Do you ever get stuck when someone asks you the infamous question, “What do you do?”
Whether it’s a hiring manager during an interview, a family member at a holiday gathering, or a new person you meet for the first time, answering this seemingly polite question can be a real challenge. It’s a great way to connect with someone new and learn more about their line of work, but so many people get it wrong by simply stating their job title and leaving it at that.
Here at MatchBuilt, we know how important it is to make a real connection with people right off the bat. We’ve seen too many people miss out on amazing opportunities simply because they didn’t make a lasting impression with their response to this question. That’s why we’re sharing ten tips to help you answer “What do you do?” in a way that truly captures your personal values and professional passions.
From sharing your dream job to using the power of storytelling, our tips and those from experts in the career development field will help you stand out from the crowd and leave a memorable impression. Whether it’s your first time meeting someone or you’ve known them for a long time, we’ll help you share the most interesting thing about your line of work and provide additional information that makes you truly unforgettable.
So, next time someone asks you, “Qué haces?” or “What is your occupation?” be ready to impress. With our tips, you can turn this seemingly simple question into a real opportunity to showcase your personal and professional strengths. Don’t miss out on your chance to make a lasting impression – try our tips today and see the difference they can make!
10 Unique Ways To Answer “What Do You Do?”
Description: Instead of just sharing your job title, pique someone’s curiosity by starting with a question that makes them want to learn more.
Have you ever wondered how companies can create effective marketing campaigns? As a marketing strategist, I help brands develop unique and compelling campaigns that capture their target audience’s attention.
Tell a Story
Description: Humans are wired for storytelling, so make your work more relatable and memorable by sharing a narrative.
As a financial advisor, I help people achieve their financial goals by guiding them through their investment journeys, just like a sherpa guides climbers to the top of a mountain.
Laura Barker, a career coach with Laura Barker Coaching, breaks it down like this:
The best way to answer, “What do you do?” is with the following sequence: type of work – big picture – your why.
Example: I work in project management, building employee engagement programs. I love finding ways to breathe life into company values by reinforcing them through great recognition programs.
Description: Highlight the positive change you bring to people’s lives or the world around you.
I work to ensure people can access clean water and sanitation in underprivileged communities. By doing this, I know I’m making a tangible difference in people’s lives and helping them lead healthier, happier lives.
Jeff Mains, the CEO of Champion Leadership Group, adds:
The best way to answer the question “What do you do?” is to emphasize your unique contributions and interests while being genuine and passionate.
In every situation, I make an effort to share my enthusiasm for my work and the difference it makes in people’s lives. I want my customers to know that I’m not in this solely for the financial rewards; I take pride in my work and value my relationships with my clients.
Description: Stand out by sharing a lesser-known aspect of your job that most people aren’t aware of.
I’m a certified handwriting analyst, using my expertise to help companies detect fraud. By analyzing a person’s handwriting, I can identify any inconsistencies or irregularities that could indicate fraudulent activity.
Dr. Kyle Elliott, the founder and career coach at CaffeinatedKyle.com, tells us:
One strategy you can use to make the process of answering this question less stressful and your answer more compelling is to focus on the people you serve. For instance, if you’re a product manager, discuss how your work helps users. Or, if you’re a human resources leader, discuss the impact your job has on employees. The key here is to shift from the tactical aspect of your work to the impact and value of your efforts.
Additionally, take time to identify your unique value proposition (what I like to call your fabulousness) and share it along with what you do. If you’re gifted in creating creative solutions to business challenges, mention this in your answer. Be sure to back up your claim with a brief example, too, as stories help make your answer more compelling.
Description: Inject humor into your answer to make it more memorable and entertaining.
Not a sexy job at all! I’m a professional problem solver – I get paid to fix broken things (including the coffee machine).
Description: Share your enthusiasm and passion for your job and what motivates you to do it every day.
I love helping people find their dream homes and make them a reality. Seeing the joy and happiness on their faces is incredibly rewarding when they finally move in and start making memories.
Description: Use a metaphor to make your work more accessible and understandable.
