Office Hours: Find Your Place In Insurance With Career Connections

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On November 27th, TalentEgg hosted Office Hours with Career Connections, a career awareness and insurance education program.

Career Connections is a division of the Insurance Institute: the premier source of professional education and career development for Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry.

Office Hours is an hour-long live chat with representatives from top employers for TalentEgg members.

Program Manager Trevor Buttrum from Career Connections was on hand to answer your questions about careers in the insurance industry and how to find your place in insurance.

If you missed the live event, you can read the complete transcript below.

TalentEgg Elias: Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Elias and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Our eggs-pert guest today is Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections Program Manager! Career Connections is an insurance education program that is a division of the Insurance Institute.

Over the next hour, you can ask Trevor your questions about career opportunities in the insurance industry, learn about different insurance roles and get tips for successfully hatching your insurance career. You can start submitting your questions now.

Trevor, could you please tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do at Career Connections?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Hi there – my name is Trevor. I work with the Career Connections program which helps to promote the wide variety of careers in the insurance industry to students and career seekers. We really enjoy our work on campus and are on about 70+ of them each year. I am thrilled you are here today and am egg-cited to chat with you and do my best to answer all of your questions!!

TalentEgg Elias: Great! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted by a student in advance:

Kate, a Sociology student, asks: “Your website says that a lot of different backgrounds (including non-tech ones) can find jobs in insurance. Could you explain that more, please?”

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Absolutely! People often think that they require a highly specialized background to find their place in insurance.

The reality is, as insurance is all around us (it touches virtually everything we do in life and in business), the industry requires people from a wide array of educational and experience backgrounds.

For example, with a Sociology degree you may be interested in a career as an Underwriter, Loss Adjuster or even Broker. On our website (http://www.career-connections.info) we have a section tab called ‘Your Education.’ There you will find a chart that outlines how different degrees may relate to different areas of the industry.

Hugh: Is insurance a good career path for a young person?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Insurance can be a great career for a young person – in fact, 27% of those working in the industry are under the age of 32. There are even professional associations specifically for young people, like the Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto. Insurance offers challenge, reward, stability, variety and the chance to evolve your career exactly where you want it to take you.

Sam: Do you have any advice for someone coming from a Fine Arts (music, in my case) background who is looking to transition, potentially into insurance? I am very interested in the risk-management aspect of the insurance industry, yet I lack formal business education aside from Economics courses I have taken as electives. Any suggestions as to how to get my foot in the door, especially in terms of entry-level courses/certifications, etc.?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Great question Sam! Your background in music may equip you with a wide variety of transferable skills – for example, the ability to adapt and learn new things quickly, teamwork, interpersonal skills (think of all the non-verbal communication that is key to music). So don’t discount that background.

That said, you could differentiate yourself as a candidate by reaching out to the many professional associations (i.e. Canadian Risk Management Society, Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, etc.) to see what kinds of seminars, events, etc. they are offering.

These can definitely provide you with opportunities to network and engage insurance professionals. Consider as well who may already be in your own insurance network – do you know people working in the industry? Who provides your own insurance products? Can they offer any insights? You can also look to insurance education through the Insurance Institute – http://www.insuranceinstitute.ca – you could take one or two courses on your own (the rest are likely to be employer supported) to demonstrate your interest and commitment.

Howard: Hi there! I just received my Master of Economics last week. I am really interested in the insurance industry. My Master’s essay studies the relationship between life expectancy and economic performance. I am just wondering what kind of positions in insurance industry will fit me? Thanks very much!

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Howard – your background may be well suited for a number of roles in insurance. Consider underwriting – they accept and reject risk on behalf of insurance companies (lots of analysis, research and business to business relationships) or a role as an Actuary (if you really loved the math/statistics/modelling aspects of your studies) as there are roles in the actuarial department that might interest you that do not require you to have taken the actuarial examinations. Finally, Risk Management might be a good fit. You can spot trends and trouble before it happens!

Elaine: Hello. I have a question about the CIP designation and the CRM designation. If I want to become an Underwriter or an Adjuster, which designation would you recommend? I’m having difficulty deciding which designation to pursue. Thanks for your advice.

