Work and Jobs

Jobs occupations


Are you a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker?  Or, maybe you’re a CSI agent, a member of the FBI or perhaps a modern-day pirate?

When you first meet people the most common question asked is: What do you do? Or the same question asked in a different way: What is your job?

So, I ask: What do you do? 

doctorAre you an architect, a researcher, a teacher, a civil servant, a gym instructor, a fireman, a marine biologist, a secretary, a shop assistant, a financial analyst, a baker, a jewelry maker, a nurse, a professional gambler, a professional darts player, a psychologist, a lion tamer, a busker, a singer, a producer, a director, a stuntman….?

Do you want to learn some vocabulary connected to common jobs? If so, watch and listen to this YouTube Video Click here

My second question is: So, what does that mean? What are you responsible for? On a day to day basis what do you actually do?

Can you explain what you do?   If the answer is no, it’s time to think about it.

My financial analyst friend explained to me that his job involved pressing a lot of numbfinancial analysters on a big calculator, sharpening pencils and saying ‘NO’ a lot. Obviously he was just ‘pulling my leg’, but I thought to myself, now I understand why I’m always broke’!!

My sister is a mechanical engineer; however she couldn’t stand explaining what she actually did at work so she used to tell people that she was a part time professional dog walker or an astronaut for NASA.

Another friend of mine said this about his job: My job is very creative.  I am often away on tour which is fantastic, although it is very tiring and it can be very difficult to keep in touch with friends.  My job isn’t well paid and it’s very competitive. However, I don’t mind because I’m earning a living doing something I love.  Do you know what his job is?


Vocabulary, vocabulary; it’s vocabulary jobssooooooooooooooooooooooo frustrating; there are so many words, so many expressions, so many collocations.  How am I supposed to remember them all?

The answer is in small steps.

First, learn to talk about yourself, and then learn the relevant vocabulary for friends and family, and then advance to vocabulary about things that interest you.


All these words are about Jobs and Work, but do you know what they mean? Can you write sentences using them?

If you are not sure about a word or phrase, why not ask the Inglés Málaga community to help you? Use the comments box to write your question.

Useful Verb Phrases about Work and Jobs

To look for a job

To quit or To resign

To apply for a job

To be fired or To be sacked

To have an interview

To be promoted

To work part time

To be on sick leave

To do shift work

To be on strike

To work flexi-time

To be unemployed

To be made redundant

To be retired

VOCABULARY ACTIVITY TWO: Useful Phrases about Jobs, Skills and Personality Characteristics

Can you explain what skills you need to do your job?  

For example:

  • 1.       Do you need to be calm under pressure?
  • 2.       Do you need to be friendly?
  • 3.       Do you need to be good with figures?
  • 4.       Do you need to be a ball breaker?

Personality Characteristics for Different Jobs

To be adaptable

To remain calm under pressure

To be friendly

To be efficient

To be helpful

To be ambitious

To be flexible

To be determined

To be a good listener

To be diplomatic

To be good at solving problems

To be goal driven

To be able to work in a team

To think on your feet

To be good with figures

To be able to meet deadlines

To have a good eye for detail

To manage people

To lead a team

To manage risks



Can you guess what these 3 people do from what they say about their jobs?

Job descriptions

Do you need to improve your job related vocabulary? Click here


READING ACTIVITY ONE: Janette O’Carroll: Career History

picking watermelonsI have had over 25 jobs, including 4 part time jobs when I was a teenager and 3 part time jobs when I was a student. I have worked in England, The U.S.A., Israel, Japan and Australia and I have done voluntary work in Sri Lanka, Guatemala and Nepal. I have worked with people, animals, machines and vegetables.

I have applied for 100s of jobs, I have been made redundant twice, I have quit jobs and in Australia I was sacked for being the worst waitress my boss had ever experienced.  I deserved it; I was really, really, REALLY rubbish!!

In my last job I was promoted twice; I employed staff, line-managed employees, worked in partnership with other organizations and unfortunately had to fire someone. I travelled a lot for business and was lucky to work with people from all over England, Germany, Finland and Belgium. I had to do a lot of public speaking, give presentations and write lots and lots and lots of formal reports.

