January 11, 2015

How To Explain Your Job To Your Parents

What do you do for a living? It’s a question you will be asked for the rest of your life. It’s a fantastic conversation starter, but how do you really explain what you do?

You need to give it some thought because your friends, family, and especially your parents really want to know what you are doing for a living. Give it a minute and think about your response. Do people, like your parents, understand what you do?

There’s no doubt about it, the world is a different place that it was a generation ago. Back in the good old days, people got a job, climbed the corporate ladder, and worked 9 to 5 at the same company for their entire career. It’s different now.

Jobs are evolving. Technology allows us to do things remotely. Telecommuting is a common option. Flexible schedules are ideal. Switching companies every few years is the norm. Secure WiFi connections make pretty much anything possible. The Internet opens countless doors. Often work and free time melt into one through mobile devices.

There are many jobs that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Now they are mainstream careers. Your parents never had the opportunity to be software engineers, social media managers, bloggers, Internet publishers, SEO writers, or data scientists. The job market is different. Technology is here to stay. And it’s hard for your parents to understand what you do.

Your job doesn’t have to be technology based for it to be confusing. We ran across an article on Business Insider about the Top 10 Misunderstood Jobs. Here they are:

10. Investment Banker
9. Sports Team Manager
8. Public Relations Manager
7. Radio Producer
6. Sociologist
5. Sub Editor
4. Social Media Manager
3. Data Scientist
2. Actuary
1. UI Designer

Not all of these are technology based, but most parents don’t understand what these jobs are all about. If your parents aren’t sure what Facebook is, are dubious about email, just got their first flip phone, or are still using dial up Internet how do you explain your job to your parents?

You’er more than welcome to send your parents to JobMonkey to do some research on your career, but they want to hear about it from you. It’s important to make your job description as simple and clear as possible. Try to relate it to them in terms that they will understand. Be patient and get ready to explain things multiple times. Things like #hashtags don’t always make sense right away.

We ran across a cool formula on BettyMeansBusiness.com that can help you break your job description into understandable segments. Give this a try…

“I work with (insert your ideal clients) by/helping them (insert a couple of words describing the big picture of what you do) so that they (insert concise description of the result your ideal client wants to experience).”

You can use this job description formula to explain your job. It works for any job out there. Go ahead and try it.

It’s important to let your parents and friends know what you do. If they can understand what you do every day, maybe they can help you, send you clients, or help you network. Of course, if they are really struggling with understanding your job, maybe you should follow LinkedIn’s advice and have a Bring In Your Parents Day at your office.

Remember: Keep it simple!

About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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