“What Do You Do For a Living?”


I generally can not stand this question when first meeting people.  Yes, I understand we are moving toward a 100% connected society, and not just in America – we’re talking global networking here!  That is amazing really.  I also understand asking this question is the basis of networking, but let’s talk honestly about the underlining meaning of asking this question.  We can conduct business around the world or even meet a future romantic partner in another country.  So, why are so many preoccupied in asking about how someone makes money?  We are all aware it has to happen in order for all of us to survive, but why do we all really care?

What do you do for a living? 

I sometimes think we ask this of potential partners as a way to see if they either fit into our lives now, or we see if they will fit into our lives down the road in our projected fantasy of where we think (or hope) things are going.  There is nothing wrong with building your life up and dreaming, but we should bring some of those dreams down to earth.  With the way the current job market is going, that pretty sales job may not be a reality in another 6 months to a year.  Or they might still be a catch even though they sell coffee at this stage in their life.  A lot of adults are finding themselves praying they can afford to go back to school in an effort to start over due to a dried up job sector.  Of course, that trend causes employers to pay less since everyone has a similar degree or background now.  There is so much over-saturation these days.  It’s very hard for a lot of people to get by, let alone be proud of their job title or how intensive their resume is.  No one should feel ashamed over that.

Instead of talking about something you already do for 40+ hours a week, why not ask more probing questions that actually dictate what kind of person they are.  Some of my favorites are: “Would you rather live somewhere else in the world, or stay in the US?”  “Which hobby is your passion?”  “Do you prefer to read books or watch movies?”  and so on.  You can easily create your own list before a date or work function.  You will be surprised at how willing most people are to share their life with you.  I invite you to test this out in your personal life.  Another suggestion to break away from the dry questionnaire style is to arrange a fun activity that engages the group.  If you are having a dinner party or get together, playing various games help mix things up and keep it lively.

I invite you to try this out this weekend, especially if you are meeting someone for a first date.  Make a short list of questions ahead of time or practice with a friend.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how well things will go, and how much more you will learn about the other person when you both feel comfortable.

What are some of your favorite questions to ask in getting to know another person?

2 thoughts on ““What Do You Do For a Living?”

  1. I don’t think the problem is asking the question. It’s a perfectly legitimate inquiry. It’s if you judge someone based on what they do for a living that things get complicated. I’ve been married a long time so I don’t have the dating implications to worry about but I like to hear people’s stories and sometimes that story is how someone with a $40,000 education ended up running a register at a big box store. I don’t judge them for the job they have, I’m fascinated by the road they took to get there.


    1. The sad thing is, the question isn’t asked much anymore simply out of curiosity of what the person is up to for those 40+ hours a week. It’s more to judge the other person to see if they are worth having in the other person’s life. Congrats on being married for a long time! That in itself is a wonderful accomplishment. Be thankful you aren’t in the rat-race/dating world now. Thanks for reading & commenting!


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