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January 2011
What Do You Do?
by Susan Reynolds

Job search and networking almost always includes that question. Or maybe it’s “tell me about yourself” that you hear right away. In either case, do you have a strong answer prepared? And is your response going to help you move forward, or leave you in the job search dumpster, labeled as wrong for their needs? They won’t use you and they don’t know how to refer you!

Branding… the way you’re perceived… the image you bring… the foundation of your marketing… this has to be thought through carefully. Is your career trapped in an industry that doesn’t serve you any longer? (Are you a “retail” guy, or a “real estate” gal, who wishes to transition to a new industry, but keeps sticking you with an old label?)

Instead, learn to speak of yourself in terms of capabilities, skills, qualifications, and functions. Practice answering the “what do you do” question by really stating what you DO not just the industry for which you did it, or the title you held. This way, you can explain that you can offer to a new organization or client. You “provide”, you “orchestrate”, you “engineer”, you “develop”. This often entails a fair bit of research on your part, in order to avoid speaking in clichés specific to your prior industry, instead of being pertinent to your new targets. You must be aware of how your skills and capabilities can be used in other industries.

After careful writing and editing, you’ll be able to “brand” yourself strongly and capably. Your audience will be ready not just to understand you, but to give you the referrals you need to build your future!

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at NewMarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search, career strategy, and resume-writing firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers. She can be reached at or 661-755-3308.

Other Job and Career Success Related Articles:
Interviewing Intuition

Job Searching or Flinging Resumes?

Too Old to Get a Great New Job?

Negotiating the Best Possible Compensation


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