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Are you able to clearly articulate what you do?

I am not a fan of public transport, and one thing that particularly irritates me is people who make phone calls and speak so loudly that everyone else in the bus can hear their conversation.

It’s bad enough when you only have to hear half the conversation from the person in the bus. But yesterday I was sitting behind a guy whose mother was also speaking so loudly on the other end of the phone that my fellow passengers and I were exposed to the full conversation.

Passenger: “Hi, Mum. It’s me”

Mother: “How are you, dear?”

Passenger: “Great. I just wanted to let you and Dad know that Michelle got that job she was going for. She starts in four weeks”

Mother: “That’s terrific. I’ll call her later to say congratulations properly. What’s she going to be doing?”

Passenger: “Umm… communications analyst something… product marketing… oh look, Mum, I really don’t know.”

The conversation continued for a while longer but what the guy in front of me had just said really got me thinking. In the same way that he hadn’t been able to quite articulate what Michelle would be doing in her new role, I’d also met with a few candidates myself recently who to be honest struggled to explain to me exactly what they did in their own positions.

While you might not be asked to list every bullet pointed responsibility contained in your job description during an interview, you will certainly be expected to confidently talk about what you do on a daily basis.

In the same way that you need to be able to clearly articulate your career objective, you must be able to succinctly describe your role – bearing in mind that a job title can mean different things to different organisations. So never assume that the person interviewing you has a crystal ball or understands every aspect of your job. It’s up to you to convey it to the person sitting opposite you.

If you had 10 seconds right now to describe your current role, what specifically would you say?

I am not suggesting that you’re on the lookout for a new job, but it’s worth practicing anyway. After all, a punchy and succinct position summary could also be included on your LinkedIn profile to save interested readers having to scroll through an entire job description that you may have otherwise just pasted in.

Remember the basic concept of the elevator pitch: Being able to succinctly describe who you are, what you do, and what makes you unique.

Here’s hoping Michelle can articulate her new “communications analyst something” role better than my fellow bus passenger.

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