What do you do? (Tag Lines Tell the Tale!)

“What do you do?”

In our society this is the first question we’re asked, after “What is your name?”

The real question is: “How do you answer this question?”

Do you tell people your title: clerk, programmer, driver, teacher, sales rep or receptionist — or do you answer more descriptively?

Too many people respond to this question with a bland, unimaginative job title or standard industry classification (SIC) code.


To set yourself apart from the crowd, cast your profession in its most ennobling light and focus on the benefits of your work as they accrue to others!

Consider Ruth Blumert Walker,  longtime receptionist for the Oakland, California law firm of Donahue, Gallagher, Woods and Wood, who has since retired. When asked her occupation, Walker proudly proclaimed to all who asked: “I’m the Director of First Impressions.”  Indeed she was!

Walker knew that people dreaded going to a law firm. They usually arrived due to a problem, and their visit was costly to boot. Walker understood the key role she played in their experience, and her moniker showcased the power she possessed to make a difference.

Tag Yourself!

Why not replace your official title or occupation with a more descriptive tag line? An effective “tag line” casts your skills in an ennobling light, sharing pride in your chosen profession.  People respond affirmatively when you tantalize and enthrall them with an interesting or compelling tag line. Furthermore, you’re sending a message you have a strong sense of who you are and what you do and are thus deemed more hireable.

Consider the following:

  • The residential realtor who describes herself as “putting people into their dream home.”  What a powerful statement she is making.
  • The commercial credit specialist who smiles and tells strangers who ask that he is “giving credit where credit is due.”
  • A commercial airline pilot informs people who ask that she is “shrinking the globe to reunite families and loved ones.”
  • A midwife proudly proclaims that she is “bringing new life into this world.”

In each case these professionals are sharing some of the magic of their profession with their listeners. And listeners respond accordingly. It’s a powerful conversation opener, whether in a networking event, a job interview or just during casual conversation.

Whatever your profession, you can create a “tag” line to showcase the results of your work and cast it in an ennobling light, showcase the solutions, outcomes of benefits you provide.

Here are some more examples to stimulate your creative juices:

  • Past President’s Distinguished District Governor Cassandra Cockrill DTM, who introduces herself as “an evangelist for better thinking, better listening and better speaking!”
  • The Internal Revenue Service agent who tells people who ask that he’s a “government fundraiser.”
  • The Gardener tells people “I Turn the World Green…one garden at a time.”
  • The Dietitian who declares “I Teach People How to Behave in Front of Food.”
  • The Voice Coach who proclaims she “Gives Voice to the Timid.”
  • The Telephone Customer Service Representative (CSR) who tells people she “has a special calling.”
  • The Plantronics headset saleswoman who says she helps people “Use their head… not their hands. “
  • The photographer who smiles as he tells people he “Gets paid to shoot people for a living.”
  • The executive assistant who calls herself the “Presidential Gatekeeper.”
  • And even the motivational speaker, Craig Harrison, who tells people he’s “a motivational magician who turns listeners’ aspirations into achievements.”

It’s your turn!  Look anew at your occupation or profession and identify its outcome or the effect its commission has on people.  Now create a descriptive tag line to excite others about what you do, and what it can do for them!

Use the power of language to create a compelling tag line that gives you pride and infuses others with excitement too.

Tag, you’re IT!

Posted in Communication, job seekers, Networking, Sales, Training | Tagged as: , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to What do you do? (Tag Lines Tell the Tale!)

  1. I like the concept of creatively identifying yourself in a unique way. I recently changed jobs after so many years as a school administrator. For awhile I actually got that dreamed-of sabbatical- 6 months without working. And yet, I was presenting at a conference and asked by someone what I “was” and suddenly answered “nothing.” Yikes, what was that about? It caused me to think deeply about the difference between who I was and what I do. Identity is such an amazing thing. Now I am working in a very different type of position- and loving it. The very position of Director of Not In Our School- causes people to say “what is that?” So, my tagline is that “I inspire youth to be upstanders to stop bullying and intolerance…” and then I get asked “what does that mean?” The magic is in the conversation.

    • admin says:

      Great points Becki. The best tag lines invite dialog and further inquiry. They open and sometimes shape the conversation to come. How fun to realize we still play tag, even ‘after school!’

  2. Ian McDonald says:

    Brilliant article! I’m forwarding to a buddy who’s losing his job (because the company’s moving to Texas and he’s firmly planted in the SF Bay Area). He’s in the customer service business now, and I can see him using the technique of describing his occupation as along the lines of “I’m the Director of First Impressions.” or “Director of Positive Impressions.”

    Now that I’ve committed to evangelizing for someone else, it’s time to look at my own (current & future) titles!

    • admin says:

      Tag lines are great for job seekers as it shows they have a sense of self, purpose and place withing a future organization. The best ones aren’t just about the candidate, but what they can do for their employer, or how they fit within the organization’s existing structure. Thanks for sharing!

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