Office Hours: A Look At Career Opportunities In The Insurance Industry With Career Connections

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Did you miss our Office Hours event with Career Connections?

Don’t worry – this is your chance to chatch up. We had a fantastic chat with Career Connections expert, Trevor Buttrum, about the insurance industry and the opportunities it holds for aspiring young professionals. Many of your submitted your questions before and during the event, and we answered a ton of them, covering topics from entry-level salaries to interview tips and beyond.

Want more details? Read on to find out!

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Hey TalentEgg-ers – Office Hours will begin shortly at 4pm(ET). Stay tuned!

Hi everyone, thanks for joining us! We’re egg-cited to kick off our #OfficeHours session with Career Connections.

Over the next 60 minutes, we’re going to answer your career questions about the insurance industry. We have a lot of questions already, which is great! We’re going to try and get through as many as we can today.

Now, if you didn’t get a chance to pre-submit a question before the event, don’t worry. Send in your questions at any time during the event, or tweet us with the hashtag #OfficeHours. We’ll do our best to get your questions answered!

Before we begin, why don’t we introduce today’s expert from Career Connections – could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Hi there – my name is Trevor and I am the Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute of Canada. Career Connections is all about being a gateway to the property & casualty insurance sector. We promote the many rewarding career paths in the industry and also talk a little bit about how insurance works and illustrate its role in society. If you haven’t already, I’d invite you to visit our web site at http://www.career-connections.info/. I am really egg-cited to be a part of today’s discussion and look forward to your questions!!

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Thanks a lot! Let’s jump right into the questions.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Jenny, a Marketing major at Ryerson University, asks:

“What’s the typical entry-level salary for someone working in this industry in marketing?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Thanks Jenny! Entry level positions in the insurance industry tend to start at $40 – $50K, depending on the area of the industry you are most interested in and geography. You can read more about the salary of a Marketing Representative in the career profiles section of our website!

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Joliverav from Universite du Quebec asks:

“Can you tell us about insurance internship opportunities in Canada?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Joliverav, good question. There are a number of companies that do offer summer internships, trainee programs and positions available for students and new grads. The best thing you can do is do some research on the insurance organizations in the geographical areas you want to work. From there, you can visit their web site, check out the Career Connections Job Site (I know there are a few internship opportunities currently advertised there… and, 150+ organizations listed to help you in your research), and keep your eye on sites like TalentEgg.ca for positions that may be available. We would also encourage you to network (whether on campus, through professional associations, LinkedIn or your own personal connections) and reach out to target organizations directly to explore opportunities for the summer. You never know, they may be open to hiring a summer student – but, may not have advertised for the position.

Comment from Nabeel

Can someone with no work experience enter this field?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Nabeel, Thanks for your question. Insurance is a sector that requires people with educational and skills backgrounds from a wide variety of areas. You do not necessarily require work experience in the industry to get started in the industry – in fact, that is more often the case than not for new grads getting their start in the sector.

You will want to consider how your experiences in school, volunteering, or even part time work might help you in the insurance sector.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Raj, a Mechanical Engineering major at Memorial University, asks:

“What’s more valuable for a resume/cover letter: expressing soft-skills (i.e. leadership and learning abilities) vs hard-skills?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Raj, That’s a tough one – as, I, think that they can both play a role in making a connection with an insurance employer. I think that the key is to do your best to position your experience and skills as it relates to the employer’s needs. Don’t simply state that you can do something – but, try to put it into context and quantify/enlighten for the employer where you can. The more you speak to how your skills and experience relate to the insurance role you are applying to, the easier it is for the employer to see how you might fit in. For example, if you are applying to be an underwriting assistant you will want to emphasize skills and experience that demonstrate you are detail oriented, analytical, and able to manage multiple priorities. There is a great section on the Career Connections web site called “Your Experience” (Post-Secondary) – it can be helpful to you in positioning your skills and previous work/volunteer experience in a way that will resonate.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Jaimee, a Business Administration major at York University, asks:

“If you have your insurance license, what steps should you take to be profitable with it?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Thanks Jamiee – If you are considering a career as a Broker/Agent in the insurance sector, you usually are someone who likes working with people, is not adverse to sales, and likes helping people to decide which direction might be best for them.

