How to Answer “What Do You Do for a Living?”

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
Easy and professional ways to talk about your job with anyoneYou're mingling when you're suddenly asked, "What do you do for a living?" The question halts you in your tracks—how should you answer? Whether you're at a friend's party,...
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You’re mingling when you’re suddenly asked, “What do you do for a living?” The question halts you in your tracks—how should you answer? Whether you’re at a friend’s party, business conference, or job interview, we’ve got your back! Check out these tips and examples on answering “What do you do for a living?” casually and professionally.

Things You Should Know

  • Answer the question by telling a story about a positive work experience or talking about your goals.
  • Make your answer as relatable as possible to be more personable and approachable.
  • Ditch intricate details and statistics for interesting facts and tales to captivate the listener.
Section 1 of 5:

Responding to “What Do You Do For a Living?”

  1. Step 1 Share positive work experiences.
    Telling an interesting or uplifting story about your job is a great way to make a positive first impression. Tell a friend, family member, recruiter, or stranger about something fun that’s happened at your job. Not only does this share your job title and description, but it also gives insight into what you do on a day-to-day basis in an entertaining way.[1]
  2. Step 2 Talk about your job in a relatable way.
    The last thing anyone wants to hear is a boring, drawn-out description of your job. Leave the technicalities for your resume and opt for personable stories instead. Use language the questioner will likely understand. Basically, tell an engaging story![2]
  3. Step 3 Describe why you’re passionate about your job.
    Share what excites you about your job with just about anyone. Why did you want to be a part of the field? What do you look forward to doing each day at work? Your passion can make you seem more personable, which is great for chatting with potential employers.
  4. Step 4 Skip the intricate details.
    No matter who asks you the question, they likely don’t want to hear statistics. Keep informative details of your job out of the conversation. Instead, focus on what’s interesting and keep your answer short and sweet. In other words, only describe what’s important on the surface (your resume can describe the details if needed).[3]
  5. Step 5 Note your strengths and career goals.
    Don’t be afraid to promote yourself, especially when talking with potential employers or business executives. The question “What do you do for a living?” is often a rephrasing of “Tell me about yourself” in interviews. So, use the question as a segue to talk about your accomplishments.[4]
  6. Step 6 Talk about your career journey.
    If you’re proud of your job title and work, feel free to share it. This is a great way to open up about your current job and future goals. Just try not to get too biographical, as that could easily bore friends, family, and recruiters.
  7. Step 7 Consider who you’re talking to before crafting an answer.
    How you answer “What do you do for a living?” can vary depending on who you’re chatting with. For instance, a recruiter or potential employer may prefer an answer that highlights your past work experiences and goals, whereas a family member is likely more interested in hearing a relatable story.
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Section 2 of 5:

