Office Hours: Break Into The Insurance Industry With Career Connections

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For students and grads looking to launch a career in a diverse industry with filled with plenty of exciting opportunities, Insurance just might be their perfect fit!

On November 17th, we chatted with Trevor Buttrum, Program Manager at Career Connections during Office Hours to explore all of the career options available to students and new grads. During the hour-long online chat, we covered topics ranging from interview tips to education and more!

If you weren’t able to attend the event, here’s a full transcript of the conversation.

TalentEgg
Hello everyone, thanks for joining Office Hours with Career Connections! To log into the chat, please follow the steps below:

Click the message bar above to activate (“send questions or comments”)
Pick a screen name – your first name will do!
Enter your question(s) into the chat – they’ll be accepted into our moderation system as soon as you hit ‘send’!

We will be starting the event promptly at 4 p.m. EST – stay tuned!

TalentEgg
Hello, and welcome to Office Hours with Career Connections! My name is Melissa and I’ll be monitoring today’s chat.

We’re super egg-cited to get things rolling. Today, we have a very special guest joining us from the Career Connections team who will be answering your career questions.

Before we get started, I’ll quickly explain how this event works. Students and grads (that’s you!) will submit career questions over the next hour, and our guest experts will do their best to answer as many of them as they can. You can ask about anything from entry-level opportunities to interview tips. The sky’s the limit!

If you pre-registered and submitted an advance question, then you can sit back and relax! If you have additional questions, you can submit them live during the chat.

Now let’s introduce our guest egg-spert!

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Hi everyone! So egg-cited to be here today for the discussion!! We are really looking forward to answering your questions and sharing some insight about the rewarding opportunities available in the property & casualty insurance sector.

For context… Career Connections (www.career-connections.info) is a division of the Insurance Institute of Canada (www.insuranceinstitute.ca). The Insurance Institute is the education and designation body for Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry. Think of us like the CPA or Canadian Securities Institute (CSI).

We are here to answer your questions about careers in the industry on behalf of the 200+ industry partners we have the pleasure of working with across the industry!

TalentEgg
Great – let’s get started!

Naureen asks:
“What are the academic requirements for a position in the insurance field?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Hi Naureen! That is a common question as insurance is only embedded into the curriculum at a large handful number (albeit growing) schools across the country… so, what DO you need to get into insurance. The good news is that your post-secondary education is often enough as a baseline to help you “get through the door” so to speak.

As insurance is a part of virtually everything we do in life and in business, there is a need for individuals with backgrounds and experiences from a wide array of disciplines. Essentially, we consistently are looking for talented, creative, and motivated people to join our industry.

That being said, certain concentrations may have greater natural linkage to a particular area of the business than others. I’d invite you to have a look at the “Your Education” section of the Career Connections website to see how your studies might best align to different roles in the Insurance sector. Hope that helps!

Danilo, a George Brown College student asks:
“Can you please talk about the importance of building rapport during an interview? What is your advice for doing so?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Danilo, rapport building and being your true self are two very important elements of the interview process. It will become apparent very quickly if you are not being genuine or who YOU are in an interview process. Plus, who wants to spend their time being something they are not!

For me rapport building, is about greeting everyone you have the opportunity to meet with a firm handshake and warm smile. I also encourage being conscious of your body language – sitting comfortably, slight lean in to the discussion, arms casually placed or hands folded on the table, nodding and smiling where appropriate, and making eye contact with each of the interviewers when answering questions.

Rapport building can also come in the form of making connections between what the interviewer is saying and some of your experiences, listening intently, and asking purposeful clarifying questions to help the conversation flow. When the interview is nearing completion, be sure to ask AT LEAST one or two questions that you have prepared in advance. And, as it concludes thank everyone for the opportunity, clarify next steps, shake hands, and be sure to follow-up with a thank you note or card!

For more interview tips, check out a recent TalentEgg Article on interviews in the insurance sector here.

