Researching Occupations by Talking to People
by Tom Washington

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of researching an occupation before you pursue it. One of my clients, Jill, had recently graduated from law school and had started her own practice, only to discover that she did not like being a lawyer.

Two years earlier, she and her husband had acted as general contractors while building their own home. That experience plus others, told her that she really liked the construction and real estate fields. After much reading and thought, she concluded that she would like to work in a title insurance company or as a right-of-way agent, purchasing land and easements for utility companies or local and state governments.

Jill’s first contact was with a right-of-way agent for a nearby city. He was very enthusiastic about his work and gave her a lot of information and encouragement, and the names of several organizations. Next, she spoke to the manager of a title insurance company who described what she did and the different ways one might attain such a position. She was also very enthusiastic and encouraging. She not only provided the names of all the local title insurance companies, but also information about them and the name of a key person to contact in each company.

By using the manager’s name as a reference, Jill was successful in getting in to see the person in each company with the power to hire her. She found the entire process surprisingly easy and very enjoyable.

It’s important to note that once Jill had decided to pursue those two fields, she no longer asked for appointments on the pretext of getting information. Instead, she began requesting 15 minutes with a hiring manager to learn about current or future openings. She also took the opportunity to sell herself so that perhaps a job would be created for her or she would be notified when a position opened up.

Jill soon got a job as a right of way agent which also utilized her experience in law.

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