4 Tips for Effectively Answering “What Do You Do?”

Oct 7, 2015

Whether I’m at a networking event or a family get together, the question “So, what exactly do you do?” seems to come up a lot.

In the past, I would respond by saying something along the lines of, “Well, I work for myself as a freelance writer.” Nine times out of ten, people replied with, “Oh, so you’re, like, writing a book?” Then, I had to launch into a blabbering, scattered, and not very effective explanation that, honestly, probably bored these poor people to tears.

So, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a better way to answer that question. Basically, I’ve been working on refining my elevator pitch. Needless to say, I thought I’d share a few tips here!



Obviously, I recommend having a somewhat canned speech ready to go in order to answer this question. So, my best advice? Sit down and write out your thoughts! You’ll likely cross things out, scribble, and make a big mess. But, it’s totally worth it! Doing this will ensure that you touch on everything you need to and that your entire answer flows well. Plus, you’ll have something to reference if you ever forget your elevator pitch!


Sure, you need to say what you do. But, you want to place your emphasis on how well you do it. I used to just say, “I’m a freelance writer,” and then wait for my conversational partner to prod for more explanation. Now? I say something like, “I’m a freelance writer, so I help businesses grow their audience by producing engaging and helpful content for their blogs, websites, and publications.” Much better, right?


Explaining what you do doesn’t need to be an incredibly lengthy or diluted answer. So, get right to the nitty gritty. Don’t start your elevator pitch with a rambling introduction like, “Oh, gosh, that’s a good question. Well, I do a bunch of different things, so it’s kind of hard to explain. But…” Not only have you wasted precious time, but you’ve also pretty much discredited your entire explanation right from the get go. Make an effort to be concise, while still presenting all of the necessary information.


Finally, your answer won’t hold much impact if you say it in a meek voice while chewing at your nails. So, take a deep breath and explain your career and passions with confidence! You’re great at what you do, and you love doing it. Relax a little, and that enthusiasm and expertise is sure to shine through.

Do you find that you need to answer the dreaded “What do you do?” question often? Any tips for crafting a kick-butt reply?

Until next time!