I have a problem. I find it difficult to articulate what it is I do for a living. My job. My career.
When I am asked, I sometimes feel the angst generated from the awkward scene from the imaginative 1989 film Say Anything where the protagonist, Lloyd Dobler, is asked by his love interest’s father what he has planned for his future. His response includes “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career,” but overall generates a clumsy exchange.
My title is “Principal, Technology and Client Services.” But what I do and how I work as a member of the Trilix team is hard to distill down into those five words. You probably have the same problem.
What we do to help our clients is complex and engagements vary. Our clients require us to be methodical and focused and create positive outcomes by using technology. Therefore, describing what I do for a living is a challenge.
To learn more about how Trilix helps clients uniquely tackle process and system complexity, click here.
My feeling of inelegance in responding to such questions is because I worry a non-technical person may not understand or may be insulted by my attempt to oversimplify what I do to match my perception of their level of understanding. Or perhaps I succinctly capture my work, but do so in a way that is so ho-hum to not invite further interest or inquiry.
These problems are exasperated by a sense of humility with which I was installed as a child. As a result, I can get uneasy talking too much about myself.
Whatever the cause, I recognize it is an area in which I need to improve. I decided to consult the biggest collection of human knowledge and “dog fail” videos: the internet. Perhaps the web can shed light on my predicament and offer some better ways to respond.
I started my search by typing “how to explain what you do for a living” into my favorite search engine, DuckDuckGo. In mere sub-seconds I was provided with a list of links that matched my search.
The first article challenged me from the outset, proposing a scenario where the reader is asked “[w]hat do you do for a living?” and told to write it down before continuing. Already feeling my creative juices flowing, I tried something out of the ordinary. As I read on, the article offered some useful advice including creating your own category and be the best in it or answer in terms of a dilemma you can solve.
A great start!
The next article suggested that a response is less about what you say or do, but rather how your response makes your audience feel. Yet another suggested starting with a phrase like “I’m passionate about . . .” but that doesn’t fit my style so much and hits my ears as too “buzz wordy.” Many an article relayed awkward and sometime humorous exchanges that resulted from the question being asked.
After reviewing a few more, I returned to the first article as the simple exercise at the beginning and recommendation contained therein yielded some decent result. I came up with two options to provide me with some options:
I am an Information Technology professional who helps businesses improve process, lower costs and increase revenues by intelligently leveraging technology
From the standpoint of a dilemma:
We work with businesses that have inefficiencies and risks in process and poorly utilized technology. They needlessly spend money, lose customers and lower employee engagement as a result.
These are a great base to describe what I do individually and how we help clients as a team. By being able to better articulate our work, we can begin the process of solving problems from our first interaction with a client. This is because it allows them to consider where their processes and systems fall short and realize that help is available.
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If I use these explanations, I am confident I will banish that awkward feeling and get a better response. I return to Lloyd Dobbler, the hero from Say Anything who is asked the question “[n]obody thinks it will work, do they?” His response: “No. You just described every great success story.”