Office Hours: Learn About Careers In The Insurance Industry With Career Connections

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November 28th was an egg-citing day at TalentEgg: we hosted Office Hours with Career Connections, a division of the Insurance Institute dedicated to career awareness and education in the insurance industry. Office Hours is an hour-long live chat with representatives from top employers for TalentEgg members.

Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections’ Program Manager, answered students’ questions regarding the many career opportunities in insurance, finding the right career for you, and what employers in the insurance industry look for in potential candidates!

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

TalentEgg Hayley:

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

Our eggs-pert guest today is Trevor Buttrum from Career Connections, a career awareness and insurance education program that is a division of the Insurance Institute. Trevor is Career Connections’ Program Manager.

Over the next hour, you can send Trevor your questions about career opportunities in the insurance industry, learn how to stand out to recruiters and get tips for successfully hatching a career in insurance. You can start submitting your questions now.

Trevor, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Hi everyone – Thanks so much to TalentEgg for hosting this session. Career Connections is all about introducing students and career seekers to the wide variety of pathways available in the insurance industry.

I and my colleagues are responsible for spreading this message on campuses and in communities across the country! I am egg-cited to be here and answer your questions about the rewarding options available in this vital and stable sector.

TalentEgg Hayley:

Thanks Trevor! Alright, let’s get started with some questions then!

Monika Patel, a History major from York University asks: What are the top 3 qualifications insurance firms are looking for in a candidate?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Good question Monika. It can vary from insurance organization to insurance organization and of course, from role to role. That said, some common characteristics that insurance employers are looking for include curiosity, commitment to excellence and a willingness to continually learn and expand your knowledge.

TalentEgg Hayley:

Great, thanks!

Vivian, an Economics and International Development student from the University of Toronto asks: What are the entry level jobs that are available in the insurance industry?

Trevor – Career Connections:

There are a number of different roles available in Canada’s property & casualty insurance industry. These range from Brokers to Claims, to Actuaries, to Risk Managers.

Typical entry level roles include things like Customer Service Representative (if you are interested in sales), Underwriting Assistant, Junior Claims Adjuster, Risk Analyst, and more.

TalentEgg Hayley:

Further to that, Jasper Ty, a Business Administration student from Concordia University, asks: What are the different qualifications for different insurance positions?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Good follow-up, Jasper. Again, this will depend on the role or area of the business that you are most interested in. I am going to encourage you all to take our quiz on our site to help you narrow down and  start to explore which roles might be of most interest to you.

Our web site – www.career-connections.info – has a lot of really great information including typical entry level job titles for each area of the business. And, you’ll notice, we haven’t even talked about the opportunities in Accounting, Marketing, HR or IT.

That said, typical qualifications are an undergraduate diploma or degree with some work or volunteer experience related to the industry. You may also consider taking some insurance specific courses (either at your institution or through the Insurance Institute –www.insuranceinstitute.ca) to demonstrate your interest and commitment to the industry.

If there is a specific area of the industry you are interested in, let me know and I can get more specific.

Comment From Sunny

Do insurance companies ever have any internships or co-ops that I can do while I’m still a student, or just entry-level jobs for fresh grads?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Sunny – you have asked a question which is surfacing more and more from students looking for an entry point into the industry.

The answer is yes. There are a number of companies that offer co-op, internship or summer opportunities for students. These are advertised on your institution’s website or on the company websites themselves.

You can find a list of 150+ insurance companies on our site to help get you started in your research.

Also a number of companies offer trainee or new grad hire programs. These can be great starting points for your career in the sector!

TalentEgg Hayley:

You can also check out all of the insurance jobs currently on TalentEgg to see what positions are available.

Trevor – Career Connections:

Great point Hayley!

Comment From Ashley

I’m studying marketing right now – what kind of marketing jobs are available in the insurance industry?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Ashley – a background in marketing can apply to many roles in the sector. Marketing Representative is a main one, or if you enjoy the more entrepreneurial side of marketing in combination with sales, Broker.

Insurance organizations also have marketing teams which promote their brands to consumers and to the business community. You may have noticed that insurance employers are sponsors of events on campus, in your community or for your favourite sporting/cultural events.

TalentEgg Hayley:

Thanks Trevor! Here’s another question that was submitted in advance:

Michael Cormack, an HBA student from Western University, asks: Are there any finance-related careers in the insurance industry?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Be sure to read the full occupational profile of each of these roles on our site.

Insurance is the third pillar of the financial services sector – along with Banking and Investment/Wealth Management. So yes, there are definitely roles where a finance background would be applicable.

Underwriters accept and reject risk on-behalf of insurance companies. They require strong analytical skills and in some cases, business acumen, to support them in putting policies into place and working to determine the premium to be paid for that insurance product.

Risk Managers may be asked to develop business continuity plans or work to assign true value to an organization’s or individuals’ assets.

Not to mention, the investment and accounting positions needed to ensure the smooth operations of the business and that there is enough capital on-hand to pay out in the event of a claim.

Comment From Ashley

You mentioned Broker as a good job for people with marketing degrees. What do Brokers do in their day-to-day role?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Brokers are responsible for helping individuals and businesses select the insurance products and services that meet their needs.

