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Three Keys to Success in Investigations

I have had people ask me how can they become a successful investigator?  I sat down the other day and came up with these three key points.  If you really want to succeed as an investigator, you need to continually learn new ideas and methods, but not forget about the basics.  With all of the electronic shortcuts, some investigators forget to actually investigate things, which is a shame.  The following are the three key points I have come up with:

1. One of the most important things I know for anyone to have in their work is a passion to do well in their job.  This passion may be that you just really love what you do.  I for one am one of those people that really love what I am doing right now.  I am a people person, and I am constantly meeting people all the time and I love the interaction.

 I also love studying people and their behavior.  I know of no other job that lets me do this – including being a psychologist.  They almost never get to study people when they are totally unaware that they are being observed.  If you are a people person, loving the investigations business and having a passion for your work can come easy.

2. Another key element to success in investigation, is perseverance.  Now, I know that you will not always be compensated to persevere, so we cannot always check out every single lead to the end.  But you need to have the never-give-up attitude.  When your clients see this attitude in you – you give them the confidence that you will succeed.

This does not mean you will always catch a cheater cheating.  It also does not mean that you will catch the fraudulent insurance or disability claimant.  Sometimes they are not cheating.  Sometimes the claimant is really disabled.  You cannot make them actually cheat or commit fraud.  Also, sometimes they can just avoid being caught for a period more than your client can afford to pay you.

3. Honest self criticism is necessary for you to continually improve as an investigator.  For the inexperienced investigator, I suggest finding an experienced friend who will do this with you.  Do not get offended if they find something you have missed or have done wrong.  Be open to suggestions, even from people who are not “experts” as new ideas should always at least be considered.

What I have done when doing self criticism, is that when I notice I did something wrong, or I missed something, I make a note of it, both in the file, and in a notebook I use for generic notes for myself.  In a recent case, I forgot something as basic as to confirm the identity of someone I was interviewing.  I feel silly for doing it, but I did not even realize I did it until I wrote the report of the investigation.  You can bet that is not going to happen again.  When I make mistakes in an investigation, I do not charge the client to correct the issue, because that one is on me.

If you do these three things on a consistent basis, you will have good investigations that get better as time goes on.  Always study, learn, and especially learn from your mistakes.  Becoming not just a good, but an exemplary investigator is goal I have, and you can attain that goal yourself with a little self discipline.

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