Office Hours: Insurance Trends And Expert Career Advice With Career Connections

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On April 23rd, TalentEgg hosted Office Hours with Career Connections! Office Hours is an hour-long chat with career experts and recruiters for TalentEgg members.

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. Career Connections Program Manager Trevor Buttrum joined us to talk about careers in insurance!

Trevor discussed his expert industry insights, explained why insurance is great field to start a career and helped TalentEgg members identify the insurance careers that match their skills and experience!

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

Elias (TalentEgg):

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 (Career Connections):

Absolutely! Hello! My name is Trevor Buttrum and I’m the Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute of Canada.

I work with the Career Connections Team to manage all of our programs to help students/recent grads to find their place in insurance and succeed in hatching their insurance careers.

I am egg-cited you are joining us today and look forward to your questions!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Thanks, Trevor! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted by a student in advance:

Graham, an accounting student, asks:

“I’m interested in an insurance career, but what’s the best way to get my career in insurance started?”

Trevor (Career Connections):

Great question Graham – the best way to get your career started to is to first narrow down which area of the industry might be of most interest to you.

At Career Connections, we promote 9 gateway roles into the industry: that doesn’t include roles in things like IT, HR, Accounting and Administration. You can start this by visiting our web site and taking our quiz: www.career-connections.info

You will also find full occupational profiles, videos, information on education/licensing, and a job board!

Also Graham, you might find it helpful to then start to research companies, attend industry functions (we’ll talk more about those later), and of course start to network (we even have tips on that on our site).

Elias (TalentEgg):

Thanks Trevor!

Travis:

Hey Trevor, I was wondering what kind of experience, skills and talents you look for in a candidate that will stick out above the rest?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Travis, there are so many different transferable skills and experience that can apply to insurance careers.

You may be surprised to learn that virtually any experience you have had can likely be applied to an insurance career. Why? Insurance is all around us: it touches virtually everything we do in life and in business.

The most common things that employers look for are communication skills, teamwork, the ability to learn new things/commitment to professional development. You can learn more about how your experience can translate by visiting our site – we actually have whole sections devoted to this very topic.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great question, Travis!

If you want to learn more about connecting your part-time, volunteer or extra-curricular experience to an insurance job opportunity, check out this article from Career Connections: http://bit.ly/1lzAeM4

Trevor (Career Connections):

Thanks Elias – was just going to mention those articles 🙂

Guest:

What do you look for in a cover letter and resume? What would screen someone in…or out?

Trevor (Career Connections):

In terms of a resume – it is important that you speak to the ‘needs’ of the employer. Don’t just apply with a general resume – do your best to make it as specific to what the employer is looking for and the insurance industry as possible.

I find that most of our industry partners are willing to consider a variety of educational backgrounds and experience profiles, but if you leave too much to their imagination or are not connecting the dots for them, it can be difficult for them to screen you in.

There are more resume tips available right here on TalentEgg.ca in the Insurance Career Guide… as well as on our site at www.career-connections.info.

I’d say the same advice would apply to the covering letter.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great advice, Trevor! While we’re on the subject, a participant has a question about educational backgrounds.

StephS:

Hi Trevor! I graduated from visual communications oriented program this past year. I earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts. Do you feel that earns a place in insurance? If so, is it most likely that for me to get into insurance I need to start at a call center?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Good question Steph! Simply put, an Arts background can definitely have applications to a career in insurance – the key is to think about what skills you developed as a part of your program and how they might fit the employer’s needs and the position you are applying to.

Visual Communications may have applications in the marketing or communications department of some of the larger insurance firms – so, no call centre required.

And, it is important to recognize that even if you are in a call centre – it may be that you are providing an essential and professional service. It is very different than an outbound sales environment – particularly if you are working in claims.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Steph, you couldn’t have chosen a better person to ask about your career options in insurance!

