Office Hours: Your Questions Answered about the Insurance Industry

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There are so many opportunities to hatch a meaningful career in Insurance!

On April 26th, we hosted our Office Hours event with Trevor Buttrum, Program Manager at Career Connections. We covered a variety of topics, including top roles in insurance, professional development, networking tips, interview tips, and more. If you could’t make the live event, we’re sharing the full chat below!

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

TalentEgg
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.

TalentEgg
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!

TalentEgg
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.

TalentEgg
Now let’s introduce our guest egg-spert!

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Hi everyone! I am so egg-cited to be here for today’s Office Hours! I am looking forward to some really egg-cellent questions and helping you to learn more about the wide array of options available in Canada’s property & casualty insurance industry!

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
I am the Manager, Career Connections here at the Insurance Institute. My role is to help career seekers like you to learn about and find your place in this vital, stable, and rewarding industry!

TalentEgg
Thank you so much Trevor! Here’s our first question.

Comment From Jessica from Ryerson University
What can I do to get involved or network as a student/young professional in Insurance?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Well, Jessica, a good starting place might actually be to first start with our recent article all about networking on TalentEgg.ca – It has some great tips and tricks to help get you started. I’d also invite you to check out the Career Connections job site – as well. We’ve got a few additional suggestions there as well.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
As you are based in TO, I’d also suggest checking out the Toronto Insurance Women’s Association, Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto (YIPT), and the Insurance Institute of Ontario – GTA Chapter. They offer networking events, learning opportunities, and opportunities to connect with industry professionals. Finally, depending on your area of interest in the industry (e.g. claims, broker, actuarial, risk management, etc.) you might also investigate the professional associations that host events and networking opportunities that are a part of that stream of the business.

Comment From Adrien from University of Toronto
How do you get into a first actuarial role without many coops prior?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Adrien – good question! I am going to assume that you have at least taken your P and/or FM exams. If this is not the case, I’d definitely start there! I would also suggest these couple of strategies: 1. Visit your Career Centre and inquire where alumni are working as Actuaries. If nothing else, this is a good starting place for potential informational interviews to inquire about how these professionals got their start in the sector. They can also be great starting points to identify firms that value the skills, knowledge, and experience that your program has to offer.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
2. Leverage LinkedIn to connect with actuaries and/or alumni who are working at insurance organizations you are interested in joining as an Actuary. This will help in setting up potential coffee chats to learn more about the corporate culture, how your skills might be a fit, and identify potential opportunities to keep an eye out for. 3. I’d also suggest connecting with the Actuarial associations (clubs on campus, Institute, relevant societies and their chapters) to start getting involved and connected. These relationships can help you to better understand the industry landscape and might even lead to some referrals to positions that could be a good fit for someone with your skills and experience.

Comment From Simaab from Concordia University
How to tackle situational question in an interview?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Simaab – I can appreciate how situational or behavioural questions can be intimidating at first. My preferred approach to these kinds of questions is to see candidates weave a story where they describe the Situation (5% of your answer), talk about their Tasks or role they played (15%), delve into their Action and responses to address the situation, solve the problem, set themselves up for success, etc. (70%) and share the Result (10%). This approach is commonly referred to as the STAR method.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
It can help to practice a few situational questions (sample questions are easily available from your Career Centre or on-line) to get comfortable with the approach. You don’t need to get too scripted, but it can also sometimes be helpful to jot down a few notes to help guide your answer to these kinds of questions. Simaab, I’d also suggest you check out articles we contributed to on ‘How to Ace Your Insurance Interview’.

Comment From Johnathan from Dalhousie
What are some of the professional development opportunities available in the insurance industry? Do employers pay for certifications?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Johnathan – There are an abundance of learning and professional development opportunities available in the insurance industry! For example, the Chartered Insurance Professional designation offered through the Insurance Institute of Canada. The vast majority of professionals earn these credentials and designations while they are working in the industry and with the support of their employer. Many employers also offer salary incentives for furthering your education and professional development. In addition to designations, there are also a number of ways to contribute as a subject matter expert, give back to your community, and share your experience as an industry professional with others.

TalentEgg
Wow, you guys are coming up with some egg-cellent questions! Keep them coming!

Comment From Felicia from Ryerson University
What would you do if you recently graduated and you don’t have the highest gpa to get a recent grad job?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Felicia, I’d say celebrate the fact that you graduated from post-secondary education and focus in on the skills, knowledge, and experiences you gained along the way. A high GPA and academic accolades are only one indicator of potential success in the workforce after graduation. And sure, it helps. But…honestly, in insurance, it is only one piece of the puzzle. There are many other ways to stand out to a potential employer.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Your skill set, demonstrating you are a good fit for the culture of the organization, and commitment to excellence in your work will also go a long way! In short, focus on your strengths and put your best foot forward…

Comment From Jennifer from University of Regina
What kind of opportunities are there in insurance who is still completing their undergraduate? Are there co-ops or part time work available?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Jennifer – Thanks for the question! Yes, some insurance employers offer part time and summer opportunities for students. Often those with large contact centres (don’t worry, it’s mostly all inbound!) in claims, sales, or underwriting have the greatest number of these types of opportunities available. Check out the websites (links to 150+ employers can be found on our jobsite) of companies in your area to see what might be available.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
With respect to co-op and internship, a growing of insurance organizations are offering these types of opportunities. I’d check in with your co-op or career centre to get a feel for where previous placements might have taken place as a starting point. I’d also suggest identifying a few potential organizations you’d like to work for and encourage your co-op coordinator to help you build a bridge to an opportunity if one doesn’t already exist.

