The last thing you want to do when you hate your job is tell someone about the job you hate.
So, what do you do instead? You avoid networking events like the plague, hang out in a corner at your significant other’s holiday parties, and dash to the restroom – at any and every gathering – when the conversation starts to turn to the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?”
I know that scenario all too well, I used to excuse myself to the restroom in hopes that by the time I came back from scrolling through my phone, someone would’ve changed the topic to something more exciting, and less focused on me and the job I hated.
But that isn’t the best method for increasing your chances of finding out about new opportunities and building genuine relationships with people who would be happy to help you through your job hunt.
Here’s a simple approach to try instead:
Step One: Don’t Talk About What You Do
No, don’t run to the restroom. But, don’t dive into everything you do at work nor everything your company does. If you typically resort to giving a crash course on your company and always find yourself sharing irrelevant details about your day-to-day, you don’t have to do that anymore.
Focus on one element of your career that matters to you right now, or that at the very least gives context to your experience. For instance, if you’re a marketing coordinator at a company you despise, don’t even mention the company, just mention your title. “I’m a marketing coordinator.” Full stop.
If you’re not a fan of your title, you can skip it entirely and focus on the industry you work in or the type of company you work at if it has a nice ring to it. For example, let’s say you’re a business analyst and you don’t like your title because you’re ready for a different role, but you work for a well-known company like McKinsey & Company. You could just say, “I work at McKinsey & Company.” Or, “I work in management consulting.”
However you choose to say it, keep it brief, sweet and to the point. No need to ramble or divulge how much you hate your boss, co-workers and everything else about your company.
Step Two: Focus on What You Want to Do Next
This small tweak is a game changer. This is not about saying, “I’m looking for new opportunities.” Never say that. That statement is vague and doesn’t help other people help you.
Rather, be specific and clear about the opportunities you’re chasing: “I’m a marketing coordinator but I’m hoping to transition into a brand strategy role soon.” Or, “I work in management consulting, but I’m really passionate about strategy & operations and I’m hoping to transition into an in-house role soon.”
When you’re direct about what you’re pursuing next in your career, it subtly lets others know how they can connect you to contacts and opportunities that may be a great fit for you, without you having to beg or hint. It also frees you from the box of what you currently do and allows new and old friends to remember you by what you’re truly passionate about, which is a win-win for you.
So, the next time you’re headed to meet new people, remember to say: “I work at [company name], but I’m really passionate about [other career or role] and I’m hoping to transition into that soon.” Or, “I’m a [title you don’t mind telling others], but I’m hoping to transition into [other position or industry] soon.”
By introducing yourself in this way, you’ll be well on your way to building genuine influential relationships with people who might just be able to help you secure your next career move, and you’d no longer be subjected to hide in a corner or dash to the restroom to avoid the question, “So, what do you do?”
Adunola Adeshola coaches high-achievers on how to take their careers to the next level and secure the positions they’ve been chasing. She’s also the founder of the career site, employeeREDEFINED.com.
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