You can learn more about insurance careers in TalentEgg’s Insurance Career Guide, which features a number of resources sponsored by Career Connections! Click here to view the guide: http://bit.ly/TEinsurance

CamN:

I’ve heard that in order to build a long-term career in insurance, you need to get certain licenses and certificates or qualifications. Does this apply to all areas in insurance (i.e., claims, actuarial, underwriting,…), and if so, is there any way to get these while I’m still in school?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Cam – that is a bit of a loaded question, as there are so many learning options available in the sector. It really depends on which area you start in and where your career ultimately leads to!

That said, for those looking at becoming an Agent/Broker, you can pursue your license. These vary by province, but usually your entry level license is a self-study course followed by an exam.

Those working on the company side of the business – claims, underwriting, risk management – see many professionals working towards their Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) or Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designations.

Elias (TalentEgg):

To those of you who have just joined the chat – welcome!

Alex:

Hi Trevor, thanks for having me. How is the job market for new graduates in the insurance industry and is the Canadian Insurance Course a required stepping stone to enter the industry?

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great question, Alex!

Trevor (Career Connections):

You can definitely do your Broker/Agent License while you are in school – but, would not recommend doing so unless you intend to use it before you graduate as you need to use it or lose it ;). CIP or CRM credits may be offered at your institution – check with your registrar’s office.

You can also pursue the CIP through the Insurance Institute – www.insuranceinstitute.ca. One or two courses are okay on your own, but many actually complete the CIP with the support of the employer once they are working in the sector.

Actuarial is a whole other animal… it is regulated by a series of exams. But you can definitely write these before you graduate.

Alex – the job market is looking very promising for new grads. In fact, up to 28% of our industry is eligible to retire in the next five years.

Even in times of economic downturn, the industry tends to weather the storm better than the general Canadian labour market.

It is not required to take insurance education prior to joining the industry – I would encourage you to benchmark your skills and experience against the needs of the employer first… and then, look to see if any certifications/licenses could help differentiate you as a candidate.

The exception to that of course, is being an Actuary. You need to have completed at least one of the exams before joining the sector.

Elias (TalentEgg):

We’re getting a lot of great questions about insurance careers! If you’ve submitted a question, don’t worry! We’ll do our best to cover as many as possible.

Guest:

Hi Trevor and Elias, thank you for taking the time to host this session.

One thing I noticed when browsing the career sections of insurance company’s website is that, in terms of entry-level positions, there are a lot more that are sales-oriented compared to claims, underwriting, etc. that are more about numerical analysis.

Do you think this is the hiring trend now, and how do you think recent grads can break into the more quantitative-analysis-oriented areas?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Great question on the trends re: jobs and hiring.

The industry as a whole does have quite a few sales positions as it is the group that deals with the consumer or front end of things. If you are particularly interested in underwriting, claims or actuarial, it is important that you are looking at Insurance Companies vs. Brokerages/Agencies.

We have full definitions on our website in our FAQ section to help you better understand where you might be able to find the opportunities you are looking for. You will find that there are quite a few positions available in underwriting/claims these days.

Agnes:

As an education student, I never considered working for an insurance company. How does my degree lend itself to an insurance-based position?

Trevor (Career Connections):

The thing to remember Agnes, is that as an education student, you are also likely taking courses in your teachable subjects or as a part of your foundational degree. These for sure are likely to have direct applications to roles in insurance.

As well, you might find that your education degree could be applicable to working (perhaps eventually) in the learning and development departments of larger insurance companies, adjusting firms and brokerages.

If you check out the ‘Your Experience’ tab in the Career Changer section of our site, you will also find a complete breakdown of how education can transfer into the sector.

Particularly that handy skill of making complex concepts easily accessible – a great attribute of a broker or claims adjuster.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-cellent! Travis asked a question earlier, and it looks like he has a follow-up:

Travis:

Alright, interesting. What kind of training do you guys provide on behalf of your employees in sales?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Travis – training does vary by company. Obviously, the larger the organization, the more likely it is that they have a more robust formal training infrastructure.