Abhi, an Actuarial Science major at the University of Waterloo asks:
“I’m a third year student and I’m trying to obtain an actuarial internship. I have 3 exams passed and a decent amount of work experience and leadership experience, but is there anything else I can do to stand out from my peers?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Abhi – first, congratulations on passing 3 actuarial examinations! That is no easy feat! Congratulations. You are well on your way to working towards being an Associate of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. It is also good that you are feeling like you have some good work and leadership experience to complement your academic achievements. This is actually an area that sometimes students, Actuarial Science students in particular, do not pay as much attention to as they are so focused on passing their examinations.

To stand out as an actuarial candidate, you can also highlight your people and interpersonal skills! Actuaries need to work in a way that is interdisciplinary and supports the core operations of the business of insurance. Plus, the work, as you know is complex. It often requires being broken down into easily digestible and meaningful pieces.

In addition, research about the organization and the company you are applying to can go a long way in helping you to understand the employer’s need and how you are a fit for what they are looking for. You might also consider networking, getting to know other actuaries/industry professionals through events or LinkedIN, or talking to your Career Centre about engaging alumni who have graduated from your program and are working in areas you would like to as well.

Roman, a Psychology major at York University student asks:
“Other than traditional roles in insurance (like brokers and actuaries), what other career options are there?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Roman, there are a wide array of career opportunities in the insurance sector. You are correct, people often think of Brokers, Actuaries, and other sales based roles when they think insurance. But, Insurance, in many cases, is not what you think… in fact, it is a whole lot more!

There are roles in supporting individuals through the claims process (Loss Adjusters), Investigations (Claims Investigators), marketing and business development (Marketing Representative), appraising (Appraisers), risk management (Risk Managers, Loss Control Specialists) and of course, Underwriters. And, don’t forget that Insurance is a business like any other… we also have roles in things like IT, HR, Accounting/Finance, and Operations.

If you haven’t already, I’d invite to you to visit our Talent Egg Profile or our website to explore further – www.career-connections.info

Amanda
What skills should I highlight on my resume for an underwriter role?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Thanks Amanda! That is a great question. Underwriters are all about accepting and rejecting risk for insurance companies. They are relationship builders, analysts, and great communicators. They also are focused on finding solutions that work best for the client being represented by a broker or agent who is bringing them the risk and the company they work for – so, their problem solving and customer service skills are also very important. Underwriters also need to be ethical, good decision makers, and tactful.

TalentEgg
Stay up to date on Career Connections news by connecting with them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

Samantha, a Business Management major at Humber College asks:
“What kind of work experience do insurance recruiters look for in new grad candidates?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Samantha – thanks for your question. Because insurance is such a vast industry, there may be some characteristics or experience that recruiters are looking for that is most applicable to specific roles. So, if you narrow it down a little bit first, this question becomes a little bit easier. I’d invite you to take our quiz to narrow down which area of the industry might be a fit for you and a starting point to explore careers in a little more detail. Our full career profiles really do break down the responsibilities and experiences that can be useful in each role and include information on things like salary, future outlook, etc.

That said, there are some common characteristics that recruiters are looking for: Curiosity and the ability to make connections Communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills Problem Solving The ability to build effective relationships both internally and externally These all rank high on the list!

Sukhmanpreet asks:
“What kind of certifications do I need to secure a job in insurance?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Sukhmanpreet – that is a great question. The easy answer is that you do not necessarily require any insurance credentials or designations to get started in the industry… in fact, most people complete these while they are already working in the sector. That being said, if you want to sell insurance products or work independently as an adjuster, you will want to earn the appropriate licenses.

Or, if you are looking to be an actuary, you will want to start taking your examinations. Essentially, there is no one path to being an insurance professional. I’d invite you to do a little bit of research on the careers available and determine which ones are a fit for you before deciding on training or further credentials.

TalentEgg
Do you think you have what it takes to egg-cel in this industry? This advice will set you up for success.

Priyanka
What does the career progression look like for someone in the insurance industry?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Priyanka – thanks for your question! Career progression and trajectory you take is really a combination of what you want, the steps you take to help yourself get there and the opportunities you are presented with. No two insurance careers are exactly alike – that is because there is so much variety in the sector and a wide array of opportunities for you to pursue.

