I’ve been telling my son for years that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ Yes, thumbs in my ears, fingers wiggling and tongue stuck out. And yet, for the past 25 years, I have been searching for the best way to answer the question ‘Where do you work.’ I love my job and wouldn’t have been doing it for 25 years if I didn’t, but let me tell you, it’s a real conversation stopper when I tell people I work for a collection agency.
The person I’m speaking to always feels it necessary to say ‘Ooh, I hope my name isn’t in your files!’ or ‘I don’t think I could do a job like that where you’re always yelling at people!’ I always feel I have to qualify it by saying ‘Well, I don’t do the actual collecting’ and ‘We don’t yell at people’.
I tried telling people I worked for an Accounts Receivable Management Company or in the Financial Services Industry. That just led to blank stares and glazed eyes. Then I just started answering with my title. ‘I’m in Sales Support’ or ‘I’m in Marketing’. That’s certainly easier, but I’d love to hear how other people overcome this dilemma – or if they even consider it a dilemma.
Here’s what a colleague had to say: “Every time I am asked what I do for work, I get frustrated. Even if I take great pains to say what my job entails, as soon as I utter the words: “at a collection agency” – that’s all the other person hears. Queue stereotypes and pre-judging!”
InsideARM is poking fun at the stereotype with their new mouse pad: What I Really Do Mousepad, which is being marketed to collectors.
Another colleague put it this way. The Forgotten Patriot; A Debt Collector’s Perspective.
According to an Ernst and Young report commissioned by ACA International:
- In 2010, agencies recovered nearly $54.9 billion in total debt
- U.S. collection agencies directly employ approximately 148,300 people
- Third-party debt collection agencies made a total of $85 million in charitable contributions in 2011
- Industry employees spent approximately 652,000 hours at company-sponsored volunteer activities
What’s not to be proud of? Besides that, I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you?