This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer. Some people hold more than one job, others have a new way of working, while others still have job descriptions that didn’t exist 5 years ago.
As a web worker, you’re probably at least one of the above. If you’re mingling with other web workers, answering “What do you do?” is easy. But if you ask your less web-savvy friends if they can explain your job back to you, you’ll find that they don’t get it.
I’m a blogger, but I’ve heard more than a dozen versions of my job from other people. Others think I’m a Google employee, online English teacher, or a criminal mastermind hacker (no joke). If you understand my situation, then it’s likely that you’ve run into it yourself.
So how do you answer that cocktail question without causing confusion or misunderstandings among people who are unfamiliar with web working?
Begin with the simplest definition of your job. Try to use as little words as possible, but make sure that each word is familiar to your audience. Also, don’t use jargon. Many people have never heard of search engine optimization, Web 2.0 apps, or even blogs. Here are some examples of web jobs simplified:
I’m a web content writer = I write copy for websites
I’m an online affiliate marketer = I sell other people’s products online
I’m an SEO practicioner = I help websites rank well when people search for them in Google, Yahoo, etc.
I’m a podcast producer = I run some internet radio shows
If you’re worried that a simple description doesn’t do your job justice, don’t worry. Odds are, people are curious enough to inquire more about your work, and that’s when you can delve into the details such as whom you work for (as a freelancer or as an employee) and where you do your work.
With some audiences, you can’t mention the phrase “web worker”, “telecommuting”, or “teleworking” without getting puzzled looks. If this happens, be ready with an explanation that you use the internet to work from anyplace you like, so you usually work from home (if that’s the case).
Have a ready answer to the most common questions. After you’ve established the basics, some people are keen to know more – especially after you mention the fact that you work from home. Freelancers are commonly asked, “Where do you find work?” and “How do you get paid?” As for teleworking employees, they usually get “How can your boss monitor you?” Answer these questions well, and people will be a step closer to understanding your work.
Dispel the myths. Since web working isn’t that prevalent, it’s no surprise that there are several teleworking myths. If people bring up these myths thinking that they are truths, don’t get mad, but set the record straight.
While web working isn’t the easiest thing to explain to others, it is becoming more commonplace. In a few years we probably won’t be facing any awkward silences and questions about what we do for a living and where we do it.