Everyone starts out at the same level when they change, or start a new career or endeavor. Some fields, however tend to have their own hazing ritiuals, or learning periods, however. This is especially true in the world of adjusters.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a adjusting firm owner state that they are tired of everyone calling and sending in their resume’s shortly after being licensed and saying “I’m ready to start”. While is does come of extremely condescending from the owners and experienced adjusters, there is some validity to their argument.
I think it is more accurate to say “I am ready to start learning. How do I do that?”, but that isn’t exactly the way you want to sell yourself when starting out in your new career. So, as a result of the confidence that rookie adjusters want to promote, it usually comes out all wrong.
Of course, this isn’t to say that someone can’t start right away and be a rock star. It is just very unusual.
When a new adjuster takes the right steps and develops a good plan that combines time, patience and a mountain load of hard work, the outcome can be a great career and lifestyle that is hard to beat. The opposite, however is also true. The shotgun effect won’t work as well as we hope in this industry when we are first starting out.
No Industry Specific Experience
It’s hard to jump ship. It’s even harder to switch industries, jobs or careers. Especially when you have family obligations.
Kids need to eat, mortgage needs to be paid. There’s about a million more things that have to be taken into consideration, but we won’t go into those here 🙂
When a newly licensed adjuster starts to apply for work, there are always 2-3 questions that come up right off the bat. The number one question is “How long have you been adjusting?”.
Well, the answer is obvious when you are starting out. Of course, you are pretty sure the person you are talking to didn’t read your resume although they just said they did. So, what do you do?
Adjusting experience comes in all shapes and sizes. Traditional, non traditional, and trade related.
Traditional adjusting experience would be in the form of shadowing an adjuster, writing up estimates, measuring buildings with an adjuster or simply learning to write the dreaded reports that are required with every estimate. This would be direct industry related experience adjusting. The firms you talk to will still dismiss it, but they cannot deny it. Alot of the time you can include a sample of your work. Include an estimate, sketch and report you helped write up.
Non traditional experience comes in different forms. A good example is if you worked in a position responsible for scheduling appointments, interacting with clients, and ultimately deciding what work is necessary or covered and reporting that to some sort of company that provides some level of coverage for the affected items. Think home warranty work. This is non traditional adjusting. It will count “less”, but it still counts. The process is basically the same as what an insurance adjuster does every day.
Trade related experience is where most of us get our start. It’s easy to look at 25 years of construction and building experience on a resume and ask what you have done for the last 10 years. Again, you’ll have to realize the people you talk to are reading many resume’s and may not “understand” what you have put on your resume, or how it may apply. Working in a body shop is great experience for auto work. Restoration and roofing work also applies. These are all great places to get hands on experience.
Not Enough Time
Every industry has it’s own set of rules regarding the amount of time before you are considered a “seasoned” profeessional. In construction related industries it is usually 2-4 years, in college years it is a bachelor’s degree.
In adjusting, the amount of time that seems to be the “norm” before you are “seasoned” is 2 years.
Somewhere around the 2 year mark firms have a different point of view regarding your experience. They are more willing to hire and work with you.
Not having enough time in the trenches can be difficult to over come when it comes to getting work as an adjuster. Some firms will overlook this in an effort to lock down a new territory for their clients. This means they will have to invest a significant amount of time into training you on everything from estimating to reports.
It can pay off, though if you commit to a firm that is willing to take a chance on you and remember it is a two way street. Their commitment deserves loyalty. Although it may seem a little “old school”, you should remember the people that own these firms usually have many years in the field before they started their firm.
Right now, firm owners used to take photos with polaroid cameras, and hand write their estimates before mailing them in to the insurance company. Today, everything is electronic. Gone are the days of using adding machines and polaroid cameras.
Keep in mind when looking for a new firm to work with, while they may take a chance on you before you hit your 2 year mark, the magic number in this industry is 2. At 2 years, with a good reputation for delivering a good work product you can pretty much write your own ticket and will always have work.
No Out Of State Licenses
Many firms and other adjusters will recommend buying as many licenses as you can afford when starting out.
There is a good reason for this. Eventually you will understand that it is going to be unlikely that you will have work in your neighborhood year in and year out. Even having work in the state that you live in can be hard to find some years.
When you invest in more than one state license it says a few things to firms that you will apply to.
Having more than one state license definitely shows the gate keepers you are serious about what you do. They don’t want someone who is not sure about moving into adjusting. They want to see your commitment up front and having a couple of licenses in states where you want to work says that you aren’t afraid to mix things up if you need to go out there and get work for yourself.
Territories are also established quickly if a firm you want to work for knows where you have licenses. Many companies search their database for license holders in the affected areas first, and then they drill down to the qualifications after they have a list of potential adjusters for the state they are seeking to adjust claims in.