It’s the dreaded question many of us have to answer at a family gathering or reunion: “So, what do you do?”
A recent survey from LinkedIn turned the tables a bit, instead asking parents whether they could define various job titles ranging from investment banker to lab technician. A vast majority of respondents listed user interface (UI) designer as the most misunderstood job: 91 per cent of parents could only shrug and default to ‘is it a computer thing?’. The complete list is:
- UI designer (91%)
- Data scientist (80%)
- Sub editor (75%)
- Social media manager (75%)
- Actuary (72%)
- Sociologist (70%)
- Radio producer (65%)
- Fashion designer (63%)
- PR manager (61%)
- Investment banker (58%)
Some entries on the list show interesting side effects of the quaternary economy. Others, as Head of Communications for LinkedIn Australia and New Zealand Shiva Kumar points out, illustrate the gap between what people are doing and what their parents think they do.
“If you look at the top most misunderstood jobs, most didn’t exist five years ago,” Kumar says. “Many of these are definitely new-age jobs. Industries are evolving at such a rapid rate, so a parent might know what a graphic designer does, but not what a UI designer does.” (For those who are still confused, UI designers create the signs and maps of a digital platform, while user experience (UX) designers figure out how people like to get from Point A to Point B.)
To bridge the gap, LinkedIn began a Bring Your Parents to Work Day event back in 2013. Every year since, parents or loved ones of workers are invited to shadow them for the day and participate in activities designed to help them understand what their child really does. This year, businesses in 17 countries participated.
How can children make things a little easier for their folks? A job title is a job title, so Kumar suggests emphasising how what you do affects the company – in order to put it in context. He uses his own experiences in communications as an example: “I can tell my parents I work in PR, but they might not know what that means. Instead, I tell them I’m responsible for sharing my company’s brand and story,” he says.
As always, open lines of communication are key to both parties connecting over work. Although the job descriptions might change from decade to decade, or even year to year, all still deal with people.
“Parents are an untapped support network, and they are very influential in every part of our life,” Kumar says. “They’ve been there, done that – communication and collaboration are still an important element of any job.”