"Can you tell me how to go about getting a job in the fishing business?
That's a question I've been asked a few dozen times in the past five years. It's usually followed by, "I've been bass fishing all my life and I know Company X's products better than the people who work there."
As many times as I've been asked this question, you'd think I'd have come up with a standard answer I could trot out.
In reality, however, there is no simple answer.
People tend to think that just because they enjoy bass fishing, they are a shoe-in for a job at a fishing company.
Not so fast.
First, there's the issue of connections, which, like any industry, play a huge role in who gets the job and who doesn't. If someone knows you and can speak highly of you, it makes sense that you have a leg up. So attending consumer shows, getting to know people and then cultivating those contacts is a good first step.
From there, try to find a contact at the company you'd like to work for, then shoot them an e-mail and ask if you can send a résumé. If you're lucky enough to get them on the phone, deliver your best two-minute sales pitch, explaining why you'd be a good fit for the company — maybe even volunteer to work their booth at a local show.
After that, you can send the contact an e-mail every now and again to say hello and stay top of mind. Be forewarned, however, that you must not become a pest, calling or e-mailing often, and don't make it a habit of asking for product or services if you haven't offered up something in return.
Usually, when I press people about why they want to work in this industry, the answer never varies much: "Well, I love to fish. I figure if I work in the industry, I'll get to fish more often since it's part of my job."
Well, let me tell you, many of these people would be sore to learn that most of us in this industry have less time to fish than people who do not work in the industry — a lot less.
An old saw goes, "I never realized that by getting into the fishing business I'd have less time to fish." It's more true than funny.
That's why it's imperative for people to be around the industry for a while, especially at shows and such, before they determine whether or not this is the industry for them.