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: The good news Elaine is that you do not necessarily have to ‘choose’ between these designations. They are both ones that you could earn while working in the insurance sector and could help you to excel in your career.

The CIP designation may be your starting point for the roles you identified as the courses are more focused on the technical skills and expertise you require to give you a sound foundation. Keep in mind that you do not need to complete the designation to get started in the industry… you may do one or two courses on your own to showcase your interest, but it is likely your employer will support you in completing the rest of the designation.

Then you may add the CRM (Canadian Risk Manager) to begin to specialize in managing, mitigating and controlling risk.

William: What is the most common entry-level position for recent graduates who may not have relevant insurance experience but come from a mathematical educational background?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: William – there is a world of possibilities in insurance! Remember, you likely have some very transferable skills from your studies and previous work experience. Check out the ‘Your Experience’ tab in the ‘Post-Secondary’, ‘High School’ and ‘Career Changer’ section of our website. You will see that there are a lot of ways your previous experience can come in handy!

That said, I would say by virtue of the number of people working in these areas, they are some of the more common roles in insurance: Broker – those who sell insurance products and services; Underwriter – accepts and rejects risk, puts policy into place; and Adjuster – helps people to get back to manage the claims process and get back to where they were before the loss occurred.

Given your math background… you may also want to consider looking into being an Actuary! Full occupational profiles – roles, responsibilities, salary information, traditional educational pathways, ‘how to get there,’ and future outlook are available on our site as well!

Xeniya: What is the entry-level position for recent graduates with no insurance experience? Where to find such entry level positions? What would make a person with no relevant experience outshine those who have insurance experience? (How do I get hired?)

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: There are lots of thoughts and wonderings about not having insurance-specific experience in this chat. I will share that I have participated in a number of industry roundtables recently with HR professionals across the industry. They all say that they hire new grads WITHOUT insurance experience.

The most important thing is to choose an area of the industry that fits with who you are, what you are interested in and ultimately what you like to do. Taking our Quiz – http://www.career-connections.info/en/Explore-Careers/Quiz.aspx – can be a helpful first step. From there, do your research! Start to explore what kinds of opportunities are available in the areas you are interested in, review those occupational profiles and talk to people working in the industry. You may also find it helpful to attend one of the niche events that we host on campus!

In terms of standing out, prepare a resume that is insurance-specific: visit http://www.career-connections.info/resumes (or read our article on the subject right here on TalentEgg). You will also want to consider networking, attending insurance seminars/events – visit http://www.insuranceinstitute.ca for more info on associations and our events, and getting your name out there to industry professionals.

TalentEgg Elias: Thanks, everyone! Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance: Tannia, a Media grad from Humber College, asks: “Have you worked with any Underwriters and if so what do they feel is the best part of the job?”

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: I am privileged to get to talk to Underwriters who are a part of our program’s Ambassador roster on a regular basis. Many of them share that the best aspects of their jobs are the constant challenge/stretch they feel in their work, the chance to work with so many great people (Brokers, fellow team members, subject matter experts), and of course, the variety of what they do on a daily basis.

You can hear from an Underwriter by watching this video: https://youtu.be/MgG89OHMq8s

TalentEgg Elias: Great! Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance: Josh, a Math and Economics student at McMaster, asks: “For recent grads looking for opportunities in the insurance industry, do you have any advice on networking etiquette?”

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: I have a whole bunch of networking tips: http://www.career-connections.info/en/Job-Site/Networking-Tips-Tools.aspx. We also have a great article right here on TalentEgg.ca – http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2012/09/24/network-insurance-industry/

My biggest tip: realize that networking is just like any conversation. It is a two-way street. Show genuine interest in the person you are talking to, be respectful of their time and show appreciation for any tips/advice/leads they provide. Hope that helps Josh!

RTKevin: Are there personality traits that most successful insurance people have? Which ones are they?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Kevin – you asked probably one of the toughest questions to answer 😉 Why? Because of the wide variety of opportunities available in insurance, the typical traits for success are just as varied.

That said – curiosity, a commitment to continuous learning and strong communication skills will serve you well in virtually any role in the sector!

