January 20

How to Talk About Your Job in English

How to talk about your job in English and with confidence? Let’s find out!


 
Hello, this is Kristian from Cambridge Advanced Speaking. I’m in good spirits today and ready to record this episode for you.

If you didn’t know, I run the website Get Ready For Success, where you can find the audio files, videoclips and lesson notes for all the podcast episodes.

I create and share these learning materials, because I want to help you speak better English and get a high mark in your C1 Speaking Exam.

Today I’m going to take you on a rather quick tour of the key language you need to speak about your job. You can apply this language in part one of the exam as well as in your everyday life.

We’re going to look at 5 questions:

  1. What do you do for a living?
  2. Why do you do that job?
  3. What responsibilities do you have?
  4. What if you don’t have a job?
  5. What do you say when you’re busy?

Are you up for it? Let’s kick off!
 

Introduction

In part 1 of the speaking exam, the interlocutor speaks to you individually. They will ask questions about your work or studies.

If you have a job, tell the examiner you work and talk about your job.

If you are a student or doing part-time study (like preparing for Cambridge C1), you can say so and talk a little about the subject you study.

In this lesson we will look at what to say if you work (outside or inside the home).

 

What Do You Do (For a Living)?

I work in a / an ____ [place]
I work in a bank / a post office / a hospital / a school, etc.

I work in ______ [field/industry/area]
I work in marketing / education / mining

I work as a / an _____ [job/profession]
I work as a consultant / a teacher / engineer

I’m a / an ______ [job/profession]
I’m a consultant / a teacher / engineer

I work as a _____
I’ve been doing this job for _____ years / months and I _____ it.

I work as a consultant
I’ve been doing this job for 5 years and I love it.

I work as a teacher
I’ve been doing this job for around 5 years and it’s not bad.

Other ways of saying you like it just a little:
I kind of like it
It pays the bills/rent
I don’t mind it

Okay, all that stuff is sufficient, but I reckon I’ve got something better for you. My personal favourite is this one:

I work as a _____ and I help people ______
I work as a teacher and I help people learn English and build their confidence in speaking.

This sounds a great deal more interesting, right?

You might be, say, a copywriter. Or you might be someone who helps companies tell compelling stories about their brands. Doesn’t that sound infinitely more interesting? It instantaneously removes stereotypes about your job title and explains the value you bring to the table. So, I highly recommend starting your response with “I help people…”.
 

Why Do You Do That Job?

  • It’s rewarding / challenging
  • I get to __(do something) __
  • What I really like about my job is _____

I get to meet lots of interesting people, and help them become confident English speakers.
 
What I really like about my job is meeting lots of interesting people, and help them become confident English speakers.

Now, you could also say something like “I have to earn a living”, or you can use an idiom, such as “I have to bring home the bacon” or “I’m trying to make ends meet.”

You can use bring home the bacon in different situations, but in this case it means to earn a living.

To make ends meet means that you earn just enough money to live on.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide the way how you want to answer this questions, as long as you use natural, spoken English.
 

What Responsibilities Do You Have?

Let’s imagine you’re a sales manager. You can use phrases like:

I’m responsible for growing our sales
It’s up to me to make sure our sales targets are met.
My main duties are hiring and training my sales-team; setting weekly, monthly, or quarterly goals; I also generate reports tracking our performance.

You can use collocations like:

I set targets
I keep records
I make / give presentations
I make / negotiate deals
I achieve goals.

Now, this is just one example of a sales manager, but I hope you get the idea. If none of these phrases are applicable to your situation, you might want to use a search engine and type the phrase “responsibilities of a (your job)”.
 

Expressions to Say ‘I am Very Busy’

I have a lot on my plate

I am snowed under with work

I am up to my neck / ears in work / deadlines

 

What if You Don’t Have a Job?

Perhaps you are unemployed or even retired.
Here are some useful phrases you can use.

  • I am unemployed (this is a bit negative)
  • I’m between jobs (this is more positive)
  • I’m looking for a job / I’m job hunting/ I am a job seeker
  • I am taking time off work
  • I’m taking a gap year (this is where recently graduated students take time off the travel before finding a job)
  • I’m taking a sabbatical (a rest or break from work, usually one year) I’m on sabbatical at the moment.
  • Actually, I no longer work, I’m retired. I used to…

 

Work at Home Looking After the Home and Family

Last but definitely not least, what if you don’t have a job but work at home? You could use the following sentences:

  • I’m a home maker (a person who manages a home and often raises children instead of earning money from a job.)
  • I’m a stay-at-home dad / mum
  • I’m a househusband / housewife
  • I take care of the housework, look after the kids and what not (= and so on)
  • It’s up to me to do the weekly shopping and prepare the meals.
  • I handle family finances / the cooking / the washing

 

Closing Notes

That’s it! Loads of vocabulary and idioms to help you talk about your job in English and with confidence.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you did, please share it with someone who could benefit from it.

If you have any questions about this lesson, or any feedback, anything you would like me to add or clarify, then do get in touch with me. You can email me at: kristian@getreadyforsuccess.com – I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, go and check out my website, Get Ready For Success. If you’re preparing for Cambridge C1, it’s a great place, full of interesting stuff.

All right, that’s all from me. Take care of yourself, and each other.

Speak soon, my friends.

About the Author

Dutch proficient speaker of English with a Cambridge C2 certificate (grade A) and CELTA qualified. Four years experience as a teacher and ESL exam coach (Cambridge English B2, C1, C2, IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson PTE).

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