When it comes to insurance, the industry is constantly changing and evolving with new technologies, trends, and innovations. Hatching a successful career in this industry means you need to have the flexibility to take on new challenges and adapt to changing circumstances.
Gone are the days of needing only technical skills to launch your career. What is needed now more than ever to help you stand out from the crowd and establish your career brand as an early career insurance professional are Workplace Critical Skills! Not too sure what Workplace Critical Skills are or how they play a role? Read on!
Since there’s so much valuable information to absorb, we’ll be breaking down what exactly Workplace Critical Skills are and how you can acquire and develop them in a two-part series. Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week!
Part 1 – What Exactly Are Workplace Critical Skills?
Workplace Critical Skills in the insurance industry can essentially be broken down into three categories: Core Skills, Analytical & Decision Making Skills, and Innovation & Leadership Skills. We’ll dig a little bit deeper in a minute, but first, it’s important to know that we aren’t just making up a list of skills. These are the in-demand skills identified by the HR professionals and Business Leaders who were surveyed as a part of the Insurance Institute of Canada’s latest Demographic Research.
Second, we wanted to note three things to help you better understand Workplace Critical Skills and how you can get them:
- Most workplace critical skills are rooted in professional attributes, reading social cues, and how we leverage interpersonal relationships effectively to help us achieve success in our work.
- They can be acquired in multiple ways. For example, they can be developed in our volunteer work or community involvement, on sports teams or in student clubs, in school – especially when working in groups, or in our previous work experience.
- They’re transferable – meaning that we can leverage them in a variety of contexts and situations. That’s what makes Workplace Critical Skills so great. They follow you throughout your career and can be enhanced each time you have the opportunity to use them!
Now back to those categories… What kinds of skills fall within them and how might they apply in the insurance industry?
Under this first category, there are four key skills: customer service, communication, teamwork & creativity, and flexibility & adaptability. No matter what role in the insurance industry you are interested in, these skills will come in handy and will enable you to work in a variety of contexts.
For example, customer service skills are needed in roles like being a Broker, Underwriter, or Claims Professional. Brokers may leverage them to educate a client about the rate and premium they need to pay or to show them the value in a particular type of insurance. Underwriters will build effective relationships with Brokers/Agents to help better understand their clients’ needs and put together the best coverage possible. Claims Professionals may need effective customer service skills to defuse a potentially tense situation and explain what will be covered under a customer’s policy in the event of a claim.
Can you think of examples when you’ve had to use any of the skills above? Have you ever worked on a group project where you had to apply teamwork, communication, and creativity in order to be successful? What about a time you had to help someone else in an efficient and professional manner? Have you written documents or delivered presentations for a wide array of audience? When applying to a position in insurance, it is better to give examples and evidence of these skills rather than simply stating that you have them. Keep all of these examples in your back pocket when crafting your resume and cover letter and for your interview!
Analytical & Decision Making Skills
The keys to success in this category are problem-solving, critical thinking, and business intelligence. Business intelligence, which is all about the strategies and technologies used for data analysis, is an in-demand skill in the insurance industry today. This skill helps Actuaries, Underwriters, Data Scientists and Risk Managers make data-informed decisions that can have an impact on the bottom line of the business and overall service experience for the customer.
Insurance professionals often need to think critically about each scenario or issue that is in front of them. Whether it is assessing risk as a Loss Control Specialist, looking into the validity of an insurance claim as a Claims Investigator, or making a recommendation to a client as an Agent, you simply can’t rely on gut instinct. It is vital that you make an informed decision or generate an approach to a problem that you can easily explain to your boss, colleagues, or customers if needed.
Can you think of a time where you analysed data or information to help you make a decision? What kinds of data were you looking at, and what was your overall decision? What level of analysis did you do? What made you ultimately feel confidence in your approach or the conclusion you reached? Once again, it is important to evidence or demonstrate these skills to a potential employer
Take Some Time to Absorb
Now that you have a thorough breakdown of two out of the three categories, take some time to really absorb and think about the information above. Write out and make notes about situations where you’ve used or developed these skills. If you don’t have them yet, research ways you can get out there and start! Check back in a few days to see if your research matches our tips for acquiring and developing Workplace Critical Skills. Plus don’t forget to check out Part 2 of our Workplace Critical Skills You Need to Succeed in Insurance where we explore Innovation & Leadership Skills, and do a deep dive into: leadership, management, innovation, and technological literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), which can all be critical for a successful career in Insurance. Stay tuned!