Our research shows that service jobs at all levels will be a major source of opportunities in the post-pandemic economy. Many service jobs that require personal interaction cannot be sent to offshore providers while others are difficult to automate.
If you’re in a service industry — therapist, coach, consultant, etc. — one of the easiest ways to answer the “What do you do?” question is to take the focus off you and put it onto your clients. This focuses the conversation on what you do for your clients and what they get from working with you.
In other words, the idea is to speak about:
- The person you serve,
- A problem you solve for them,
- Their story related to the problem, and
- Your solution to the problem.
While the examples below come largely from the world of executive coaching, this strategy should work for many occupations because you are there to solve a customer’s or client’s problem in any service job.
First, start with who you work with. “I work with [target market]” — for example, “women who are looking for better balance between their personal and professional lives.”
Next, articulate the problem that your target client is experiencing — using language that is relevant to the work you do. For example, “who find themselves constantly thinking about their family while they’re at work, and their work while they’re with their family.”
Then, tell them more about the problem and give an example of those you’ve worked with. “Many of these women are feeling pulled in a million different directions because of the pandemic and the challenge of having school-age kids whose schools can close again at a moment’s notice, providing uncertainty in their home and work lives.”
Finally, tell them your solution and what sets you apart. “I’ve helped these women better define their priorities, articulate their boundaries, and develop a game plan to respond to fluid situations in their personal and professional lives. I help them become more resilient in the face of difficult situations so they can be successful at home and at work.”
Another example of the formula in action:
Person: I work with C-level executives in Fortune 100 companies…
Problem: Who are feeling burned out because of the challenges in today’s corporate environment.
Story: Many C-level executives have had to adjust to managing a workforce that is increasingly remote, and they’re struggling with adapting their management style as a result. This has led to a 75% increase in burnout among corporate leaders in the last 12 months.
Solution: I work with these executives to draw on their strengths and successes and shore up their skills, reinvigorating them to deal with the changing corporate environment. More than 90% of the executives I work with report greater engagement with their work. They don’t want to change jobs or change companies — they just want to enjoy the work again. I help them do that.
What if I do not serve clients?
Job seekers sometimes tell me “I don’t serve customers,” or “I don’t want to do customer service.” My response is that we all serve clients or customers even if we do not realize it. Quality management experts talk about internal customers or “next process customers” as well as external customers. For example, if you write copy for your company’s website, your next process customer may be the Web designer that formats the copy, selects images, and adds buttons.
The work you do for internal customers can be essential to your organization’s mission. A client I recently worked with, for example, maintains systems other team members–his internal customers–use to provide air navigation and surveillance data to air traffic control authorities and commercial users. As a result, my client is providing a vital service that his internal customers, in addition to the company’s external customers, rely upon. In fact, we all rely on the data whether we know it or not when we travel.
Marketing yourself as someone who solves a problem for a customer, albeit someone else on your team, may still be the best approach for your elevator speech even if you do not work directly with outside clients.
A service-oriented pitch will benefit you. Service jobs are among the occupations that are expected to experience the most growth for the remainder of the decade, according to the US Department of Labor Examples include jobs such as registered nurses and medical assistants, restaurant workers, housekeepers, and truck drivers. Other jobs that serve internal customers in companies, such as market research analysts and operations managers are also expected to have high growth rates. So, if you feel your job does not involve providing a service now, or you don’t think of yourself as a service provider, either your job, or your perception of the job, could change in the future.