How do you explain your job?

Hey guys -

As you all well know. Saying your in Real Estate can be annoying. Im very proud of being in the industry and future potential and all that. But when you say RE or CRE they just think I sell houses or when I explain I'm in Capital markets and do debt & equity the conversation either gets very convoluted or they think I work at a regional bank doing loans on houses.

Whether it's Capital Markets/ Originations or something else how do you go about explaining what you do? I've found that saying too little makes people think I work at a local brokerage and saying too much makes them think I'm an investment banker.

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Comments (61)

  • Intern in S&T - FI
Sep 28, 2021 - 2:32pm

Depends on who your audience is (obvious). If you're speaking to someone who is financially literate you can probably explain a bit more in depth what you do. If its someone that doesn't know as much then just a sentence or two is probably fine. 

Also need to remember a lot of people may not even care or remember anyway. 

Sep 28, 2021 - 3:02pm

If it is people who understand the general scope of finance you can go into more detail.

If it is people who don't understand the first thing of finance you can tell them you are in commercial real estate investment and leave it at that.  They won't understand any of the details anyway, nor do they really care.

Most Helpful
Sep 28, 2021 - 3:29pm

Somebody did a post like this awhile back, but vented hard on the being assumed to be a Realtor thing..... should try and find it, the responses were golden! 

Anyway, you have a few options (and I'd guess you can cycle these based on who asked and how much you want to impress, inform, or just blow them off)....

1. "I'm in Real Estate"... this is the best blow off question, as they don't want you to start asking if they want to buy or sell a house. Downside, some schmuck who wants to ask you "how's the market" or "can you tell me what my home is worth"... then you can unload some crazy technical answer, that should solve the problem.

2. "I'm in Commercial Real Estate"... this is the more impressive blow off question, they have little idea what you are doing, and the chance of follow up is low. Downside, they think you lease storefronts next to closed retail anchors... but hey, better than the home price questions. 

3. "I'm in Real Estate Capital Markets"... honestly just say "Real Estate Investment Banking"... I mean go big or go home. Downside, someone actually knows better and laughs when you say "Cushman & Wakefield" instead of "Goldman Sachs". 

4. "I arrange debt and equity for XYZ sized developments and acquisitions for leading investors and developers in real estate"... i.e, this is the elevator pitch answer, and isn't just a blow off, it's a FUCK YOU unless the recipient is in the industry, then it's just salesy. Downside, the role eyes and say "I'm sorry I asked" and you feel bad. 

5. "I am an Analyst for Cushman & Wakefield Capital Markets" (correct as needed lol) this is just a straight up factual answer, and totally devoid of useful information unless the person is in the industry (in which case, this is the best answer). Downside, you can easily get a follow up "what does that mean?" and then you have to go back up to the elevator pitch one, but they asked so you can earn a gold star of politeness as they respond "I'm sorry I asked"....

My advice, try them all out, see what you like. I am way beyond giving a fuck about what people think, so I just say "I work in real estate development"... which is meaningless about what I do on a day to day basis or what our firm does. If someone cares, I'll engage, but easier to just get to the blow off point so can talk about something of actual mutual interest.

Final piece of advice, if you are single, and speaking with someone for potential romantic interest.. add the line "and I make a lot of money" (doesn't matter if you just got a job with an all in of $80k, just go with it)... then you can judge their reaction, if they roll eyes and turn away they are a keeper (meaning, just say "just kidding" and act normal") if they light up and start engaging even more... RUN don't WALK unless you like that stuff (note this final point is valid for men and women regardless of whom you are seeking, it's an equal opportunity world!)

tl;dr - just have fun and say what ever, it really does not matter!

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Sep 28, 2021 - 4:56pm

redever

Somebody did a post like this awhile back, but vented hard on the being assumed to be a Realtor thing..... should try and find it, the responses were golden! 

Anyway, you have a few options (and I'd guess you can cycle these based on who asked and how much you want to impress, inform, or just blow them off)....

1. "I'm in Real Estate"... this is the best blow off question, as they don't want you to start asking if they want to buy or sell a house. Downside, some schmuck who wants to ask you "how's the market" or "can you tell me what my home is worth"... then you can unload some crazy technical answer, that should solve the problem.

2. "I'm in Commercial Real Estate"... this is the more impressive blow off question, they have little idea what you are doing, and the chance of follow up is low. Downside, they think you lease storefronts next to closed retail anchors... but hey, better than the home price questions. 

3. "I'm in Real Estate Capital Markets"... honestly just say "Real Estate Investment Banking"... I mean go big or go home. Downside, someone actually knows better and laughs when you say "Cushman & Wakefield" instead of "Goldman Sachs". 