They represent multiple insurance companies, whereas, an insurance agent represents only the one they work for.

Therefore, they need to have a sound knowledge of the products available in the marketplace and present them to their clients in a way that is both meaningful and easy to understand.

They also need to build trust, rapport and a sound business reputation for the companies they represent, their own brokerage and to grow their client base.

TalentEgg Hayley:

Interesting! Here’s another great question that was submitted in advance:

Brian LeNguyen, a Business student from Wilfrid Laurier University, says: I am keen on becoming a Risk Manager, however many of the entry level insurance jobs I have seen so far are not clearly labelled as such. What would be a typical entry level role for someone pursuing a career as a Risk Manager in the insurance industry and which organizations would be offering this type of opportunity?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Risk Manager may be where your insurance career evolves to – and, there are a number of ways to get there.

For example, some may start out in a Broker/Agent role or as an Underwriter.

They may also start out as an assistant or analyst in the Risk Management department of the organization they work for.

We also see Risk Managers leverage subject matter expertise from another industry, such as Engineering, Environmental Assessment, Healthcare, Supply Chain Management, and so on.

TalentEgg Hayley:

I think this is a great time to take our poll!

What field in the insurance industry are you most interested in?

  • Sales & Marketing, where I can interact with people ( 22% )
  • Underwriting and Actuary roles, because I love working with data ( 11% )
  • Claims, so I can solve complex problems and help people ( 33% )
  • Risk Management, because I like developing long-term strategies ( 33% )

Trevor – Career Connections:

Looks like a pretty good mix online with us today!

Just goes to show you how diverse the opportunities are in the industry. 🙂

TalentEgg Hayley:

Indeed! And for those who don’t know yet, be sure to take the Career Connections aptitude quiz to see which insurance career is best suited to your skills and interests!

Nazia Iqbal, an Economics, Political Science and Management major from McGill University, asks: How relevant are soft skills in getting a job in the insurance industry?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Soft skills are applicable to all roles within the industry and our contacts in recruitment share that they definitely factor into their hiring decisions. Here are some examples:

Brokers have strong interpersonal skills, demonstrated ability to build and maintain relationships

Underwriters have good communicators (especially written), and strong analytical skills

Claims Reps are great listeners, and are able to make decisions based on the facts presented to them

Risk Managers are able to spot trouble before it happens, and are comfortable making recommendations and gaining decision support

You get the idea. 🙂

TalentEgg Hayley:

Thanks, I’m sure that will be really helpful to those who are trying to figure out the best insurance route for them!

Here’s another previously submitted question:

Vali Kam, a Statistics graduate with a minor in Actuarial Science from the University of Waterloo, says: I am a fresh graduate who recently graduated in October. I am looking for a job now. I have been sending out resumes and looking for any jobs that relate to my program. I’ve found out it’s hard to make an entry into this industry since most of the jobs require experience. Do you have any advice for me?

Trevor – Career Connections:

I think it is important to really look at transferable skills and experience that may not be directly in the insurance sector.

For example, participation in student organizations, research you have been involved with, and summer jobs likely have equipped you with a lot of skill sets that can help you stand out.

As well, you may find that networking and/or connecting with industry professionals can help you augment your application and become a known candidate to the recruiter/hiring manager.

Comment From Allison

What are some things I can do while still in school to make me a strong candidate for a career in insurance?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Allison – great question!

Think about the role you want and identify experiences that can help you grow your skills and capacity to help you get there!

Experience as a camp counsellor (incident reports, risk management), retail sales personnel (particularly if you were a key holder or prepared bank deposits), call centre representatives (listening, dispute resolution), mechanics, you name it – likely has ties to skills you can use in insurance.

Professional associations exist as well – consider taking a seminar, volunteering at their annual conference/convention, etc. These can be helpful steps as well to help set you apart!

Take advantage of every opportunity you have to connect with the insurance industry when they come to campus. They love to meet and connect with you! Also, check out the “Your Experience” section of our web site. This will give you lots of great tips of how your studies and work experience to date can apply to a career in the sector!

Comment From Jonathan Kamien

What positions in the insurance industry are complementary to a law degree?

Trevor – Career Connections:

Good question Jonathan.

Claims and Underwriting would have a strong connection to your law degree, particularly as they would look at where liability rests, the terms of the insurance policy (contract), and determine how to best settle things in the event of a claim.

Insurance law is also an interesting area of practice for many lawyers!

TalentEgg Hayley:

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 – Career Connections:

Thanks so much for taking the time to connect with me today and for all of the really great questions. I hope you found the session helpful and informative.

TalentEgg Hayley:

If you’re looking for more information about insurance careers, visit Career Connections’ TalentEgg profile or www.career-connections.info. Career Connections is your gateway to careers in insurance!

Trevor – Career Connections:

Many thanks and let us know if there is anything we can do to help you find your place in insurance – cconnections@insuranceinstitute.ca

TalentEgg Hayley:

Thanks Trevor! And thanks again for joining us today TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter feed for upcoming Office Hours events!

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