So, What Do You Do?

I have just returned following a few days away. A short break usually means some random conversations with fellow holidaymakers and travellers, and at some stage in each conversation there will be the inevitable question…

‘So what do you do?’

In days gone by a quick ‘I work in recruitment‘ or ‘I recruit HR and Marketing people‘ was usually enough to ensure a change of subject but over the last two years it’s been slightly different.

I work in digital marketing’ will often induce glazed eyes but sometimes I feel quite bold and fess up with ‘I’m social media manager for a large digital recruitment business’

The conversation will then go something like…

Them : What, you mean Twitter and that stuff?

Me : Yes. It’s a bit more than that (insert quick explanation about creating content, brand monitoring and community engagement)

Them : Don’t get the point of that Twitter stuff. Or Facebook. Just another fad if you ask me.

Me : We’ll, I think it’s probably gone beyond the fad stage (insert an overview of the numbers and reach of the platforms, the rise of social business and peer recommendations etc)

Them : Sell it to me then. Why should I use it?

Me : Well I don’t like ‘selling’ it to people, but what line of business did you say you were in (insert examples of how social media impacts their industry or job, find out hobbies and interests and attempt to show the value of connecting with like-minded people)

Them : Well I can see that you’re passionate about it but I’m not convinced. The wife does Facebook. She spends all her time looking at photos that her friends put on there. Who can be bothered I ask myself.

Me : (thinking that I should be talking to the wife) Think of it as communication…

You get the picture. The conversation can sometimes go on quite a while with me increasingly adopting an almost exasperatingly apologetic tone as if I’ve got an embarrassing addiction that I need to defend. (Maybe I do)

So tell me…how do you guys explain what you do…


6 thoughts on “So, What Do You Do?

  1. Great post Mervyn! I realised a couple of years ago that when people ask what you “do” they are actually really asking what you “are”. Titles, badges, people love to categorise. So when someone asks what I “do”, I’ve taken to saying “I make sense of employment law for businesses and lawyers” I get some strange looks and very often the next question will be “hmmm, so what does that make you then?”. “Well…” I say “I’m an employment law specialist”. A look of relief because now I have a title, a label, a tag.

    Does anyone else find that odd?

  2. I empathise, explaining what we do under the HR umbrella can be pretty hard work too 🙂

    I think the ‘sell it to me’ comment is interesting, I’ve had that before with Social Media work. It always comes off slightly arrogant to me like ‘impress me’ (because I need to look important as I’m really too scared or too lazy to look into it myself! – ok probably a bit of a generalisation!).

    I am a Talent Intelligence Analyst! So after explaining that I don’t work for MI5 the way I usually start it is, “I collect information about people in our company and look for trends to help us to look after them the best we can and prepare the business for the future”.

    A ‘what this looks like’ conversation then follows! I try to use things people know about to show the benefits of my role. So – you know when you answer those questionnaires about the company? Well you’ll be glad to know they don’t just get filed or put aside…..


  3. Me: I run a PR agency

    Them: What like Patsy and Eddie off abfab – all champers, diining out and getting free designer labels

    Me: err no – our clients are in recruitment, talent management and business education

    Them: Why do they need a Max Clifford then – do they often get into publicity scrapes

    Me:’s more about positioning them as thought leaders

    Them: How do you do that then – getting then in the papers and stuff?

    Me: It;s a bit more than that – these days it’s about creating really good content that is not only read – but also shared

    Them: Shared how? Like I give my paper to someone else to read

    Me: No – through social media channels

    Them: Oh – i met this guy called Mervyn that was into all that stuff -dont get the point of it myself!

    Me – head in hands with phone – @mervyndinnen – fancy a beer 😉

  4. Oh I know this! You see, I could just leave it at recruitment – really I could – but I don’t – I add the social media bit, to make it a bit more interesting. However although this conversation is often had – it is rarely understood. haha.

    It’s a lessen about being in a bubble. I think we have to realistic that on the face of it, ACTIVE social media usage is still in the realms of 10-15% of the population (at best). Social Media for BUSINESS purposes is still not understood on a far wider scale – including some of those trying to do it!!

  5. I’ve given up trying to explain or be sorry for being in HR and Social Media all at the same time.
    I have trouble convincing Graduates they should be doing more of the Social Media stuff even the basics of LinkedIn let alone my friends who use twitter to ‘follow’ news rather than use it to have open communications.

    I think Merv its always going to get an odd look when you say I work in HR/Recruitment industries but I do it on Social Platforms, but we know it works and we know its worth and I have taken to just thinking to myself …. Just you wait and see how it pays off for the rest of us using.

  6. I don’t try to sell social media to people – they have to come to it on their own (or not). When they ask me to “sell” it to them I tell them I can’t, that it’s not for everyone. I find most people are quite disarmed and relieved by that. If people want to stay in the past then I’m happy to leave them there really.

    When it comes to telling people I work in recruitment, they usually want to share a ranty horror story or two – usually quite entertaining. What’s depressing is the growing anger towards poorly thought-out approaches from recruiters via LinkedIn.

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