You’ve probably been asked what you do for a living and where you work innumerable times during job interviews, meetings, varied professional events and social gatherings. But have you ever carefully prepared compelling answers?
If not, consider doing so, because, no matter what your job is or who you discuss it with, describing your work in zesty, impressive terms may help you open professional and social doors, or at least spark interesting conversations.
For example, when you meet new people at networking events, you could introduce yourself by stating your name, job title and employer. Though such a tight-lipped introduction is acceptable, an enlightening, high-impact description about your work would provide grist for a lively exchange.
Here is an example of an engaging, conversational work description: I’m a science writer at the National Research Foundation, which funds most U.S academic research. I produce videos on research that is funded by the foundation to help tax payers understand the game-changing ecological research they pay for. I enjoy working for a research organization because it’s like being in school — but I get paid to learn instead of taking out loans to learn. Today, I produced a video about water pollution called “The Hidden Costs of Dead Zones.”
Tips on describing your job:
- Open with an attention-grabbing fact or statistic.
- Stay positive and enthusiastic. No whining or complaining to strangers!
- Explain why your work is important and matters.
- Tailor your pitch to your audience. For example, tell hiring managers how your job has prepared you to excel on your target job. Provide examples of completed projects that parallel the demands of your target job and evidence of your success.
- Tell (short) stories when possible and appropriate. Why? Because stories that are conceptually united by a dramatic narrative are verbal Velcro that sticks to the listener’s brain; they are memorable. Maintain a list of work-related stories involving varied types of management/supervisory challenges and successes and humorous anecdotes for use in diverse professional and personal contexts.
- Use easy-to-understand language. Purge acronyms and technical terms.
- Bring your business cards wherever you go.