4. "I arrange debt and equity for XYZ sized developments and acquisitions for leading investors and developers in real estate"... i.e, this is the elevator pitch answer, and isn't just a blow off, it's a FUCK YOU unless the recipient is in the industry, then it's just salesy. Downside, the role eyes and say "I'm sorry I asked" and you feel bad. 

5. "I am an Analyst for Cushman & Wakefield Capital Markets" (correct as needed lol) this is just a straight up factual answer, and totally devoid of useful information unless the person is in the industry (in which case, this is the best answer). Downside, you can easily get a follow up "what does that mean?" and then you have to go back up to the elevator pitch one, but they asked so you can earn a gold star of politeness as they respond "I'm sorry I asked"....

My advice, try them all out, see what you like. I am way beyond giving a fuck about what people think, so I just say "I work in real estate development"... which is meaningless about what I do on a day to day basis or what our firm does. If someone cares, I'll engage, but easier to just get to the blow off point so can talk about something of actual mutual interest.

Final piece of advice, if you are single, and speaking with someone for potential romantic interest.. add the line "and I make a lot of money" (doesn't matter if you just got a job with an all in of $80k, just go with it)... then you can judge their reaction, if they roll eyes and turn away they are a keeper (meaning, just say "just kidding" and act normal") if they light up and start engaging even more... RUN don't WALK unless you like that stuff (note this final point is valid for men and women regardless of whom you are seeking, it's an equal opportunity world!)

tl;dr - just have fun and say what ever, it really does not matter!

This is solid and the Goldman Sachs point made me crack up lol

Sep 28, 2021 - 3:32pm

Development is easy, everyone understands that. Can always tell them what type of buildings you build.

If it's something else, just focus on the duties more than the role (i.e. acquisitions -> I buy commercial real estate properties as investments).

Sep 28, 2021 - 4:55pm

FishOil099

Who gives a shit if someone thinks your a realtor? People in CRE seem to be offended when something think they buy and sell homes, like the job is below them or something. 

That's not the point. The point is it's not what we do. The same thing as if someone thought an investment banker was a local small business and personal loan lender. Or a car detailer was a car salesman. You can argue one is better than the other and vice versa but there's a difference between a random job and your job.

At the end of the day people know what the examples I mentioned are and relatively know the difference. CRE has a lack of education to the general public. I think it can be fruitful to be able to explain what you do vs people thing I do something totally different.

Sep 29, 2021 - 8:07am

Cre_mogul

FishOil099

Who gives a shit if someone thinks your a realtor? People in CRE seem to be offended when something think they buy and sell homes, like the job is below them or something. 

That's not the point. The point is it's not what we do. The same thing as if someone thought an investment banker was a local small business and personal loan lender. Or a car detailer was a car salesman. You can argue one is better than the other and vice versa but there's a difference between a random job and your job.

At the end of the day people know what the examples I mentioned are and relatively know the difference. CRE has a lack of education to the general public. I think it can be fruitful to be able to explain what you do vs people thing I do something totally different.

But why does it matter so much? Is your self worth / perceived self worth so tied up in your job title and the type of numbers you put into your excel spreadsheet?

Do you want the general public to be more educated so that you can stroke your ego when you mention you work in real estate and their first reaction is oh wow, you're so successful! 

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:56pm

slapacaponit

Know some realtors in AZ/TX/FL/CA/GA/NC making a hell of a lot more than probably most of us monkeys this year doing 1/4 of the work...

I don't doubt it

Sep 29, 2021 - 12:20am

Comes with practice. I learned how to distill my function to a range of people.

With people I casually meet in a quick conversation, I usually make it very basic with regular words: e.g. sell/buy or create mortgages for large buildings in XYZ major cities. If they don't get it or think I sell homes, I don't care. I enjoy my job and life, which is all that matters, so who cares what they think.

With people I actually have to explain it to, I warn them it will be a painful explanation for them.

Sep 29, 2021 - 3:03am

Research Analyst in LO AM and simply just say I "work in Finance". sometimes I may say "I'm an investor" but this is more on the rare side. When I was interning in the ABS team I use to say I was a "I invest in mortgages" and I felt like this got a few amazed looks hahaa

Sep 29, 2021 - 5:45am

Investment Manager at a Developer/Investor here and this basically sums up my interactions;

My grandparents think I sell houses.

My parents think I'm some sort of accountant who plays around on excel all day (they are not too far wrong in fairness to them).

My girlfriend thinks I'm sort of office admin putting documents and presentations together.

