As a student or recent graduate who wants to hatch a career in insurance, it can be tempting to apply to any and all insurance employers that are hiring.
After all, you just need a job, right?
That may be true, but you also need to work for an employer that is a good fit for you and what you’re hoping to accomplish in your career.
Not every employer offers the same experience – especially to young professionals like you who may want a lot of training, mentorship and opportunities for advancement.
Here are five strategies for choosing the insurance employer that is right for you:
1. Company size
There are more than 200 employers in the insurance industry, some with more than 5,000 employees and some with as few as five employees. They operate in major cities, like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, and in small towns across the country.
Company size may be a consideration for you if you’re looking for a close-knit family environment (smaller) or the opportunity to work in a number of different departments and locations across the country over the course of your career (larger).
Where to find this information: Many insurance employers will mention how many employees they have on their TalentEgg profile, LinkedIn profile, or on their corporate website in the About Us or Careers sections.
2. Insurance niches
Insurance can cover everything from vehicles and homes to health and pets, casinos and churches, and everything in between. While many of the large insurance companies offer a wide variety of insurance policies, there are some that specialize in certain industries or types of risk.
If your experience, expertise or interest lies in one of those areas, it may help you narrow down which employer to start your career with.
Where to find this information: The National Insurance Marketer, published in print every July by Canadian Underwriter magazine and also available online, is designed to help Brokers look for markets for their specialty, niche and non-standard risks, but it can also be an invaluable resource for students and recent grads interested in learning more about the different insurance niches available. As they say, “From Aviation to Zebra Mussels …you’ll find it in the Insurance Marketer!”
3. Support for professional development
As an aspiring insurance professional, you’re probably eager to put a few letters after your name, such as CIP, CAIB or CRM, just to name a few (that’s Chartered Insurance Professional, Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker or Canadian Risk Management for those not in-the-know).
Perhaps you even want to pursue an MBA or post-graduate certificate related to insurance part-time while you work.
No matter what your professional development plans are, it’s essential that your employer is, at the very least, morally supportive of your endeavours because you may need flexible hours once or twice a week to make it to your evening classes on time, or time off to study for and write exams.
Don’t settle for the bare minimum if you don’t have to, though: many insurance employers also provide financial support to staff members who are pursuing relevant education or designations, and some may even be willing to work with you to ensure you’re getting the professional experience required for your designation of choice.
Where to find this information: The Career Connections website features a list of insurance employers that support the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) and Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP) designation programs, which is a good place to start. If you have others in mind, contact the organization or institution behind the program to see if they can help you determine which employers actively support their program. Also, don’t be afraid to ask employer representatives directly when you meet them on-campus, at industry events or during job interviews – your professional development is important!
4. Community work and social responsibility
At the end of the day, insurance companies are for-profit businesses and many of them are very profitable – it’s one of the reasons why the insurance industry is such a stable place to start a career.
Most insurance employers make it a priority to find ways to invest those profits back into the communities in which they operate through employee volunteer work, fundraising and charitable donations.
For example, State Farm supports the United Way by sending employees out to volunteer in their local communities, fundraising and creating awareness for the needs of local communities internally, and holding events such as the annual Dragon Boat Race to raise even more money. State Farm also supports a number of other organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Canadian Red Cross and Alberta’s Promise.
Where to find this information: On employer profiles on TalentEgg, look for tabs featuring words like “community,” “social,” “responsibility” and “giving back” – they’ll tell you about how employers are making a difference in the community and around the world. From there, check out the Corporate Social Responsibility or Community sections of companies’ websites, or find out which companies sponsor your favourite charities.
5. The people
Current employees are invaluable sources of information. After all, they already know exactly what it’s like to work for their employer and can tell you everything you won’t find in a job listing or corporate website. Plus, if you get along well with some of the people who already work there, chances are you’ll have no trouble fitting in!
Where to find this information: Meet one of more than 300 Career Connections Ambassadors on your campus or at insurance industry events across the country! These Ambassadors are real insurance professionals working for dozens of different employers who volunteer their time to speak with students about career opportunities in the industry.
Insurance is already part of everything you do.
Why not find your career in it? To learn more, visit www.career-connections.info.