Stephanie asks:
“How important is someone’s educational background? Is experience or education more important when applying for insurance jobs?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Stephanie – thanks for the good question. When it comes to insurance, we are looking for talented, creative, and motivated people from a wide array of experiences and disciplines. So.. if I had to choose just between those two things… I’d say it is experience. The caveat that i would offer hear is that I don’t mean ‘direct’ insurance experience… there are likely a lot of connections between the experience you have already acquired and the insurance sector. I’d suggest visiting our ‘Your Experience’ section in each of our audience areas High School, Post-Secondary, and Career Changer on our website – www.career-connections.info to explore further.

TalentEgg
Stephanie – we suggest you take a look at this article!

This seems like a great time for a poll question!

What are you most egg-cited to learn about today?

Job opportunities 40%
• The application process 20%
Co-ops and internships 40%
• Growth opportunities

Patricia asks:
“Where can I find opportunities for new grads?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Patricia – great question! So… there are actually quite a few places that I’d keep your eyes on for new grad opportunities. 1 – right here on Talent Egg 2 – the Career Connections job site (www.career-connections.info) 3 – our list of Employer Links (also on the job site). There are 150+ direct links to HR sites.. a number of companies even have distinct sections of their career sites with opportunities for recent grads.

Yaima
What career paths are available for someone with a Psychology background?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Yaima – A psychology background is applicable to insurance in quite a few ways. You might find the greatest connection to a role in claims – these can be part investigator, part therapist. They help people when they are the most vulnerable – something has happened and they need our help to navigate what’s next. They need support in understanding what their insurance policy covers and how they might get back to where they were before the loss occurred. This requires claims professionals to be a bit of a case or project manager… this can involve liaising with medical professionals, restoration companies, legal professionals/law enforcement, auto body repair shops, etc. depending on your area of specialization. Psychology majors may also want to explore roles as a Broker, Risk Manager, or Underwriter.

Manpreet, an Accounting major asks:
“What kinds of employment opportunities are available to students?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Manpreet, I am going to assume (since you used the word students) that you are asking about summer, internship, and co-op opportunities. There are definitely some companies that offer this type of employment. These would be particularly focused in operational support, underwriting, claims, and analytics.

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
I’d invite you to keep an eye out for positions on TalentEgg, our jobsite, and the sites of the 150+ employers (from our job site) to get a sense of what might be available in your area and in roles that might fit with what you are looking for.

TalentEgg
Interested in learning more about the Insurance industry? Check out this article!

Angelo, an Economics major at the University of Toronto asks:
“Which soft skills would you say are most attractive to insurance recruiters?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Angelo! Great Question. I would say that from my perspective the skills that recruiters are on the hunt for the most are: Curiosity and the ability to make connections Communication and interpersonal skills Problem Solving, the ability to build effective relationships both internally and externally, Analytical Skills, Team Work.

Jason, a Conestoga College student asks:
“Are there any specific degrees or designations that stand out to recruiters when hiring for insurance positions? Specifically for a Risk Management role?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Jason, thanks for your question. Of course, any courses that you have the opportunity to pursue that are related to insurance and risk management will be beneficial to you on two fronts: you will get a sense of if you like insurance and… will also give you a leg up as you will already have some knowledge of how the industry works, key concepts, etc. So, if you have the opportunity as a part of your program – take it!

For risk management, there is a designation called the Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation. Some universities offer this as a part of the programs they offer or through their department of continuing studies. The Insurance Institute, of which the Career Connections team I work for is a part, also offers our Risk Management Certificate which gives you the courses required to obtain your CRM as well as can be counted towards electives for your Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation.

All of that said Jason, these credentials are often earned while you are already working in the sector and with the financial support of your employer. So… what, ultimately might help you stand out is your interest and commitment to the industry. Combine that with some networking and you have a great combination.

