How to Answer “What Do You Do?”, No Matter What You Do
‘What do you do?’
Think about how many times you’ve been asked this question in one form or another...
It’s a whole lot, isn’t it?
Behind being asked your name, this is probably the most common question you hear.
Despite its frequency though, a great many people still don’t deal with this question well.
In fact, I commonly see people stumble and answer awkwardly or give such a rote/boring answer that it gives the other conversation participant nothing to move forward with.
... though, how you address this one little question can have large implications for the way people perceive you, positively or negatively, particularly in the early stages of an interaction.
What we’ll discuss here today is how to use ‘What do you do?’ to your advantage, so that you can leverage your answer to this question as a positive source of interest, intrigue, and conversation... in any interaction.
It doesn’t really make sense, does it? That this question is asked so much, yet people still have so much trouble with it. Let’s examine why that is -
The main reason this question is so hard that the people you’re speaking with define you by what you do. It’s one of those big pieces of your identity puzzle that others use to make all kinds of inferences about you. When you’re asked what you do, you know that some judgement is coming... inadvertent or otherwise.
This is particularly marked in the beginning stage of an interaction, when you’re likely to be asked about what you do. Obviously, somebody you’ve known for a while will usually already know what job you have or what you’re doing with your life, so this question is much more likely to come from a stranger.
When someone knows nothing else about you besides your name,
appearance, and job title, though, she doesn’t have much to make her
inferences about your background, ambition, education, earning power,
and much more besides that last - so that’s what she’ll use to evaluate
On a personal level, individuals also associate large parts of their identity with what they do – so it’s not just the person asking who defines you by what you do. It’s also yourself.
This is particularly marked for men, as what men do typically takes a much more defining role in their identities than it does for women, because of the fact that men can’t bear children on their own (and thus, take identity from the raising of their children) and have traditionally been seen as the provider; a man’s value in Western society is strongly tied to his role in that society.
This results in an added pressure on the question of ‘What do you do?’ for men when women do the asking, because many men believe that if they don’t have a job that could place them in the role of provider, then it won’t be seen as traditionally masculine and hence they fear they’ll be seen as unattractive.
As a result, many people, particularly men, feel uncomfortable when being asked this question.
The 3 Types of Answers
Generally speaking, here are the three types of categories guys fall into:
The Awkward Answer: men who get awkward/are afraid to say what they do because they don’t like it/fear it detracts value from their character use this response
The Confident Answer: men who are confident to say what they do because they like it/it adds value to their character respond this way
The Intriguing Answer: men who see their response here as a window to intrigue and more conversation answer like this
Here’s how these each breaks down.
The Awkward Answer
If a person is unhappy with his lot in life, you can tell pretty quickly just by asking him what he does.
If a girl you’d just met was to query you on what you do and you offer a limp-wristed reply about how you’re “just bartending while looking for another job” (I’m a bartender myself so no, not hatin’ on bartenders), then this isn’t going to garner you any attraction; in fact, it’ll probably do the opposite.
That’s because it communicates that you aren’t in control of your life and that you don’t really like what you’re doing. Not so attractive or confidence-inspiring.
Thought this answer sets in motion for a girl: treat this guy as somebody who isn’t really in control of his life.
The Confident Answer
This one is much better than the first option; yet, it doesn’t always help to say what you do straight off the bat. Were you to answer confidently, depending on what you do, you’ll slot yourself into one of two potential roles:
⇒ Role 1 – Impresser / Potential Provider
If you’re a doctor and you tell a woman this, you automatically slot yourself into the potential provider category. Throwing around impressive-sounding credentials will frequently be impressive to both men and women alike... but that’s not necessarily a good thing all the time, nor the most conducive to your purposes.
As discussed in ‘Telling Women You're NOT Boyfriend Material’, being seen as too high value can actually be counter-productive to moving an interaction into sexual territory with a girl as she is much more likely to slow-play you if she suspects you can fulfil a more ‘serious’ role in her life.
Not to mention the fact that the key to a woman’s heart is through mind-exploding sexual experiences,
this is even counterproductive what you WANT is a relationship – see
the example of Pete and Jerry in ‘How to Get Girls: The Last Post You'll Ever
Need’ to understand why this is.
Thought this answer sets in motion for a girl: treat this guy as a potential provider / boyfriend / husband.
⇒ Role 2 – Potential Lover
If you’re a bartender and you tell a woman this, you’re much more likely to get typecast into the potential lover category.
There aren’t many jobs better for getting you slotted into the potential lover role than a job as a bartender, but if you have a relative amount of charisma and confidence, any job that doesn’t net huge amounts of income can mean you’ll usually be placed into the role of potential lover (assuming you have the sexiness to back that designation up).
