I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Explaining your job

When you tell people what you do for a living, do you use the same language that they would use if they were describing it to someone else?

Discrepancies usually arise if your title is too specific or technical for most people to know or remember what it is, and you haven’t given a simple enough version for people outside of your field to understand. But often, it’s because your job title is a euphemism.

Sometimes, this is because the job isn’t very desirable, even if it’s a respectable and honest job. “Waste manager” and “sanitation engineer” sound better than “garbage man”.

But it could also be that your job is less important, less respected, or less ethical than you’d like to think. For instance, someone might say they’re in “direct marketing”, but most people would explain that as “junk mail” or “telemarketing”.

When people ask me what I do, I say, “I make an iPhone app.” They understand immediately, and explain it to others as, “He makes an iPhone app.” I never forget how fortunate I am that I can be proud of what I do.

If you had to explain your job the way other people do, would you be ashamed of what you do, or would you be proud?

If you can’t be proud of your real job title, maybe it’s time for a change.