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Chapter 11. "What Do You Do?" > Understand What Usually Happens

Understand What Usually Happens

When people ask, "What do you do?" do you:

  • Give your occupation, job type, or category: "I'm an attorney." That's cement. The response falls like a dead weight—a block of cement. Your conversation partner is likely to say, "Oh, . . . nice." (Yep, that's the number-one comment when people tell what they do.)

  • Give your title: "I'm assistant information systems manager with the northeast division of management information systems, a division of System Information Management, Inc." That's fog. Giving a title—especially a long, complicated, jargon-filled one—leaves you surrounded by a thick cloud of words. And your conversation partner is likely to say, "Oh, . . . nice."

  • Give your industry: "I'm in real estate." That's the blob. That response puts you right in the middle of the great gray blob of the other 487 people your conversation partner knows who are also in real estate. You've missed your chance to differentiate yourself from all the other people in that industry that your contact has met. And your conversation partner will probably say, "Oh, . . . nice."

  • Give the name of the organization you work for: "I'm with Disney." That's the flag. That response wraps you in the flag of the organization. You aren't going to be known for your talents and capabilities if you say that; your only identity will be Disneyite—a dangerous situation if you ever are laid off.


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