Workhack: The One-Line Job Description

elevator_panel.jpgPodiatrists have it easy.  Why?  Because when asked what they do for a living at any social gathering, they can deliver a one-word answer that explains it all.

My entire career has been spent in media.  Since I’ve always worn many hats – and have never been a "specialist" in one area – I have always had trouble when asked the question, "What do you do?"  A key tool to have in your arsenal is a polished elevator pitch.

Inevitably, I deliver a generalized answer that barely 50% accurate.  It’s solely designed to end the small talk as quickly as possible.  It’s hard to explain to a layperson what a content editor is.

There are certain stigmas I avoid.  For example, any mention that I work on a Web site immediately has people believe that I’m a Babylon 5-watching, iPhone toting techhead that can surely explain why their PC is crawling along like a rat in quicksand.

I can’t.

And if I say I’m a writer, you immediately picture me alone in the basement, unshowered, working on the prequel to Carrie.

Media?  Too broad; always prompts more questions.

There are plenty of marketing and business elements too.  How do I include those?

I’ve worked for mom and pop outfits and monster media conglomerates, each carrying its own set of pitfalls. Working for the small guys, you also have to explain what the company does. Working for the big boys, you have to explain that it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

It’s kind of like explaining a blog or podcast to my parents – some questions will never truly be answered.

Let’s look at some key advice from Progress Agent Dean Lindsay, author of Cracking the Networking Code.

Always speak  about what you do in a professional, positive manner.  Concentrate on how others benefit from the product or service you perform.

It’s important to communicate what you do in ways that will help  the person you’re speaking with understand  that you provide solutions. They must have you positioned in their mind as an agent of progress.

Stuff like:
I solve…
We save companies…
I help people…
We give…
We design…

Avoid using your label as your introduction.

"I’m a car insurance salesman."
"I’m an insurance agent."

Chances are, when you open with your label, if you get a continued conversation, that person is only being polite.

Dean’s been a friend of ours for quite some time and we highly encourage you to grab his book.

So you get the drift.  I’ve gotta tell my wife to make sure she no longer introduces herself as a "teacher."  She’s molding the minds of the future!  And I’m not just a career blogger.  I’m helping those in need find happiness! 

For those of you like me, who have trouble explaining what it is you do to pay the mortgage, you might want to check out the 15 Second Pitch.

Founders Laura and Jim provide tools and training to help people market themselves more effectively.  Now I can’;t vouch for the service since I haven’t used it, but a survey they conducted certainly rings true.  Seventy-six percent of 3,543 professionals said they have trouble explaining what they do, and/or feel uncomfortable pitching themselves.  Read more here.

Let’s cut to the chase.  It’s ONE SENTENCE.  Why the hell don’t we all just take a few minutes and get it right.  It’ll save us from kicking ourselves in the ass down the road.  I’m going to work on mine.  Please work on yours and leave it in the comment section below.  Please subscribe to the blog.

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