Getting slotted into the lover role is pretty good... but as it were, you can still go one better.
Thought this answer sets in motion for a girl: treat this guy as a potential lover.
The Intriguing Answer
Men who make use of the intriguing answer are confident with their responses to ‘What do you do?’, just like men who use the confident answer. Yet, they know a little something extra that the men from our second category of answer do not.
What the men who make use of the intriguing answer know is that since this question pops up so much, it’s a very reliable pivot point to take their conversations in the directions that they wish them to go.
The aim here is to avoid being typecast straight away. Because this question has large scope to put you in a pigeonhole, if you avoid answering it to a woman’s complete satisfaction, even if only for a short time, you can generate intrigue.
Thought this answer sets in motion: I can’t get a read on this guy – let me dig a little deeper (and invest some time trying to work him out).
She wants to get to the bottom of this new, intriguing man.
Believe it or not, crafting intrigue in this way is actually quite simple. But for our intrigue to work properly, we’ve got to also flip the situation and start making it about her.
If a girl spends a few minutes talking about herself (at your prompting) and she knows a little about you at all, this is when you’ll likely develop a strong measure of intrigue.
The Playful Response: Make Her Guess
This one’s best used in playful / flirty situations, and with younger women who haven’t seen it before a hundred times already yet. With the playful response, you want to make women work to find out what you do.
That looks like this:
Her: “So what do you do?”
You: [pause] “Have a guess... What do I look like I do?” [said with a light, flirtatious vibe]
As soon as you come out with an answer like this it’ll immediately
jog the girl you’re speaking with into being more present, breaking her
out of autopilot.
This is because so many people have constructed a rote answer to this question, so when you differentiate yourself by answering it in an unconventional way, you automatically make the conversation more interesting.
Her: [smiling] “Ohh I don’t know... I’m not good at guessing.”
You: “Nah come on, you’ve got to make a good detective with those discerning eyes of yours. Have a guess...”
Think about including an observation like this unconventional ‘is-it-a-compliment?’ compliment if a girl shows some trepidation. However, if she’s up for it straight away, then encouragement isn’t needed.
As an alternative, if you prefer
route to the playful
route here, you can also respond to “I’m not good at guessing” with: “Aren’t you? Oh... well, what do YOU do?”
and follow her answer by deep diving into how she likes
her work, how she got into it, why she does it, etc. You can really end
up getting pretty deep into conversation before she even realizes that
she never found out what you do – and sometimes, she’ll never even
bother or remember to ask again (and will find you all the more
mysterious and intriguing for being at once both captivated by and also
so little informed about you).
Assuming you go the playful and flirty route, when a girl starts guessing, just playfully tease her answers, like so:
Her: “All right, all right... are you a lawyer?”
You: “Okay, I take that back... those eyes aren’t so discerning [said with a joking deadpan]. I’ll give you two more guesses.”
This is my personal favourite course to follow here because there are rafts of different possibilities. You’re taking the lead and also flipping the conversation to make it about her instead of you (which she enjoys more, and is more productive for your purposes anyway).
And it’ll play out all kinds of ways; she may say “give me a clue”, she may tease you back by saying “a used-car salesman” or something like that.
So it also gives you an indication of what type of a girl she’s going to be. If she launches right in with some guesses and takes you teasing her in a good-natured way you’re onto a girl you can have some conversational fun with.
If a girl doesn’t take to this well, you’ll have to take even more control of the situation and coax her into it.
Also, you don’t need to get stuck on this, after she’s guessed two or three times you should have enough to take the conversation somewhere else.
Note on context: obviously,
this is a pretty playful and flirty reply... it works quite well in social circle (my favorite), and
in parties, bars, and nightclubs where
a very fun and welcoming atmosphere. It can also work well in relaxed
environments where a girl is clearly interested in you and settled into
a conversation – say, in a cafeteria, or if you’ve met in a coffee shop
and there’s a good deal of interest coming off her already. If she
seems standoffish, or if you meet her in a rushed scenario like day game frequently is, you’ll
want to skip playful and go with something more practical (which we’ll
discuss in just a moment, as the seductive answer).
There are many other avenues you can use to pivot from ‘What do you do?’. I’m sure you could come up with some yourself that’ll work fluidly with your conversational style, but here are a couple more fun examples I’ve employed from time to time in various situations that help to build intrigue:
⇒ Example 1
Her: “So then... What do you do?”
You: “Me..? What do I do..? Usually brunettes [if she’s blonde; or, say ‘blondes’ if she’s brunette]. But I’ve taken a vow of abstinence recently, so nothing much lately.”