Comment From Nana from University of Toronto
What are the key transferable skills gained as scientist that can be used in insurance industry?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Science is full of transferable skills that can be applied in a wide array of roles, Nana. Particularly, in insurance! Remember, it touches virtually everything we do in life and in business… so we need talented, creative and motivated people with a wide array of backgrounds. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest checking out the ‘Your Experience’ tab in the ‘Post-Secondary’ section of our website. Here, you will find some concrete examples of how a background in science might come in handy and can apply to various roles in the insurance industry.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Often, we find that the analytical skills, subject matter expertise, ability to take something that is complex and make it accessible to others, and attention to detail that often are developed as a part of post-secondary studies in science can be easily applied in the industry. I’d also suggest checking out the ‘Your Education’ tab as well. Here you can see some potential starting points for roles related to your studies that you might want to investigate as well.

TalentEgg
We’ve reached the halfway point in our chat, which means it’s time for a poll question!

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

  • Entry Level jobs (20%)
  • Growth Opportunities (20%)
  • Internships and Co-op programs (10%)
  • Application and interview tips (50%)

Comment From Ryan from Concordia
Do I need a post-grad degree to pursue a career in insurance? Would this help me get a job?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
You do not necessarily need a post-graduate degree to pursue a career in insurance, Ryan. However, education never hurt anyone. So, if it is your passion and something you were thinking about doing anyway, it might be worthwhile to you. There are some newly launched post-graduate certificate programs as well as diploma programs at colleges and universities across Canada that specialize in insurance. You can learn more by visiting our website. Again, not required, but could offer the opportunity to build your insurance knowledge prior to joining the industry.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
More often than not though, your post-secondary education and experience is enough to help you get connected to a role in the industry. From there, often with the support of your employer, you can work towards insurance designations, like the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) while you are working in your first roles in the industry. These designations equip you with the technical knowledge and expertise you require to excel in your insurance career.

Comment From Selena from University of Manitoba
What is a possible career path in insurance for an arts graduate?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Selena – Those with an Arts background have a lot of potential career paths to explore in the insurance industry. Again, because insurance is something that is such a big part of the world around us, the skills that an arts grad can bring to the table are highly valued by employers in the industry. For example, your communication and people skills might be applicable in a role as a Broker or Marketing Representative. Or, your writing, analysis, and decision-making skills might come in handy as an Underwriter. if you studied something like psychology or social work, your desire to help people through a situation or crisis could be highly applicable in the claims environment. I’d invite you to check out the ‘Your Experience’ tab in the Post-Secondary section of our website. Here you’ll find a couple of really nice examples of how your skills might apply to various roles in the industry. The ‘Your Education’ tab may also have some good starting points for you as well. Hope that helps!

Rahim from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
How do you get entry level jobs in insurance as an underwriter?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Rahim – first, learn as much as you can about the underwriter role and how your background will set you up for success in this area of the insurance industry. Check out the Career Profile here. TalentEgg Day in a Life profiles in the Insurance Career Guide might also be helpful here! You might want to explore which companies are a good fit for what you are looking for in an employer and handle the types of risks that are of interest to you. LinkedIN, leveraging the Career Connections Job Site and its links to 150+ employers, and networking can be great ways to achieve this.

Comment From Devi
Sometimes it’s just not possible to get everything on your to-do list done. Tell me about a time your responsibilities got a little overwhelming. What did you do?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Devi – thanks for this question! There are definitely times when you my to-do list fills more than a couple of pages in a notepad or is too long for task list in the apps I like to use to manage it. This requires me to set priorities and have frank conversations with those who are expecting something from me or require my input to move things forward. Together we determine what is required in the shortest time frame and where my focus will be best placed. Then, I start to chunk the work into smaller, more manageable pieces. This helps to make it feel less overwhelming and to keep me in control of how I would like to handle it all. A deep breath, rewarding myself for jobs well done (whether with a break, a walk, time with friends, a beverage of choice, etc…), and keeping a sense of humour also help. The main thing is to give yourself permission to stop when you have achieved all you can manage for the day. It will still be there and as long as expectations have been managed appropriately, you will come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to face the next ‘chunk’ of tasks.

TalentEgg
Some really great questions here! Keep them coming!

