What do you do? How to Share Your Career Goal as a Job Seeker

08.17.2020 11:38 AM By Amanda Miller

When you meet someone new, one of the first questions you’ll likely be asked is, “What do you do?” Most of the time, this is a pretty easy question to answer. But it gets a little more challenging when you’re unemployed. Let’s explore some ways you can share your career goal and help others help you make the right connections.

Our Identities Are Tied to Our Jobs

share your career goal | man with briefcase

When someone asks what you do, you likely think about what you do for a living. If you are not currently working because you’ve been furloughed, displaced, laid off, or haven’t quite found the right position, you probably feel a little vulnerable when it comes to this question. That’s to be expected. When you lose a job due to factors beyond your control, you can feel as if you’ve lost a bit of your identity. “Who am I if I don’t have a job?” may be your internal struggle.


A lot of emotions are tied to the relationship we have with our jobs. We feel proud of the role we play at work. After all, we’re contributing to society! We’re providing for ourselves and our families! We have purpose!


And then things change.


It’s a heavy burden to lose your job, which is a huge part of your identity. As a job seeker, though, you need to get beyond this to clearly answer the question of what you do and share your career goal with those who may be able to help you.

Stay Positive

It’s definitely hard to put on a happy face when you’re unemployed. Unfortunately, when someone asks, “What do you do?” they don’t want to hear a sob story. It’s like when they ask, “How are you?” they expect “Fine, thanks.” They don’t want to hear that you’re really not fine or you’ve had a horrible day.


The same is true when people ask what you do. They want a positive spin if you’re unemployed.


It’s easier said than done to stay positive in the face of unemployment. You want a job. You want life to continue as it has. And it can! The way to stay positive is to think toward the future.


What you do isn’t always answered by what you do now. You can share your career goal and answer the question just as well.

Share Your Career Goal

The simple way to answer the question, “What do you do?” is to share your career goal. After all, you don’t want just anything; you want something specific. So be specific!

Step 1: Say the Position You Want

This is pretty straightforward. No matter what position you’re looking for, you’ll start here. “I’m currently looking for a position as….” This is the job title you want: CMO, project manager, pharmaceutical sales, etc.

Step 2: Share the Industry, Company, or Type of Company

If you just stop with the position you’re looking for, some people who are unfamiliar with the position or industry will be lost. And because the human state is that we don’t want to look stupid, they won’t ask.


Instead of leaving your audience dumbfounded, provide some context.


Share either the industry, a specific company, or a type of company you’re interested in working for. Don’t be afraid to get too specific. We do much better moving from specific to general than we do from general to specific.

Step 3: Put It Together

In practice, this will look something like:


“I’m currently looking for a position as a project manager. I’m targeting companies within the IT industry, such as Apple or Microsoft.”


“I’m currently looking for a position as a marketing manager. My main goal is to work at the Four Seasons, but I’d be interested in any high-end hospitality company.”


When you provide some context, your listeners will start to create a mental picture of who they know who can help you, and before you know it, you’ll have an introduction.

The Tip of the Iceberg

At Ink & Quill Communications, we provide our clients with not only a resume, but the skills they need to find a job. Answering the question, “What do you do?” is just the tip of the iceberg. We also cover interviewing, looking for a job, and your 30-second commercial. That way, when you begin your job search, you’ll have the tools you need to be successful. And you’ll feel empowered to go out and get that next job.


Check out our packages to learn more.