Friday, February 06, 2009

3D Juggling 416: “...and, tell me, what do you do?”

Jeremy writes: "I am sure in all the social and business gatherings of the past month you have been asked this question a few times! It is fascinating that many familiar, everyday questions are not answered in the words in which they are asked. The usual answer to this question is often more of a throwaway line:

'Oh, I’m an accountant''I don’t work, I’m just a housewife' (note the just!)'For my sins, I work at the council offices''I used to be a nurse but I’m a full-time mum (or dad) now''I’m not anything at the moment, I’ve been made redundant from the bank actually...'

The question uses a verb (do) and the answer is bundled up by an all embracing noun e.g. accountant or nurse. It is as if (in this shorthand) the questioner is supposed to know that because I am an accountant, you can work out for yourself what I do (i.e count ?).

The problem with this sort of exchange in the job market, a vitally important market for many at the moment, is that it is unhelpful and often misleading. Good accountants do much more than count. The recruitment consultant or prospective employer or networking contact actually wants to know what you do (use lots of flowing, active verbs), not your job title(s) and appointments (very dried-up, well-worn nouns). Most jobs contain a wide variety of tasks, relationships and ways of working which are inadequately described by “I am a nurse”.

Think about what you do now, and what you really want to do, and how you set about your work in general, and learn to describe it all concisely with lots of verbs describing your activities, character and modus operandi. That will lead to all sorts of questions and conversation.
The answer 'I’m just an (anything)' doesn’t lead anywhere!"

Love this? Do us a favour and send it to five people. Who thinks like you? You could send it to someone who is more than their job title.

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