This a great way to turn the conversation sexual. Though if you aren’t confident you can deliver this properly, then steer clear or reserve it for when a girl that you’ve already been talking to for a bit asks you the question.
⇒ Example 2
Her: “What do you do then?”
You: “I’m unemployed... I pretty much just hang around in my parents basement reading comics and watching internet porn. What do you do?”
This may not be your style at all. But I’ve used stuff like this to great effect many times. Self-deprecation and teasing the girl with how un-seriously you take her question/conversation communicates a whole lot of confidence.
The main point in all these examples is that you remain slippery in your answers while turning the conversation back to her. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Having said that, you don’t want to be elusive ad nauseum; you’ll need some real stuff in there to ground you in her mind, hence our practical answer.
The Seductive Answer: Make Her Dream
When I told Chase I was writing this article, he let me know he was working on one on identity, and that he’d tie that one into this.
So, I don’t want to go too deeply into picking an identity for yourself that sets you up with an inherently seductive aura, since the identity piece will be on this, but here’s how this works.
Let’s say you’re in a place where you can’t be playful and flirty – you’ve just met her on a fast-paced city street, or while walking through the airport, for instance – and there’s zero chance of her stopping to play a game of “guess my profession”.
Or, you’re pretty confident that she isn’t all that excited about meeting you just yet, and a playful guessing game is going to hit a wall of opposition that’s going to start you off with her on an even worse foot.
How do you turn this question to your advantage anyway?
The answer is in having a reply that is light on details but heavy on symbolism, and serves as bait to tempt her to ask you more about it and you – or, to simply assume that you are some attractive, mysterious, unusual man.
That looks like this:
Her: “What do you do?”
You: “I’m a traveler, mostly... I write for fun, and make art when I like. And you – what do you do?”
You can pick any of a number of different interesting-sounding descriptors to answer ‘What do you do?’; you don’t have to answer with your job. Anything remotely interesting that you DO you can spin into your answer to the question of what do you do; for example:
- Taker of pictures
... anything that breaks the mold of what she’s accustomed to hearing in day-to-day conversation, and that paints you as someone living a life of creativity, expression, freedom, and passion.
If you want to avoid further questions, combine three of these into your response:
- “I’m a philosopher, though I paint and take pictures, too.”
- “I’m an adventurer, writer, and journalist.”
- “I’m a sculptor who spends time traveling and painting from time to time, too.”
Regardless of whether you go the playful route, or the seductive route (or both; playful first, and seductive when pressed for a solid answer), from here the world is your oyster; you have the girl’s interest, and you’re leading the conversation and can take it any place you wish it to go.
So What Do You Do?
Summing up the main points of our article, here’s a re-cap of what we just went over:
Getting asked ‘What do you do?’ is an extremely common question
Despite this, many people have trouble answering it
This is because of the defining role it plays in your identity and how people perceive you
Men also perceive the added pressure of requiring a masculine, provider-like job to appear an attractive prospect
There are three types of answers that men will give when asked the question
The first is one that lacks confidence in saying what they do; this communicates discontent and sets a frame that the man is not in control of his life
The second one is when a man is confident to say what he does because he likes it/it is perceived as high value
This can have him type-cast into either the provider role or the lover role, depending on the nature of the job and the girl he is interacting with
The third answer is using the question as a pivot point to create intrigue and lead the conversation in a direction you wish it to go
There are myriad ways to do this, but a good one is have them guess what you do and then tease them about their guesses
The important thing for being playful and flirty is to remain slippery in your answers and to turn the conversation back towards her so that she can talk about herself
Another option is to select activities or passions of yours, and use these as your response, instead of listing your job, which is boring
Lastly: don’t take yourself too seriously
‘Til next time,
Get Your FREE eBook on Texting Girls
Sign up for our email insights series and get a copy of our popular ebook “How to Text Girls” FREE. Learn more ...
Trying to piece together a seduction strategy bit-by-bit, article-by-article, question-by-question? Stop killing yourself doing it the slow and difficult way - and get it all spelled out for you instead, in detail, in exactly the order you need to learn it... with homework, too.
With our complete mastery pick up package, you'll get our 406-page how-to eBook How to Make Girls Chase, our 63-minute long video Spellbinding: Get Her Talking, and 3 hours of audio training - all for less than the price of the book and video alone.
Quit banging your head against the wall - get it now, to speed your learning curve up dramatically... and start really getting the women you want to want you too. You can go right here to get started and be downloading your programs in minutes: How to Be a Pick Up Artist.