In terms of setting yourself up for success, you will likely want to find an employer who is committed to your training and development. Remember, most products in P & C insurance are not optional… therefore, you shouldn’t have to do a lot of ‘cold calling’ right off the bat – in fact, many of your customers will come to you. There should already be an established network of business that you are supporting. As well, curiosity, setting tangible goals, and managing your employers expectations effectively will also help you in being successful in this area of the business.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Oleksiy, a Strategic Relationship Marketing major at George Brown College, asks:

“I’m looking for a marketing co-op/internship. Will I be able to find one in this field?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Oleksiy, good question! When you step back and reflect for a minute, you can start to see that insurance organizations are businesses like any other. Many would have in-house marketing and business development departments that would respond to the organization’s needs in this respect. In fact, one of the positions that Career Connections promotes as a gateway role to the industry is ‘Marketing Representative’. There might also be opportunities with professional associations within the sector and marketing & PR firms which have insurance organizations as clients. We’d suggest identifying the geographical areas you would like to work (and identifying some of the insurance organizations (150+ companies are linked on the Career Connections job site) in those key locations. From there, you can start to research the types of opportunities that might fit with what you are looking for. *REMEMBER* Just because you do not see what you are looking for advertised today, does not mean that it won’t be there sometime in the future. Keep checking back regularly!

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Need more advice? Here’s a great article to get you started on pursuing an insurance career: http://bit.ly/1HcskFh

Comment From Binny Cho  

Hi Trevor, I was wondering how mobile the insurance industry is? In particular, I’m interested in knowing whether transferring between claims/underwriting to actuarial would be a possibility.

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Binny, there is quite a bit of opportunity for skills mobility in the insurance sector. Many insurance professionals do not have a linear career – rather, it is a squiggly line.

That being said, in your specific example, you would have some unique insights coming from claims about the frequency and severity of claims. As well, as the nature of the insurance policies a company has in place. However, if you are looking at actuarial roles as an option – you will want to make sure that you have a passions for math/modelling, as well as a handle on your actuarial examinations.

More info on both roles are also available on our site.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Jessica from the University of Waterloo, asks:

“What are some entry-level positions in the insurance industry that I can apply for?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Thanks for your question, Jessica! The interesting thing about the insurance sector is that there are multiple entry points. We encourage you to take stock of your education, interests, and experience to see how they might fit in with an insurance career. You can do this on our web site – www.career-connections.info. There is even a quiz that you can take that will help you to narrow down some potential starting points in the sector. Some examples of entry level roles include things like: Customer Service Representative, Broker/Agent, Underwriting Assistant, Underwriter, Claims Assistant, Telephone Adjuster, Claims Specialist, Risk Analyst, Actuarial Intern, Actuary, Marketing Representative, Junior Appraiser, Loss Control Specialist… as you can see, these are quite diverse positions. It really helps if you understand what you are good at and where you might like to start your career in the industry. We also have full Career Profiles that you can explore to help you get a handle on who does what and what a career might look like in insurance. These include things like roles & responsibilities, what it takes to get there, typical education requirements, salary information, and the future outlook for each gateway role.

 

Comment From Jonas  

Hi Trevor! I’m so thankful that you’re doing this. I was wondering about what the career trajectory of a standard insurance professional is, as well as prospect about finding employment in the Insurance Sector.

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Jonas, as I mentioned in my last answer to Jessica – there are multiple entry points in the sector. Your trajectory will, actually, really depend on you, your skills, and where you would like to take your career.

That being said, there are above average opportunities for advancement and development in the sector. You can move into more specialized technical roles or even into people leadership/management. Again, it is ultimately about what you are most interested in.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Namrata, a Psychology major/Spanish minor from Carleton University, asks:

“Now that so much of the job application process happens online, what can we do to set ourselves apart from the rest? More specifically, when given a name and number contact, it’s easy to speak directly to someone after applying – but what should we do when we apply to a company and not a person at the company?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Namrata, I can appreciate how it can feel like when you apply on-line – you are just sending out your application into the universe and you have to leave it to chance. BUT… you can control how you position your skills and experience. If you do that in a way that is focused on the Top 5 needs of the insurance employer you are applying to, you will likely start to experience more results. This needs specific approach means talking about your skills and experience in a way that an insurance employer can relate to. Focus on what it is they are after and illustrate how you can do what they are asking for. That will go along way in getting your application noticed! You can also do your best to network with employers at industry functions (for example local chapter meetings of the Ontario Insurance Adjusters Association (OIAA) or the networking receptions hosted by Canadian Insurance Women’s Associations, or volunteer at the numerous golf tournaments hosted by the industry every summer), on Linked IN, events on campus (keep your eye on our web site – www.career-connections.info and TalentEgg for event listings), and at seminars/professional development sessions or conferences.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Career Connections has a ton of resources on their employer page. See for yourself: http://bit.ly/1AQINZi

Comment From Nabeel  

What qualities do you look for in candidates?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Nabeel, thanks for your question. Again, because each of the roles are so diverse in this sector, this is a tough question to answer… If you are gifted at analysis and math, a career as an Actuary might be right for you. Talented at building relationships, like attention to detail, and are a strong problem solver– underwriting might be the career path you start out on. Strategic, spot trouble before it happens, and are good at coming up with a plan – Risk Management or Loss Control might be your fit. Good with people, able to make complex concepts accessible, and part investigator/therapist – you might consider a career in claims. I would encourage you to take a look at the “Your Interests” section on our site and also to take our Quiz. This will give you an idea of what employers are typically looking for in each of the career paths available. In general though, curiosity, effective communication/interpersonal skills, and a solutions focused approach will go a long way in the industry.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Iman, a Finance major at the University of Toronto, asks:

“If I worked as a representative selling insurance, would it all be commission?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Iman, the vast majority of roles in the property & casualty insurance sector are NOT commissioned based – even, on the sales side of the business. More often than not, it is a combination of base salary, performance bonuses, and commission. So, if you have an active interest in sales, there are many opportunities which are not commissioned based – particularly at the entry level.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Ahmedansar646 from the University of Toronto asks:

“How can I learn more about the insurance industry? How can I enter this field and become successful?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Well – there are a lots of things you can do to learn more about the sector: First, visit our TalentEgg profile. Second, visit the Career Connections website – there is a quiz you can take, career profiles, videos, and LOTS of information about the industry and how you can get connected. There is even a job site and links to 150+ insurance organizations. Third, start to apply our networking tips (also on our site and in articles on TalentEgg) to help connect you to those working in the sector. You will find that people really like to talk about their careers and share their insights about how you might get started.

In terms of being successful, finding a mentor, continuously learning, being curious, being humble, and committing yourself to excellence are the tips for success that I hear most often from industry Ambassadors I have the opportunity to work with across the country at events on campus and in the community.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Now seems like a great time for our poll!

The insurance industry can accommodate a wide range of career backgrounds and experiences. Which background describes you best?

 

  • Business: Marketing, Sales, etc. (50%)
  • Communications: English, Media, etc. (7%)
  • Sciences: Mathematics, Engineering, etc (36%)
  • Other (7%)

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Nina, an Economics major at the University of Western Ontario, asks:

“The job market is very difficult for new grads like myself. What are the chances compared to other industries that I can get into insurance and secure a long term stable career there?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Nina, I can appreciate that the job market is tough – particularly for students and new grads. A few things to know about the insurance industry based on the Insurance Institute’s most recent demographic research:  

  1. We are growing – in fact, we added 12,000 positions to our workforce at the height of the last economic recession.
  1. That actually ties in nicely to my next point, we are stable. Insurance is embedded into virtually everything we do in life and in business. We have a 500+ year history and are third pillar of the financial services sector… in essence, we don’t expect to be going anywhere.
  1. We anticipate that up to 28% percent of our workforce (approximately 25,000) will be eligible to retire by 2022. That means there is a talent crunch looming.

And, we are on the lookout for talented, creative, and motivated people to join our sector.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Chaitanya, an MBA student (Business Analysis) at Brock University, asks:

“I am an Business Analyst with MBA degree. I do not have any domain knowledge in insurance. How can I gain insurance domain knowledge and start my career in the insurance sector?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Thanks for your question Chaitanya – I can appreciate that insurance can seem like a field where you would need a lot of industry specific knowledge before starting your career. However, that is not necessarily the case. Namely, because insurance is a part of virtually everything we do in life and in business, there is a good chance that the knowledge and experience that you already have acquired can help you get started in the sector.