Comment From Christina from Laurier
Which soft skills should I highlight on my resume?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Soft Skills, or as I like to call them, Workplace Critical Skills are a great thing to reference and draw upon in your accomplishment statements on your resume. They are also great to leverage in an interview, as they are often what help us show how we would be a good fit for particular role, team, or corporate culture. What is unique about insurance, is that because each of the operational roles can be so distinct (think Broker vs. being an Actuary) the workplace critical skills you might want to focus on will be different depending on the role. So, it is first a good idea to have identified a potential job goal and understand what is required in that role to help you decide how to frame your skills, experiences, etc. on your resume. That being said, communication, analytical/critical thinking skills, problem solving, curiosity, resourcefulness, and teamwork are usually pretty safe bets to be on an employer’s list of skills they are looking for in a candidate.

Comment From Marcus from University of Waterloo
What kind of tech jobs are available in insurance companies?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Marcus – technology is an in-demand area in the insurance sector – particularly in the areas of data analytics, business analysis, and building solutions that fit the needs of the InsureTech space. As well, tech expertise plays a role in understanding the risks that the industry is insuring as well. For example, cyber security or 3-D printing.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Tech-based roles are emerging areas of the industry and each company has its own approach for how it is going about sourcing this talent. I’d invite you to visit our job site and leverage the site itself, along with the links to 150+ employers’ sites to help you get started! You might also find it useful to keep your ear to the ground for InsureTech events, check out the digital garages and innovation hubs within insurance companies themselves and in your areas to keep current on trends in the space, and to utilize LinkedIn to explore roles and build connections in areas of interest to you.

Comment From Emma
What kinds of roles does Career Connections hire for? I am a recent marketing graduate and I would love to know more about the kinds of opportunities you have. Thanks!

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Emma – Thanks for your interest! The Career Connections team is comprised of marketing & communications professionals, career counsellors, and those with industry experience. That said, we are a small team, so do not always have opportunities that we are specifically recruiting for. That said, we are a Division of the Insurance Institute of Canada – the education and designation body for the p & c insurance industry in Canada. And, sometimes, we (as the Institute) are hiring for our Member Services, Marketing & Communications, Programs, Examinations, IT, Accounting and Institute-Chapter teams. Keep an eye on our website, CharityVillage, TalentEgg.ca, and other job sites.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Also, the industry as a whole would highly value your background and experience in our roles for Marketing Representatives, those in Business Development, on our communications teams, and as part of the Sales force. Check out the job site to get started!

TalentEgg
We have time for a few more questions – ask away!

Comment From Derek from McGill
What position is in high demand in insurance?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Derek – the short answer is all of them. 25,000+ industry professionals are eligible to retire by 2022. That’s a big chunk of the 120,000 Canadians working in p & c insurance. So, we need talented, creative, and motivated people to help meet the talent needs of the future. That said, simply because there are more of them, Brokers, Underwriters, and Claims Professionals tend to be where the majority of employer needs are. Particularly those who are open to working in commercial or specialty areas of the business lines of their insurance organization.

Comment From Rabia from U of T
If I don’t have any experience in the insurance industry, what is the best position to apply for?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Rabia – I hope that the key takeaway from today’s conversation is that you do not necessarily need insurance education or experience to join the industry. In fact, the insurance industry is known for embracing the skills, experiences, and educational backgrounds from a variety of areas as the nature of the business is so varied and diverse.

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
In short, the best position to apply for is one that aligns to who you are, what you are good at, and what you value when it comes to your career. If you are unsure about which area of the industry could be a potential starting point, I’d invite you to take our quiz. It could be helpful in narrowing it down a little bit and helpful as it gives you potential roles to explore in greater detail. Hope that is helpful to you!

Comment From Sohail from University of Guelph
What does a typical day look like for an entry level job in insurance?

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Sohail – that’s actually a tough question! Why? First, it depends on the role. And, second, most industry professionals will tell you that no two days are really the same! It may sound a little cliché! But, it is true!! Each role in the industry is unique and offers the opportunity for you to steer your career in the direction you want to go. And, while elements of your day may be similar, the people you interact with or risks that you will be working with can vary greatly. Essentially, industry professionals tell us they don’t get bored and are always encountering new situations, challenges, and rewards in their day-to-day work. That being said, I’d invite you to learn more about the roles that are interesting to you to better understand what’s involved and the typical things you would be responsible for in that area of the industry. More information and tools to help you explore the industry in greater detail can be found on our website.

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

TalentEgg
We hope you’ve all taken away some useful information about some of the awesome career opportunities in the Insurance industry!

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

Comment From Career Connections – Trevor Buttrum
Thanks for an egg-ceptional Office Hours everyone! Check us out on Facebook and Twitter, visit our website, and of course, visit our profile right here on TalentEgg.ca. Let’s keep the conversation going! Thanks again and best of luck to you all!

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


Learn more about Career Connections and hatch your career in insurance today!

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About the author

Stephanie Davis Stephanie Davis is a Content and Marketing Coordinator with TalentEgg. Stephanie graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Arts and Contemporary Studies and has two Professional Certificates in Strategic Public Relations and Online Social Media & Web Writing from the University of Toronto. She has a passion for storytelling, whether it's through words, pictures, or song! Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.