Answer Examples

  1. Step 1 Sharing positive experiences
    • “I’m currently a writer for an online tech company. Believe it or not, I actually wrote an article last week about how AI capitalizes on creative jobs and content creators.”
    • “I’m a lawyer with a private firm downtown. We just had a fascinating case. Did you hear about the principal embezzling money from his school?”
    • “I’m a taxi driver in New York, and boy, have I had my fair share of interesting clients! Believe it or not, I had the Perez Hilton hop into my cab the other day. Who would’ve thought!”
  2. Step 2 Being relatable
    • “I work at Subway right now. You wouldn’t believe how many people order plain ham sandwiches! But hey, it makes my job that much easier.”
    • “Say you’re trying to eat healthier. Well, I come to your house and help you meal prep. I take you shopping and teach you how to find products that match your individual needs.”
    • “You know the guy that pulls up with your pizza order? That’s me! It’s not a long-term career, but it’s helping me get through college.”
  3. Step 3 Describing your passion
    • “I help college students learn how to do job interviews and present themselves to potential employers. It’s extremely rewarding watching students blossom before your eyes and climb that corporate ladder.”
    • “I’m an artist. I usually do design work for local companies working on building their brands. The job lets me turn their vision into a reality.”
    • “There’s something so empowering about helping people find their sense of style. Clothes are more than something you wear; they’re a part of you. As a stylist, I can help others find and feel like themselves.”
  4. Step 4 Skipping the details
    • “I write articles to help people learn how to do just about anything. It’s a fun way to learn something new every day!”
    • “I’m a real estate agent and show people houses they hope to buy. I love supporting families as they find their forever home.”
    • “I pick up people’s groceries and bring them to their house.”
  5. Step 5 Listing your strengths and goals
    • “I’m a hard, efficient worker and natural problem solver. With my guidance, clients are able to improve their SEO tactics and increase their websites’ traffic. Just last month, I helped a client gain 80% of views on their website.”
    • “I’m a strong communicator with a compassionate heart. I help clients open up and work through life’s setbacks while pushing them toward their future goals. In the last year, I helped 2 clients achieve their life goals.”
    • “I’m a goal-oriented team player who lives and breathes the game. I’ve been playing basketball since I could walk, and the dream is to one day play for the NBA.”
  6. Step 6 Talking about your journey
    • “I started tutoring in college and easily fell in love with the students and professors. I loved the job, but I realized I wanted to be more than a student tutor. So, with the help of my coworkers, I developed an online tutoring platform for the area.”
    • “Well, I started by performing in school plays until I eventually got involved in community theater. Once I graduated, I decided it was time to aim big. I traveled the country and starred in multiple productions until I scored a leading role in a touring Broadway show.”
    • “I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. Story telling is my passion, and writing just so happens to be the perfect outlet for me. I first got involved in journalism in elementary school when I began reporting for the school’s student news. Since then, I’ve been reporting ground breaking stories.”
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Section 3 of 5:

When is “What do you do for a living?” commonly asked?

  1. Step 1 During networking events or business functions.
    More often than not, “What do you do for a living?” is asked by recruiters or other employees at job fairs or conferences. The question is a way for people to get familiar with your job description and career path.[5]
  2. Step 2 During social gatherings.
    “What do you do for a living?” is a common question at parties, reunions, or catch-ups. People use it to strike up a conversation, especially with someone they’re meeting for the first time or haven’t seen in a while.
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Section 4 of 5:

Why is it important to answer the question?

  1. Step 1 Answering questions about your job can be vital to moving up the corporate ladder.
    Whether you’re networking or doing a job interview, responding to “What do you do for a living?” is extremely important. Your response shares not only your current job but also your attitude. How you describe your career and self shows off your communication skills, value, and relatability.
  2. Step 2 Sharing what you do for a living helps you introduce yourself.
    In social settings, answering a quick question about your job or career can spark an even bigger conversation. Perhaps you’re meeting someone for the first time (like your partner’s parents) or meeting up with a long lost friend. No matter the scenario, answering “What do you do for a living?” lets you share something about yourself while also breaking the ice.
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Section 5 of 5:

Why could it be difficult to answer this question?

  1. It may be difficult to answer this question if you find it too personal.
    Some people don’t like talking about their jobs or career, and that’s okay! Maybe you’re a student, stay-at-home mom, or in-between jobs at the moment. No matter, "What do you do for a living?" might throw you off or be uncomfortable because you prefer to keep your professional and personal life private. If this is the case, try swerving around the topic of your career (especially if you’re outside a work setting).[6] For instance, you could say:
    • “I’m a full-time writer with my own blog. What about you? Last I heard, you were an up-and-coming businesswoman?”
    • “I’m actually retired and loving it! I do pick up the odd job every once and a while, but it's mostly just for fun.”
    • “I’m not working right now, but I have a few jobs lined up. I’m looking forward to my next chapter! I'm much more interested in hearing about this new puppy you have, though...”
    • “I specialize in arts and crafts and own my own Etsy shop. What about you? Do you have any hobbies?”
    • “I'm homeschooling my two boys right now since it's really important to me that they learn in an enriching and nurturing environment. Do you have any experience with kids?”

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