My friends think I work for a construction company and probably think of me as some sort of foreman or something.

Truth is, if they don't work in the industry I couldn't give a toss what they think I do! I just go along with it until they mistake me for an economist..."No Tom, I can't tell you when the next crash is coming".

Sep 29, 2021 - 12:15pm

I'm in a similar role and often get the same interpretations too when I try to explain to people what I do. I laugh it off, just cause I know it can be really complicated specifically what I work on and what purpose my role serves.

Array
Sep 29, 2021 - 4:53pm

My friends think I work for a construction company and probably think of me as some sort of foreman or something.

Reminds me when I used to work for a GC I would tell people I'm in construction. Some thought it meant I was like a carpenter or laying brick. If I said I worked for a GC they would assume I meant like a SFH contractor and ask me about how to build a porch. The only way people actually understood what I did is by saying I build office buildings. 

Sep 30, 2021 - 4:09am

jarstar1

My friends think I work for a construction company and probably think of me as some sort of foreman or something.

ask me about how to build a porch.

Haha same same. I could rant on about labour prices or rising timber costs and all the other economic activity behind it..."How to build the thing? - Haven't got a clue mate sorry"

Sep 29, 2021 - 9:57am

Buy low

Sell high

Something something about risk

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

  • 2
Sep 29, 2021 - 2:42pm

"I build apartments." 

"Oh so you're a contractor?" 

"No." 

*awkward silence* 

Commercial Real Estate Developer

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Sep 30, 2021 - 12:12am

Analyst at a debt brokerage. Usually on first dates I just say "I find money from rich people to give it to other rich people to buy more houses". It gets a laugh and moves the conversation forward. Nobody likes talking about work all the time. 

  • VP in RE - Comm
Sep 30, 2021 - 9:03am

I've been saying - I work for an investment company. That solved these annoying situations for me over all these years.

You either will be left with 2 scenarios:

1. Those who don't give a shit about you (most people), will leave you alone and assume you're some finance person (true)

2. Those who give a shit about you will inquire further, then you can open up the conversation (I work in CRE Development, PE, CRE Brokerage) what have you. You'll typically head down the path of talking with smart, inquisitive people who don't associate you to their fucking house if they're more curious about what you do. 

I find this route to work for all crowds. Randos at my club on the weekend, girls on dates, girls at bars, homeless men on the street....It weeds out the idiots and save you time. 

Sep 30, 2021 - 6:20pm

I actually like explaining what my job´s about I currently work as a Business Developer and Project Manager/Analyst for a small RE consulting firm called Landesa in Monterrey, Mexico but I´m originally from Ciudad Victoria 300km to the south which´s a smaller city (imagine Odessa, TX but without oil and high school football and being the state capital for better and worse)  and RE industry there is mostly focused to single-family residential (A/B+ segment being gated communities), industrial being a few maquiladoras in town; commercial it´s 60% local businesses and 40% national or international companies, and office being 99% the state and local governments (worst tenants possible) and every time I visit my hometown it takes ages to explain to many friends & family (even to some who work in the construction industry) what my job´s about

Now I´m also starting in an Institutional Sales job with Vector Casa de Bolsa a major national investment firm (after I lost what could be my only chance in JLL) and those who know what´s this about its not only sales but also its part investor relations and it´s being a headache explaining that to my friends who stayed or returned there what this job is also about 

Sep 30, 2021 - 7:57pm

My younger kids think I still drive the bucket truck

My wife knows that I do something with power plants

My friends have no idea

Namaste.

D.O.U.G.

  • Investment Analyst in RE - Comm
Oct 2, 2021 - 5:05pm

I work for a somewhat recognizable name in NYC (in the papers quite a bit), so I usually just keep it simple and say "I work in the real estate group of _____." Too lazy to give more details about what I do until they ask more, and based off the firm name (e.g. Related) they know I'm not a realtor.

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Oct 8, 2021 - 2:59pm

Here's how every convo goes for me: I say financial analyst at a commercial real estate company. Then my husband says he's a financial planner. Then the other person says "maybe you should work with him!" implying that I am an accountant. I politely roll my eyes and mention that our jobs are very different. Every. Single. Time.

Oct 14, 2021 - 2:30pm

I just tell people I play monopoly for a living. Buy land or buildings, spend money to make them better, then either charge people for staying there or sell them. Plus, the types of deals we do, the amount of money might as well be made up anyway it has so many 0's at the end of it. 

Oct 14, 2021 - 3:34pm

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Array
  • VP in RE - Comm
Oct 14, 2021 - 4:38pm

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