortable answering this question, specifically if tright here are negative stereokinds surrounding your project or if few human being understand it. 

Here Is a Conversation I Overheard at a PartyFriend: “I’m a social media manager”Stranger: Oh so you spend the whole day playing on Facebook?”

For some jobs, you’re lucky to get a weird or funny response choose this. Others just gain a blank stare because civilization don’t know how to react to their tasks.

Worse yet, some job titles make civilization desperate to leave your firm.

Just imagine just how some civilization would certainly react after hearing, “I’m a financial adviser.”

If you’re financially savvy, you most likely won’t obtain scared off. Others are quick to finish the conversation, because they feel favor the various other perkid will begin convincing them to get an investment account or life insurance. 

Remember, you’re in a casual event. No one is doing any task interviews or in search of anypoint to buy. Even if such events sell an possibility to fulfill potential clients and also employers, that’s not the point of the occasion.

Next off time someone asks you this, attempt to gauge their reason for asking.

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

Your Conversation Might Go Like ThisStranger: “What perform you do?”You: “I’m passionate about cooking and scuba diving. What execute you love to do?”

Your acquaintance will certainly either:

Get curiousTell you what they like doingGive you a blank stare, because they’re not expecting your responseReply with their job title, not understanding you didn’t ask the exact same question

Eventually, you will certainly start talking around the points you love. 

Isn’t this better than talking around your task in a party wright here people are trying to forgain around their office problems? Events

This consists of profession reflects, project fairs, seminars, training occasions, conferences, boot camps, and also any type of other event where you fulfill people for job-related or For freelancers and those working at startups, this have the right to also encompass network-related mixers and also startup pitch competitions.

In general, you’ll satisfy two kinds of people in these events:

Regular attendees: occasion participants whose primary objectives are to learn and satisfy new human being.Decision-makers: these people can be speakers, service owners, endeavor capitalists, angel investors, or recruiters. Anyone looking to hire, carry out funds, collaborate, or carry out company with someone they uncover in such an occasion is a decision-maker.

Of course, decision-devices don’t attfinish these events just to scout human being. They’re also there to learn and make brand-new relationships also. So they have actually lots to carry out and little bit time to do it in.

Because of this, they attempt to protect against information overfill. Decision-makers only talk to human being that interest them, and also they’re quick to decide who is worth their time.

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

1. Focus on a Niche

Focus on a niche to protect against gaining labeled as a commodity. Here a good example: 

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

That sounds even more exciting than ssuggest saying you’re a designer. If you say this, people will wonder if they’ve seen your job-related prior to.

Here"s another niche example:

Health Insurance: “I assist Baby Boomers navigate their entry into Meditreatment.”

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

Kunkle proceeds, “People stereotype insurance agents as a type of used-vehicle salesman, and also we distinguish ourselves from this by being educators initially and saleshuman being second.” 

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

2. Mention a Problem You Solve

Talk about the difficulties or problems you deal with as part of your job. It’s also better if you can paint this trouble as a dilemma, an problem through no clear solution.

Example for a Fitness Trainer: 

“I’m a Fitness trainer specializing in producing straightforward and also fun exercise programs for clients that don’t reap going to the gym.”

The first question you’ll most likely gain via this development is, “How carry out you perform that?” Others can think you produce home exercise videos then upload them on YouTube, yet either way this response provides you an chance to continue the conversation.

You could think these two tactics just apply if you have an exciting profession. That’s why I used commonlocation jobs as an instance.

Whatever before you do, you have the right to make it sound interesting by highlighting your specialty or the difficulties you deal with.

Netfunctioning Events

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

Whatever before job title or description you use to answer this question barely tells the whole story of what you execute. Yet the mere cite of a project title subconsciously triggers human being to judge you, based upon what they understand of your occupational.

A Couple Clear Examples of This

Job 1: Programmer in Silsymbol Valley

Stereotype: Cushy 6-number salary, stares at the computer system all 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 less complicated to tell others what to execute, than to make transforms yourself”, says Career Coach Carlota Zimmerman.

To prevent stereokinds, think of your answer as the initially step in teaching the other perchild about you and also your project. Share somepoint little recognized about your profession instead of answering with your task title alone.

Instances of Indevelopment to ShareLatest events in your industryInteresting information you learned recentlyMisconceptions about your jobWork trivia

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

1. Share a Story

Tell a story around among your more amazing days at work-related. When possible, include context to assist the listener understand also the more technological facets of your project.

Not sure exactly how to tell your’s story? This tutorial deserve to assist you:

2. Sexactly how Your Weak Side

Being delicate shows humility, which deserve to dispel negative stereoforms attached to some high-paying tasks.

Talk about the struggles you faced in your journey, and some of the sacrifices you made along the means. Sharing your mistakes and challenges humanizes you, and provides world even more most likely to open up to you as well.

3. Sjust how Others What Your Job Means for them

Show others just how your project is pertinent to their day-to-day life. Don’t worry; it’s simpler than it sounds even if your project is technological or facility.

Your Job: Penetration Specialist. Sounds boring, right?

Not if you describe it in this way:

Stranger: What do you do?You: I fight negative males looking to steal your money and private information.Stranger: Are you a police officer?You: No, I try to break right into websites (with permission) so I have the right to uncover loopholes in their virtual defense. Then I aid them compose code to strengthen their website"s defenses so hackers can’t obtain in to steal your information.

It sounds even more fascinating compared to describing yourself as a hacker or programmer. 

Job: Money Lender for Real Estate Investors

“I’m a difficult money lender specializing in working through genuine estate investors doing flips, holds, and also brand-new building and construction.”“When I tell people this, their eyes glaze, I get a perplexed nod, and also we relocate on with life”, states Aaron Norris of The Norris Group.

Now he responds in a way that makes his job-related acquainted to civilization through no real estate background.

“Have you ever watched reflects like ‘Flip this House’ on HGTV? We carry out loans for their projects.”

Norris admits this response doesn’t totally describe his job-related. But hearing the TV show’s name helps world attach the dots between what"s on the TV display and his line of occupational. 

Some Situations Call for Self-Promotion

“What carry out you carry out for a living?”

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

In casual settings, it’s okay to answer this with no intent to promote yourself or your service.

But what around the various other times, when you accomplish a decision-maker that can perhaps hire you or perform company through your company?

You shouldn’t think twice about fostering yourself.

You’re doing yourself and others a favor by talking around what you’re excellent at. If your abilities can solve the difficulty of whoever you’re talking to, then it’s not self-promovement. Instead, it’s a two-means street where you help each various other out.

That’s why you must constantly have actually an elevator pitch and individual brand also statement all set. Read these Envato Tuts+ guides to learn how to create an individual brand that goes beyond your project title:

How do you manage the question "What execute you do for a living," and exactly how carry out you adapt it to various social situations? Let us know your finest tips in the forum.

Browse through our expert resume templates on Envato Elements or GraphicRiver to uncover a great resume design.

See more: Q: Why Did The Computer Go To The Doctor ? Q: Why Did The Computer Go To The Doctor

Editorial Note: This content was initially publiburned in 2017. We"re sharing it aobtain because our editors have actually identified that this information is still accurate and appropriate.