Making Small Talk on Big Subjects: The Finisher’s Dilemma

Scenario: I’m in a situation that calls for small talk with a stranger (i.e., getting a haircut, sitting in an Uber, or meeting someone for the first time).

They ask me what I do for a living.

I pause to weigh my options.

Option 1: tell them I’m a coater and leave it at that, knowing that they’ll likely assume I paint houses. Most people follow this up by telling me about their bathroom remodel and/or the colors they picked for their living room walls.

This option is ideal for short, superficial conversations that don’t result in the other person actually learning anything about me. Nothing wrong with that in most cases.

Option 2: explain that corrosion is an inevitable force that will eventually consume all of the world’s metal (at varying speeds based on environmental factors, of course), and that it can only be stopped through the application of a conversion coat, followed by an industrial coating the likes of which cannot be found at The Home Depot and must be applied with a gun rather than a brush or a roller.

While I tend to prefer option 2, it’s not without its drawbacks. I get too technical, too fast. Most people’s eyes glaze over at the first sign of industry jargon, and by the end of my speech, they’re not any closer to understanding what I do than if I’d exercised option 1.

This isn’t really a social problem. I don’t need people to know or understand what I do for a living.

But it IS a symptom of a larger issue that affects all blasters and coaters – namely, that most people don’t know the first thing about the finishing industry.

How are we going to serve them if they don’t seek our help? And how are we going to hire them if they don’t know we exist?

I’m certain that this issue is not unique to the finishing industry, so I’m crowdsourcing help. If you occupy a niche career that no one understands, or if you study something so specific it can’t be explained to a layman, help me out: how do you craft an elevator pitch that’s informational, relatable, and attractive to potential new hires?



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