I’m like an orchestra conductor – I combine all the pieces to create a beautiful masterpiece. As a project manager, I coordinate a project’s different parts and ensure they come together seamlessly.
Use a Pop Culture Reference
Description: Use current events or pop culture references to explain your work in a relatable and engaging way.
I’m like a detective for technology, always looking for clues to solve problems and keep things running smoothly. As a cybersecurity expert, I identify and neutralize potential threats before they become major issues.
Description: Share your unique approach or methodology in your work to stand out from the crowd.
I approach marketing like a chess game, always thinking several moves ahead to stay ahead of the competition. By anticipating market trends and developing innovative strategies, I help my clients stay ahead of the curve.
Highlight Your Values or Principles
Description: Share the values or principles that guide your work and make it more meaningful.
I believe in empowering individuals and communities to create positive change, which is why I work in nonprofit fundraising. I can make a real difference in the world by connecting donors with causes they care about and building relationships with the people and organizations we serve.
Insightful Quotes on Answering “What Do You Do?”
Inspirational quotes can provide valuable insights into approaching the question “What do you do?” and offer guidance on meaningfully answering it. Here are four quotes from well-known individuals that can help you think about the best way to answer this question:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. – Steve Jobs
This quote from Steve Jobs emphasizes the importance of doing work you love and finding fulfillment in your career. When answering, it’s essential to showcase your passion for your work and how it aligns with your values.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer
Like Steve Jobs’ quote, Albert Schweitzer emphasizes the importance of finding happiness in your work. When talking about yourself, focusing on your job title and the personal fulfillment and satisfaction you gain from your work is essential.
It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone regarding your business. And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time. – Mark Cuban
This quote from entrepreneur Mark Cuban highlights the importance of hard work and continuous learning in achieving success. When discussing your career, showcasing your dedication to your job and willingness to go above and beyond to achieve your goals is important.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote encourages individuals to stay true to themselves and not conform to societal pressures. When discussing your occupation, it’s important to showcase your unique strengths and qualities rather than trying to fit into a specific mold or image.
By incorporating these insights from successful individuals, you can approach the question with a renewed perspective and confidence in sharing your story.
FAQs: How to Impress Anyone with Your Answer to “What Do You Do?”
Focus on highlighting your relevant skills and experiences and how they can contribute to the position you're applying for.
Summarize your profession, but consider sharing a personal interest or hobby to make the conversation more engaging.
It's generally not appropriate to share your salary or income in response to this question unless it's relevant to the conversation context.
You can share your previous job title, focus on your skills and experiences, or mention any current projects or side hustles you're working on.
Focus on your transferable skills and experiences, and highlight how they can contribute to different roles or industries you're interested in.
You can share your new job title and focus on how it aligns with your values and goals or highlight any transferable skills and experiences from your previous career.
Share your business or brand name, and focus on the mission and values of your company, or highlight any unique products or services you offer.
It depends on the context of the conversation, but you can share your job title or industry and mention any personal or exciting projects or side skills you have.
The Power of Answering “What Do You Do?” the Right Way
Answering the question “What do you do?” can be a real id for many of us, whether in a job interview, at a family gathering, or meeting potential employers for the first time.
But defaulting to a one-word answer won’t do you any favors. At MatchBuilt, we understand the importance of this question and how it can make or break a first impression.
We’ve compiled ten tips for answering the question like a pro. This question is an opportunity to showcase your core values, side skills, and aspirations. And with a little bit of preparation, you can confidently answer this question politely and respectfully, which sets you apart from the rest.
Whether you’ve been in your line of work for a long time or just made a career change last year, answering the question is an excellent way to share your story and make a lasting impression. Using our guide, you’ll learn how to update your name change documents, visit the post office to update your social security information and feel more comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone.
For young people just starting or business owners looking to build a better place, answering “What do you do?” is an important question that can help you get closer to your dream job. By mastering this interview question, you’ll be able to showcase your potential to potential employers and leave a lasting impression.
So don’t be afraid to step up and answer it the right way. With MatchBuilt Executive Search’s guide, you’ll be well on your way to impressing potential employers, family members, and new people you meet at U.S. airports or even at a Qué haces get-together.