Describe your job in 7 words or less

Having a quick way to sum up your work is good for social situations and job pitches, writes GovLoop's Andy Krzmarzick.

Never mind Twitter's140 characters — try describing what you do in seven words or less.

That was the challenge posed by David Dejewski a few weeks ago, and more than 300 GovLoop members have tackled his test of truncation.

Here are a few of my favorites.

  • “Manage 350,000 acres of National Forest lands.” — Norman, district ranger, Forest Service
  • “Warrior-poet with license to litigate.” — Richard, executive assistant, Office of Inspector General, Labor Department
  • “I make paper go away.” — Daniel, human resources information systems manager, Justice Department
  • “Explore the universe in a sustainable way.” — Joe, special assistant for procurement, Mission Operations Directorate, NASA
  • “Chart audits to improve children’s immunization rates.” — Elissa, public health administrator, Chicago Public Health Department
  • “Paid to shop.” — Amanda, contract specialist, Tennessee Army National Guard

At first blush, you might dismiss this exercise as idle or impractical.

But think about it: How many times do you and I introduce ourselves to people each week and struggle to offer a satisfying description?

For me, when I stick out my hand and declare, “Hi, I’m the community manager of an online community for government employees!” people nod politely and say, “Oh.” But if I suddenly bust out with a “cross between Captain Stubing and Jeff Probst,” I seem to get their attention.

Of course, having an at-the-ready, Twitter-like summation of your title and tasks pays the biggest dividends when you meet a prospective employer.

Another GovLoop blog post, titled “Networking Strategies for Chocolates Lovers,” offers 12 tips for folks who are searching for their next job opportunity, including this delectable morsel:

"Know the language of your 'target' — every office has its own culture and jargon. Use every resource you have to learn that jargon and the important issues that are confronting that office. When it comes time to interview for the job you want, the interview panel will be impressed."

This advice is not only applicable to interviews but for any moment when you know you’ll be encountering fresh faces. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to have several versions of your seven-word summary to capture the attention of various audiences.

Now some of you might scoff, thinking that you have your elevator pitch perfected.

Well, if seven words is too easy for you, Dejewski recently opened another thread, inviting members to tackle “You in Haiku.” Apparently, that brand of brevity is only for the brave because he has received only one response (yes, that would be me, like Captain Stubing of "The Love Boat," offering gracious hospitality to a valued guest).

There was another courageous commenter in the original forum — Paul Boos, a software development manager at the Environmental Protection Agency, who eschewed the stated convention and penned this poem:

Agility sought
Remove the endless barriers
Now the path is smooth

Now it’s your turn — in seven words.

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