Matteo
Is there an area of insurance that does more hiring than others?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Matteo – thanks for your question! Insurance is a growing industry, even in periods of economic uncertainty. In fact, we added 12,000 positions to our workforce at the height of the last economic recession and growth is expected in all areas of the business. As well, according to the Insurance Institute’s demographic research, 25,000 professionals are expected to retire between now and 2022. That presents a significant amount of opportunity across the industry.

With that said, the areas that employers most commonly are on the look out for (just by the sheer volume of professionals required in this operational area) include Brokers, Claims Professionals, Underwriters, and Actuaries.

Kush
Reaching out to people whom you’ve never met before can be a daunting task. For students, reaching out can be more difficult as industry professionals get hundreds of emails and replying to students may not be on the top of their priority list. What is the best way to structure an email that will guarantee a response from someone who might get a ton of emails a day?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Kush – thanks for your thoughtful question! You are right, reaching out to someone you have never met can be intimidating. It takes some thoughtful consideration about what you are ultimately looking for from this individual and how they might be able to best help.

My suggestion is to keep things brief and not try to accomplish too much in one message. You are likely wanting to introduce yourself, explain a little bit about why you are reaching out/wanting to connect, and asking for the opportunity to continue the dialogue over e-mail or in a career conversation. Keep in mind that this dialogue is not all about you, and you will want to acknowledge that you are aware that they are likely busy but explain how their insights might be helpful. Be sure to ask them questions in a way that invites them to reflect but are direct enough that they can be answered easily.

TalentEgg
Read about 3 great reasons new grads should pursue an Insurance career here!

Anna
Do you need to have a business degree to apply for a job in insurance?

Hi Anna – thanks for your question! As insurance is the third pillar of the financial services sector, it can often be easy to assume that a business background is what is required to join the sector. And, while it is definitely applicable, it is by no means that only background employers are interested in. Insurance is a part of nearly everything we do in life and in business… so, we need people from diverse backgrounds. Arts, Science, Engineering, Computer Science, Law, etc. are all applicable. Check out the Your Education section on our website for more details.

TalentEgg
It looks like we have time for a couple more questions!

Preye
I graduated with an honours degree in economics but I am finding it hard to find a job in my field. What type of jobs am I eligible for?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Preye – thanks for your question! Economics is a broad discipline that exposes you to a lot of great concepts in business operations, finance, and planning. These can absolutely have applicability in the insurance sector – particularly if you couple them with analytical skills and good communication. You might find it interesting to explore career paths in underwriting, risk management, or if you particularly enjoyed the mathematical models involved in economics, actuarial.

Muhammad, a Process Engineering major at Memorial University of Newfoundland asks:
“Are there career opportunities in insurance for engineers?”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Muhammad – that is a great question, thank you! Engineers can definitely find their place in our industry. It might be a place that their career evolves to after a few years of engineering practice or something that they got into right out of school… But, the areas that you might want to consider connecting to include Risk Management or a Loss Control Specialist (spotting trouble before it happens), Claims Investigation (this might involve accident reconstruction, causation analysis, etc.) or appraising (determining the true value of something – if you have experience building it, you likely also understand how complicated/cost efficient/easy it will be to restore or repair it).

Mikayla, a Marketing major at Carleton University asks:
“Are there internships or short-term contracts abroad? (Europe, UK, Australia)”

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections Program Manager
Mikayla – yes, many insurance organizations in Canada have global parents. In fact, Europe is where insurance got its start… but, of course, it has spread all over the world. You will want to do some research on how insurance works in each country and the key players in the sector. But, yes, there is definite possibility to live and work abroad in the insurance sector.

TalentEgg
That’s all the time we have for today! Thanks everyone for your egg-cellent questions.

I think we covered a ton of ground today – hopefully you’ve all taken away some useful information about some of the awesome career opportunities in Insurance.

A very special thanks to our guest today – the past hour just flew by! Do you have any final advice to give our students and grads?

If you’re looking for more info on Career Connections, be sure to explore their Employer Page on TalentEgg. You’ll find job postings, articles, and more!

Thanks again for joining us, TalentEgg-ers. Have an egg-cellent day!

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