AliceJP: Are certain kinds of non-insurance industry experience useful to boost an insurance career? Does this mean you’ll do better in certain industry-related roles than others?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Great question Alice! The key thing to do when assessing how your experience might help you in an insurance role is taking stock of what you did, your roles and how it might relate to the role you are after.

For example, if you were a camp counsellor, chances are there was a LOT of risk management going on! You might have also had to fill out an incident report from time to time and this might be helpful in claims. You also likely developed people and communication skills which could be useful in underwriting or as a Broker.

What skills will best serve you is really dependent on where you see yourself in the industry. Take a look at the ‘Your Experience’ tab in the High School, Post-Secondary and Career Changer sections of our site – http://www.career-connections.info. You will find a ton of examples of experience the industry has said could be helpful in connecting you to the industry.

JmHtower: Is writing a job application for an insurance job different from other jobs? How can I make sure I have a strong application for an insurance job?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Like any application, consider why you are a GREAT fit for the role. Be sure to share how your experience relates to the role you are applying for. Don’t leave things to the employer’s imagination – they may not make all the connections you are hoping for.

Take the job description and identify the top 5 needs that employer is looking for. Craft your application to address these top 5 needs. Before submitting, read it out loud to yourself or to a trusted friend or career counsellor. If you don’t hear these needs being addressed, you likely want to revise your application so that it does address them as best you can!

For more tips on insurance-specific applications, you may find it helpful to visit: http://www.career-connections.info/en/Job-Site/Resume-Tips-Tools.aspx

TalentEgg Elias: This seems like a great time for our poll!

What are you hoping to learn from Career Connections today?

● How to start my insurance career (42%)
● Which insurance role matches my skills and experience (8%)
● The earning potential and perks of a career in insurance (33%)
● Why a career in insurance is right for me (17%)

Sam T.: I’m interested in being a Loss Adjuster, it sounds like it involves a lot of detective work. Is that so?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Being an Adjuster can involve some aspects of investigation for sure! Even more so in a career as a Claims Investigator!

You can read full occupational profiles for each of those roles here:

http://www.career-connections.info/en/Post-Secondary-Students/Career-Profiles/Claims-Investigator.aspx
http://www.career-connections.info/en/Post-Secondary-Students/Career-Profiles/Loss-Adjuster.aspx

Hope that helps Sam!

Ori Fran: What kind of career growth is there in different insurance jobs? Where can my career go or take me?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: The simple answer Ori – as far as you want to go! To give a little more detail: there is a lot of room for growth within the industry. Whether it be above-average potential for advancement or the sheer breadth of the industry – remember, insurance is everywhere! So there are a lot of different types of products, services, claims, etc.

It does depend on the role you are most interested in, but we consistently hear from new grads and those working in the industry that there is a whole lot more to insurance than they thought! They are consistently challenged and rewarded by their work and that is a nice feeling, as is knowing the industry offers the flexibility to change directions or let your career evolve into exactly the one you want!

Elaine: Is a career in insurance a good idea for someone who isn’t good at math?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Elaine – you have no idea how many times I hear from insurance professionals that they are NOT good at math! The only role where math is an absolute must – and, you have to be REALLY good at it… is an Actuary!

Otherwise, if you see yourself more as a people, research or tactile person… there are lots of roles available to suit your talents!

TalentEgg Elias: That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours and a big thank-you to Trevor for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions! Do you have any final comments, Trevor?

Trevor Buttrum, Insurance Institute – Career Connections: Thank you so much for being a part of this egg-cellent discussion! I really enjoyed hearing your perspectives, thoughts and questions. If you have further questions, be sure to check out http://www.career-connections.info: lots of GREAT information here about all things insurance careers – education information, career profiles, videos, job site, etc.

Keep the conversation going with us on Twitter (@find_your_place) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/careersininsurance)!

Have a great day!!

TalentEgg Elias: For more insight into hatching your insurance career, check out this article, which debunks 5 common myths about careers in Canada’s insurance industry: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2013/11/27/5-common-myths-about-a-career-in-canadas-insurance-industry/

To learn more about Career Connections, check out their profile (http://talentegg.ca/employer/career-connections) and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@find_your_place) for insider info.

Thanks again for joining us today, TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter (@TalentEgg) and Facebook (facebook.com/TalentEgg) for upcoming Office Hours events!

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