How many times have you been asked this question?
I know that I have been asked it countless times. As a librarian, I get an especially interesting reaction; the conversation tends to go like this:
Curious person: "So, what do you do?"
Me: "I'm a librarian."
Curious person: "A librarian? That's...[insert any variation of the following: boring! cute! strange! adorable!]"
Conversation continues...typically with the words "card catalog", "shelving books", "reading all day", sprinkled throughout. Then when they find how that I have a Masters (and yes, you must have a Masters to be a librarian), I get the whole "You need a Masters for THAT?" routine.
Fellow librarians and family/friends/empathizers of librarians know that we DO NOT sit around all day reading books and talking about our cats (I'm more of a dog person anyway). If they only knew what we do and what we create, their responses to US and to PUBLIC LIBRARIES in general would probably be more positive. (*steps off soap box*)
That brings me to this article: How to Tell People What You Do and Be Remembered. I subscribe to The Muse for daily career, business, job seeker advice (and you should too!) This article gives a template for the next time that you get asked the ever-popular question, "So, what do you do?" Except instead of giving a boring answer ("librarian", "attorney", "management consultant"), you capture their imagination and emotion with the parts of your job that make it worth working for.
From the article:
"Use this fill-in-the-blank template to write a new “So, what do you do?” introduction for yourself. And this time, with feeling!
I’m a [insert your job title].
Officially, my job is to [insert your clear-cut job description, e.g., seek out publicity opportunities for my company / write grant proposals / coordinate our annual healthcare conference for 5,000 people].
But really? I [insert your emotional job description, e.g., make A-list celebrities fall in love with our mission / help create miracles for underprivileged kids who still believe in magic / create the party of the year, where hardworking nurses get to kick up their heels and go buck-wild!].
To sum it all up: The key to writing a job description that people will actually read, listen to, and remember is using phrases like:
“Which really means…”
“Basically? It’s all about…”
“Which is a fancy way of saying…”
to get straight to the emotional core of what you do, and why.
The people you’re connecting with will probably bounce back with a few questions. They may need a bit of clarification. They might request a simple run-down of your skills and credentials.
But one thing’s for sure: You’ll spark a new feeling. And you won’t be forgotten."
Don't you love it?! It turns even the dullest job positions (think: "I'm a corporate research analyst") to "I'm superwoman extraordinare." So, I'm going to get cracking on what my librarian elevator speech is so I can avoid as many future "cat-loving, glasses wearing, book shelving" conversations as possible.
And in the meantime, what do you do?