Explaining what you do in 30 seconds without mentioning your function or title

Make it snappy and add pizzazz, don’t just tell people your job title.

Start-up businesses are counselled to get their pitch down to the skin and bones so that they can present their business idea in a short ride in a lift – the so called ‘Elevator Pitch’.

By honing ‘what they do’ and their plans for expansion and success down to 30 seconds or so, they’re able to succinctly talk to anyone influential they happen to bump into – any where, any time.

Can you tell people what you do in the same way? Sure, you can say “I’m VP of Marketing at Hutchinson” but that’s calorie free, in a bad way. I’m supposed to be impressed with your job title, without knowing anything about what you do for your company, or what your company can do for me / the world.

Think about your role, and your department’s role, and your company’s role in the wider community, not just the market place. Can you find a concise way of explaining what you do that’s interesting and gets a conversation started, rather than finishing it with “I’m CEO of Quango Limited”?

What you do is more important than your responsibilities

You might be accountable / responsible* for marketing in your company, but so what? Does that mean you spend all day signing off on other people’s ideas? No? Then tell me what you actually do.

Try telling people what you do on a day to day basis, and more importantly, tell people what affect you have on people’s lives.

Try telling people what affect your company has on the community and how you help it do that.

OK, me first. Here’s the bad version of me.

“I’m the intranet editor within Internal Communications at a large regional service company that has global interests.”

Y’know, I might have actually been impressed with that five years ago, but I’ve had loads of jobs now and I know you can’t tell jack from such a bland job description.

Let’s try again and this time I’ll focus on what I do to help people…

“I help keep our company on track to deliver our vital public services; I help our people engage with our company’s aims and objectives, so we can all share the same vision and move forward as one, single company.

“I run the intranet and I make sure we, as a company, are communicating in brilliant fashion to make sure we’re all moving in the same direction to keep our millions of customers happy and healthy.”

How’s that? Well, what did you expect? (I can’t be more detailed because then I’d give away who my employer is, and I’m committed to keeping them respectfully separate from my blog.) Add some pizzazz and show your understanding of the wider world outside your job title. I didn’t say that my job was so exciting! But actually, you know I love my career within Internal Communications, and I totally respect where my company is heading. That’s why I’m able to proudly state that I help keep the company on track as one single company, rather than dozens of different departments. My role within Internal Communications is to ensure that the company speaks with one voice to all our colleagues, not just to half of them.

OK, me again. I could tell you about my voluntary work and the voluntary organisation I founded and run. We hardly have job titles over there, so I’d have to give you a snappy description of what we do, but it’s time to ask you – “and what do you do?”


P.S. Your company’s ‘About Us‘ page should also succinctly capture what you do; get rid of the marketese blah-blah words and just say what you do and who it affects.

*Yes I know these two words are not synonyms, they mean distinct things and the difference is important. Discussion for another day.

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