A few weekends ago my husband and I went to see comedienne Paula Poundstone in Boulder, CO. If you're not familiar with her, you're probably under 40. Paula is a comedienne we have like for several decades. She's one of those naturally funny people who makes us laugh.
Part of her 'act' that she's very good at is interacting with the audience. She'll pick someone out of the audience (based on their reaction to something she said) and ultimately asks them what they do for a living. As a Career Coach, I'm always interested in this question and of course, the answer. She did this to 3 men in our audience and I was fascinated by their answers and her interaction with them. Let's see if I can give you a taste of what we witnessed.
The 1st guy, when asked what he did for a living, answered "I work in an office". Paula, being naturally confused and probably amused by this answer, made several jokes in response to his answer and then she tried to get some more details from him: 'What do you do in the office?' He NEVER really answered that question, but eventually he did say where he worked.
The 2nd guy Paula asked "What do you do for a living?", said 'many things'. After much pulling and prodding: "What did you do yesterday?" "What did you do the day before that?" - he finally answered that he was making a film about a film that was being made . Paula had fun with that one. Then he said he was a real estate appraiser. Paula asked more questions about that.
The 3rd guy Paula asked said 'I do nothing'. Paula was again confused and amused with this answer. After more digging, it turns out he was retired. She nudged some more and got out of him what he did before he retired (facilities maintenance) and what he was doing now that he retired, because it's really hard to do 'nothing'.
Now I can't list or remember all of Paula's comments, jokes and questions to these guys, but let me tell you, sitting there listening to her questions and the lack of useful information in their answers was painful to me! Now I'll give you - the guys might have been nervous to be called on like that in an audience, but still, these were all professional men who COULD NOT FOR THE LIFE OF THEM answer "What do you do for a living?". With each one, you could feel Paula's frustration with the lack of information they were providing.
From my Career Coach perspective, I couldn't help but think 'they are really blowing an opportunity here'. I was glad that none of them said they were unemployed or looking for work. If they had, I would hope they would have done a better job.
But let's for one minute assume that the real estate appraiser is in business for himself and that he's always in need of good referrals. He had a great opportunity to share that information and present himself as a true professional with 1300 people who were hanging on every word he (and Paula) said. If there was someone in the audience who needed his services, he could have made a valuable connection.
My point in telling this story is that there are networking and marketing opportunities EVERYWHERE! When you get the opportunity, no matter how remote or unlikely, you should take it. And, in order to take advantage of it, you need to be prepared in advance. So are YOU ready, at a moment's notice, to answer "What do you do for a living?".
Job Search and Career Strategist who hopes I have written something you'll find useful.