If you want to differentiate yourself as a candidate, you could also explore taking one or two insurance courses, through say the Insurance Institute, for example, to demonstrate your interest and commitment to the sector.

More often than not, professionals have shared with us that they got their start in the industry first… and, then took courses with the support of their employer to help enhance the knowledge required to excel in their role.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Xin, a Commerce major at McMaster University, asks:

“Can you name some trustworthy insurance companies that I can look into applying to?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Xin, thanks for your question. I would suggest that you start with having a look at our Job Site. There you will find a list of links to 150+ insurance organizations who are supporters of the Career Connections program.

For context, Canadians often cannot name 5 insurance organizations.

Some of the larger insurance organizations include companies like Intact, Aviva, RBC Insurance, State Farm, AON, Marsh, Crawford and Company, RSA, Chubb, etc.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Remember – we have a whole Career Guide dedicated to the insurance industry. Be sure to check it out after the chat: http://bit.ly/1hdqjME

 

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Nirav, a student at Lester B. Pearson Vocational College, asks:

“I have a question regarding my career point of view. I want to start my career in the Information and Technology field. Can you help me identify some steps I can take to pursue this career path? Thank you.”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Nirav – interesting question! IT is actually a growing area in the sector as companies expand their product systems, leverage things like big data, and aim to protect against cyber liability.

IT departments are a part of many businesses – insurance is no exception. I would definitely encourage you to take a look at the roles available within insurance organizations – I think you will find that they are challenging, unique, and rewarding.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

zippy1234 asks:

“I only have retail and customer service experience. What jobs should I apply for?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

zippy1234 – It may surprise you to learn that retail and customer service experience can be applicable in a wide variety of roles in the insurance sector. We are a people driven business and much of an insurance organizations success is built on relationships.

Your ability to provide outstanding service in a high volume environment, address customer concerns in a professional manner, explaining a particular policy/procedure at the store or restaurant, or even preventing theft/shoplifting could be applied in roles like Broker/Agent, Underwriter, or even Loss Adjuster.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Does your insurance career resume have you stumped? If so, we have a handy guide you should read: http://bit.ly/1K2I1yA

Comment From Palvasha  

Hi what’s the typical entry-level salary for someone working in this industry in adjusting roles?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Depending on your geography, insurance adjusters tend to start at around 40 – 50 K. There is more information about a roles in claims (adjusting, investigations, appraising) on our site – including salary expectations.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Maya, a student at the University of Toronto, asks:

“If you are introverted, can you succeed?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Maya – I myself am an introvert and have found that there are many of ‘us’ in the insurance sector! Though a people driven business, we do need thoughtful reflection, research/analysis, and those who ask questions to help make each area of the business a success.

There are a wide array of roles in the sector – and, as such, a need for people with diverse personalities and skill sets.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Corey, a Finance major at Ryerson University, asks:

“Do insurance interviews typically involve any special components, like case studies? What should I be prepared for? Thanks”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Corey – good question! Glad you are thinking ahead… it is becoming more common for Insurance employers to use case studies and scenario based questions as a part of the interview process.

You can prepare for these by thinking about the role you have applied to, the needs the employer has identified, and how your experience/skills can be leveraged in your answers. This is a good tip not just for case study questions, but the insurance interview in general.

Veronica (TalentEgg):

Speaking of interviews, here’s a great article on how to ace your next insurance interview: http://bit.ly/1bpift5

Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much for your fantastic questions everyone – if we didn’t get to yours, hopefully we covered your topic at some point during the event!

Trevor, anything else to add before we go?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections  

Thanks so much for coming everyone! I really appreciated your great questions and having the opportunity to be here!! Keep the conversation going with us on our social media channels! Wishing you best of luck in finding your place in insurance!

Veronica (TalentEgg):

If you missed any part of the chat, we’ll be posting a transcript of the chat in the near future. Thanks again for coming out today, everyone. We hope you gained some valuable insights on the insurance industry. Have a great day!

Have more insurance career questions? Check out the Career Connections Employer Page!

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