What do you do for work?

How to pass, fit in, eventually set an example, and ultimately lead the way.
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Ego
Posts: 6432
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: What do you do for work?

Post by Ego »

Lately, I have used this question as an opportunity to evangelize.

"We have always been EXTREMELY frugal and were able to save most of our earnings from regular corporate gigs. Then, way back in 2000, we quit those jobs. Since then we have been doing thing we find interesting. Lately I've been selling fine art online and my wife is a yoga instructor. We both love to run and enjoy learning new recipes."

I try to steer the follow-up questions toward what I mean by EXTREMELY frugal.

"We manage a historic building in (nice neighborhood) and live there for free. It comes with free utilities, internet, phone.... I store my inventory of paintings in the basement. We always create our own meals at home and buy simple ingredients like rice, oats, beans, quinoa and bulgar in bulk."

If they are still asking questions, I will steer the conversation toward how the elements of our life are interrelated. "We are fortunate that we have time to eat healthy and exercise, so we've been able to avoid the need for expensive healthcare and the high-stress lifestyle that causes so many terrible problems." -or- "While searching for old paintings at swap meets I frequently stumble upon almost everything else we need, second-hand. It is amazing how people practically give away perfectly good stuff."

fingeek
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 8:16 am
Location: Wales

Re: What do you do for work?

Post by fingeek »

I guess it depends on what are they really asking / why they are asking it. And of course, what is your intent with reply.

For me, I realise that I don't know why they're really asking - Is it an opener? To categorise me into a box? Status comparison? Genuinely interested in people?

And because I don't know, I think I would like to be more careful with how I reply. If they're interested in ERE then they will suck themselves in with more questions, but otherwise they will conclude what they want.

So this is supporting my previous thought of "I work for myself". Followed with something like "I think having a single job isn't very resilient, so I do a number of different things. Currently I'm working on X".

xmj
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:26 am

Re: What do you do for work?

Post by xmj »

One thing I have found that works quite well is to pre-empt this question by asking people about what they do .. for fun (you can add a line like "you have fun... right? <smirk>"). Then guide the conversation towards talking about enjoyable things, sports trips sightseeing travel etc.

On the work part, I've tried the very many ways of replying with "consulting in tech" (having worked as self-employed consultant or some variation thereof for the better part of a decade). Depending on my biz needs this week and who I'm talking to I've also gone with "accounting" and rarely "sales", or, when I'm in a bad mood or sense I don't much care for someone's company, "tech support".

I think Ego's approach of leading the conversation is a good one. Most often the question is asked because it's expected as part of getting to know someone you just met, and then to see if there's a match. So you might as well game that and talk about more interesting things. "Impro" would provide a few leads here.

UrbanHomesteader
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:02 pm

Re: What do you do for work?

Post by UrbanHomesteader »

I've always hated answering this question. When I had a corporate job, my title and duties were unfamiliar to the general public, I was a Retirement Plan Consultant who helped business owners run their company retirement plan. Most people's eyes would glaze over when hearing this. Some people would lament that they could never retire, others would translate my response to "sells insurance" and ask me about that every time they saw me.

Truthfully, when I was really busy with my job. I was more annoyed when people would ask what I did for fun. It just highlighted how unbalanced my life was.

I recently took on a treasurer position with a non-profit, which is about 2-3 days work per month, involves Quickbooks etc. So now when people ask what I do I just say I've been doing some bookkeeping, and quickly move on to whatever I have actually been up to that day or week.

"Bookkeeping" has been a nice answer because most people know what it is. But it's not interesting enough to actually leed to more questions, especially if you change the subject quickly. If someone asks why you can go hiking on a Tuesday, you just clarify that you're self-employed and set your own schedule.

I try to be patient. It's only natural for people to want to know how other people are making a living. It helps with networking, figuring out who has what skills in the community and is just a boring ice-breaker for most people.


Depending on how the conversation goes, I will admit to being very frugal and that's why I don't need to work much. I will also admit to having savings and investments, if that seems appropriate. If I sense that someone has a lot of financial stress, I just emphasize that we cook our meals at home to keep within our budget.

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