When writing your resume, what’s your ultimate goal? To get a job?
If that’s the case, then you probably have the wrong purpose in mind.
Your resume is just one of many steps you may take toward getting an insurance job. The real goal of that piece of paper should be to get an interview with the employer.
After all, your resume is simply an opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential employer and, for the first time, draw their attention to your education, qualifications and experience. Your resume should also demonstrate how you meet the employer’s needs and are the best candidate for the specific position that you are applying for.
Before you start
Sure, it’s easy to whip up a resume and fire off a dozen or so job applications each day. You might think that the numbers will be on your side, but the truth is employers notice when you do this. Before applying for any insurance job:
- Learn more about the insurance industry
- Research each company and job carefully
- Make connections at insurance industry events and online, and try to set up informational interviews
- Develop a strategy for responding to the needs of the hiring manager
- Create a unique resume for each job you apply for
Insurance resume dos and don’ts
- Keep it concise – no more than one or two pages
- Make it easy to read – use at least 10 pt font
- Use either a chronological (reverse timeline) or functional (experience-based) format
- Put your name and contact information front and centre on all pages, including a professional email address (e.g., email@example.com) and phone number with voicemail
- Include an objective and a professional summary, plus details about your education and work and volunteer history
- Use industry-specific slang, jargon or acronyms if you can avoid it
- Include references to your age, gender, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation, sexual orientation or Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Forget to include accomplishments rather than tasks
How to write a resume objective
Including an objective on your resume tells an insurance employer that you know what you want and it’s applicable to the role they’re hiring for.
You can simply state the job title you are applying for, or you may include attributes you are looking for as well as the desired type of work (e.g., part-time, full-time, etc.) in your objective. For example:
Dynamic, detail-oriented and resourceful professional seeking a full-time position in underwriting.
How to write a professional summary
Your professional summary is kind of like a highlight reel briefly showcasing who you are and what you have to offer. Within four to six brief bullet points, a professional summary can include:
- A statement of your career so far
- Educational highlights, including post-secondary education and any other credentials or certificates you may have earned
- Relevant skills and accomplishments
- Technological proficiency, such as computer programs
Education and professional designations
Whether you put your education at the very top or below your work and volunteer experience, be sure to emphasize any classes and coursework that are related to the job you’re applying for as well as the insurance industry. This is especially important if you’re a student or recent graduate with little or no industry experience.
Bonus: Have you recently completed or are you currently pursuing insurance education or licences? Are you the recipient of any academic award? Put the spotlight on them in this section to really impress a potential employer.
Work and volunteer experience
Forget about listing everything you’ve ever done – that’s so high school. Only include work and volunteer experience that is relevant to the insurance job you wish to be hired for and speaks to the employer’s needs for that role.
Once you’ve hand-picked those experiences, include just two or three bullet-point statements about each experience. Again, these statements should be relevant to your job goal and the employer’s needs, and they should also be accomplishment-based rather than task-based.
What does that mean exactly? Don’t just tell them what you did – tell them how you did it and the results you achieved in your role. Quantify these results and be sure to not leave anything to the employer’s imagination. For example:
Customer Service Representative April 2011 to present
Bank of Nova Scotia Vancouver, BC
- Assisted 50+ customers per day with the completion of routine and business banking transactions including deposits, bill payment and funds transfer; received a rating of ‘exceeds expectations’ in service delivery
- Ensured compliance with Canadian Banking Association standards and guidelines in record keeping and database administration; received rating of 98% on audit of transaction records
Rather than simply stating that you provided customer service, this example gets much more specific by answering the following questions:
- How many customers did you interact with?
- What did you help them with?
- What systems, programs, tools or processes did you use?
- Were your customers or employer satisfied with the level of service you provided? How do you know?
Before you apply for a job
Even if you think your resume is 100% ready to go, it doesn’t hurt to have another pair of eyes give it a quick once-over. If you can, work with a career counselor or industry professional to polish your master resume first, and then ask friends or family members to proof-read your applications before you submit them.
Not enough time? Read your resume out loud and compare it, line by line, to the job you’re applying for.