 READING ACTIVITY TWO: Preparing for a Job Interview

The Interview Panel
The Interview Panel

Are you preparing for an interview in English?

Do you need some ideas for typical interview questions? No problem, for some sample questions: Click here and look under the SPEAKING section

What happens at an interview? Listen to an interview at BBC Learning English. Click here


Job AdvertThere are lots of different ways to find job opportunities; for instance, the Internet has 100s of recruitment agencies that will help you locate jobs that suit your professional and personal needs.   In addition, newspapers and magazines always have a job section.  However, it is said that only 20% of job opportunities are advertized.  In light of this, how do you find out about the other 80%?  The answer is networking, keeping your eye on the market and proactively contacting people, companies and organizations.  However, if you want to be your own boss, why not ask your local council for some advice on how to set up a company, or work freelance?

Are you writing a CV?

Do you need to practise writing a CV in English? No problem, Click here and look under the WRITING section


Danger MouseLISTENING ACTIVITY ONE:  Try a Different Job

If you could experience another job what would you try? There are loads of jobs I would like to try, for example: an international spy, a ventriloquist, a marine biologist or a chewing gum tester.  However, if I had to choose one job, I would like to be Danger Mouse.  He was totally ‘Top-Tastic’!!

OMG, you don’t know who Danger Mouse is. Click here

  • On second thoughts, perhaps I would be Hong Kong Phooey.  Click here
  • Or maybe a professional hypnotist: Listen to a short interview about the best British Hypnotist: Click here
  • Or a professional footballer. I reckon that would be ‘cool’: Listen to a short interview about this job. Click here

LISTENING ACTIVITY TWO:  Preparing for an Interview?

businessenglishpodListen to advice provided by BusinessEnglishpod. Click here


you're firedFancy seeing  someone get fired? Have a look at the BBC TV Programme ‘The Apprentice’. The British entrepreneur Alan Sugar, who has an estimated fortune of £770 million, points his finger and says ‘You’re fired!’. He’s the ‘Big Cheese’ and he’s ‘scary as hell’! Click here


where do you see yourself in 5 years timeAre you preparing for an interview in English? Not really sure  how to answer common interview questions?  Well check out these videos to pick up some tips and ideas:

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
  2. What are your strengths?
  3. Why do you want to work here?
  4. Why should we hire you?

In addition, you can practice your listening skills, learn some new vocabulary and understand the typical questions asked at an interview.


SPEAKING ACTIVITY ONE:  Expressing Opinions and Reasons

Jobs for Students Here are some pictures of different jobs on a cruise ship.

First, talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these types of jobs.

Then decide which job you think is the hardest

 SPEAKING ACTIVITY TWO:  Expressing Opinions and Reasons

Imagine youjobs cruise ship are a careers adviser and you are talking to a group of students about getting work during their free time.

First, talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these jobs.

Then decide which two jobs would be the best for students



Give a 3 minute presentation describing what the most important things are for you in a job. Factors important in a job

Use this list of ideas to help you.

You might want to consider:

  • Which 3 things are the most important for you and why?
  • Whether your thoughts have changed from when you were younger?
  • Whether you think they will change when you are older?

SPEAKING ACTIVITY FOUR: Describing Photographs

Jobs Inside OutsideThese photos show different people at work.  I’d like you to compare the photographs and say which job would be the most interesting.


SPEAKING ACTIVITY FIVE:  Role Play: Chatting with a friend about a job offer

Role One: You have been offered a job in another country. You are in two minds about whether to accept the job and you want to talk about it with a friend. Talk to your friend about the possible advantages and disadvantages of the job.  On balance, you think working abroad is the best option for you.

Role Two: Your friend has just been offered a job in another country. Find out about the advantages and disadvantages of the job.  On balance, you think your friend should not accept the job.


big brotherWRITING ACTIVITY ONE: Wanted Big Brother Contestants

The TV broadcaster, Channel 5, is looking for new contestants for the next season of the reality TV show: BIG BROTHER

To apply to become a contestant write a postcard to Channel 4 explaining why you should be on Big Brother. All responses must be less than 100 words.


fitness trainer jobDo you need to write a letter of application?  No problem, click here for a sample letter in the Writing section.

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