That is not to say that in a smaller to medium-sized organization that you would not find training guides or really great mentors who might be able to provide you the direction you are looking for.

Training is more often than not something you will find is abundant in the insurance sector.

Lucy:

What should students be doing during their studies to help get their foot in the door?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Lucy – that is a very good question. The first thing is figure out what you might like to do in the insurance industry. Narrowing it down to an area or two of interest can really help you develop a resume that shines, networking, and making industry connections.

The other thing you can do is look at making connections to the industry – you might find it helpful to read our networking tips at www.career-connections.info. There are many professoinal associations and groups that host regular meetings, events, etc. that you might find useful to get involved in.

You can also look at insurance education – whether that be a seminar or even one or two courses towards something like your Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation. This can offer a distinct advantage and demonstrate your interest and commitment to the industry.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Thanks, Trevor! This seems like a great time for our poll:

Which statement best describes your insurance career knowledge?

• I know which insurance career interests me ( 17% )
• I’m exploring different roles in the industry ( 25% )
• I’m researching insurance to decide if it’s the right field for me ( 58% )

Yvonne:

Hello, I was wondering about alternative opportunities for an international relations major?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Yvonne – well, first thing to point out is that there are a number of insurance organizations that are global enterprises. So, your understanding of international markets and policy infrastructure could come in handy!

In looking at where you might start, you might consider something like claims or underwriting. Claims would offer you the opportunity to help people when risk has become a reality – your goal is to assist them in understanding what their policy covers and how you might be able to help them get back to where they were before their loss occurred.

In underwriting, it is more about wording, putting the policy into place, analysis, research and determining the rate for the premium someone may need to pay.

So, it comes down to your interests and where you would like to go in your career. But, the possibilities are definitely there!

Elias (TalentEgg):

It’s important to have an accurate understanding of your chosen field!

Make sure you’re in the know by exploring some common misconceptions about the insurance industry: http://bit.ly/1kXVb5a (Trevor wrote this article!)

Layne M:

I’ve always thought of myself as kind of an entrepreneur, who dreams of owning his own business. Can I use that quality in insurance?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Layne – if you see yourself as entrepreneurial, the role of Broker/Agent might be a starting point. There are also possibilities to work an independent loss adjuster, appraiser or even risk manager.

Insurance companies range in size from 1 or 2 employees to 5000 – so, there are quite a variety of businesses. I can think of 5 or 6 individuals I have met recently who are working independently and ‘exercising their entrepreneurial spirit.’

Roberta Allen:

What changes have you seen in the insurance industry during your career? How has the field changed for young people and/or how have young people changed the field?

Trevor (Career Connections):

Even in the four years I have been working in the sector, I have found that there has been a shift towards more younger people ‘choosing’ a career in insurance as opposed to just stumbling upon it. This is encouraging! Though once people get here they tend to love it!

The industry is definitely trending younger and is always on the look out for talented, creative and motivated people!

I think that young people have helped to change the field by bringing their own perspectives, ideas and even in some cases misconceptions about the industry to the table. They are also helping in the industry as it leverages new technologies to move the business forward.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-cellent! Remember, this week is #InsuranceWeek on TalentEgg, so be sure to check out the Insurance Career Guide, which is sponsored by Career Connections: http://bit.ly/TEinsurance

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

Trevor (Career Connections):

Thanks Elias! Great questions everyone!! Keep the conversation flowing – like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@find_your_place) and check out our Youtube channel – www.youtube.com/careersininsurance

Thanks again everyone! Remember, no matter what your interests, education and experience… there is likely a career for you in insurance!!

Guest:

Thanks so much!

Roberta Allen:

Egg-cellent chat! 😉

StephS:

Thanks for all the great resources!

Yvonne:

Thanks very much.

Addy Mustpha:

Thank you.

Guest:

Great to hear from an expert in insurance. Thanks!

Elias (TalentEgg):

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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