Well, what is “it”?
There are a lot of things that can be taught. Whether you are a bounty hunter, a writing agent or both, anyone can be taught the basics; the ins and outs. As long as you can read and write, you can be taught to fill out paperwork, to answer the phone and ask the right questions. You can be taught to knock on doors and ask about the person that you’re looking for. Handcuffing techniques, firearms retention and house clearing. All of these things can be taught and even mastered by many different people from all walks of life but none of that matters if you don’t have “it”.
In almost 20 years on the job, much of that has been spent as a supervisor or an owner but more importantly as the person that is in charge of hiring new agents. This is probably the most challenging part of what I do. Finding people that are interested in a career in bail bonding is the easy part. Finding someone who has “it” is probably one of the most difficult things that I have to do. This job is a unique job in the respect that it’s fairly easy to get into but it’s not the easiest job to do.
This work takes a special kind of person, not to do the job, but to be good at the job. You can’t be taught to have “it”. The seasoned agents will be able to relate to what I’m talking about and there are, of course, those who are naturally adept to this kind of work. It’s that nagging itch in the back of your neck that tells you that your fugitive is in that house before you even get out of the car. That feeling in your gut that every word your co-signer is saying is a lie, a good one, but a lie none the less. Most good agents that I know are very intuitive people, sometimes to the point of creepy, like “How could he possibly know that about me?” kind of creepy. It’s that intuition, that gut feeling and that eye for detail that makes up the “it” that I’m talking about.
Part of this can be learned and developed over time with a bit of effort but it doesn’t come easy to everyone. As an agent, you have to learn how to read people and read the conversation. You have to learn to see past the lies that the experienced con artists tell you and the promises that every inmate, who is biding for their freedom until court, makes. We often talk to our potential bond several times before we write the bond. You should be able to pick up on the small changes in their story. For example, 30 minutes ago they told you that they work at xyz co. but when you talk to them again it turns out they had only put an application in but were sure they got the job. They tell you their living situation but it turns out they are counting on having a place to live when they get out but the person that they claim to live with doesn’t know it yet. A good agent can see thru most of the bs but they still get over on you from time to time; it’s just part of the job. While you’re out bounty hunting, you have be able to pick up on the subtle changes from the last time you were at a house, like there was a light turned off that was on a hour ago and the car in the driveway was 3 feet closer to the house even though no one came to the door when you knocked. Why didn’t they open the door? What or who are they hiding? My favorite one is the super helpful and talkative person today turned into a paranoid door cracker or won’t open the door at all tomorrow. On almost every occasion of that, the person that I was looking for was on the other side of the door.
These are the things that can’t really be taught. Like I said earlier, some people are naturals at the things that make a good agent, but most of us have to work at it and develop skills. Most of us have to make some pretty bad mistakes and learn from them. No one can teach you experience and some people just don’t have “it”.
Even if you don’t have “it” that doesn’t mean you don’t belong in the business, it just means you have room to learn and improve. As long as you are willing to learn, you’re able to grow. As soon as you know it all, it’s time to get out.
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