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Insurance Career Advice – What Do Employers Want?

Thinking of joining the Insurance Industry? Read this to know every aspect of Insurance as a Career.

I wrote an insurance career guide for Insuranceopedia a while back on the different insurance careers and how to get them. Today, I wanted to share with you the results of recent interviews conducted with some of the recruiters and hiring managers that are friends of PNC Learning.

To gather this data, we asked each of them a very simple question: “what do you look for in a new hire?” Hopefully some of these insights here will help you determine what type of insurance career is the right fit for you.

Speaking with our highly qualified sources (contact details below) there were a few things that came up time and time again:

SALES & CUSTOMER SERVICE

In this area, hiring managers and brokerage owners are looking for someone with either proven sales and customer service experience. If you don’t have any direct insurance experience (which you likely won’t since you aren’t licensed yet) you’ll need to show that you have some previous experience working in a sales role of a consultative customer service role.

Another important quality is calmness. Douglas Bowman a Director at Insure Alberta said that he looks for brokers who can “keep calm and problem solve for customers. This is important as it gives customers a sense that we are a professional office and if we don’t have all the answers now, we’re going to find out for them.

ADMINISTRATION & COMPUTER SKILLS

Many of our respondents also said computer skills were an important element of the job. Now don’t panic! They’re not asking for anything advanced but on the job, you’ll need to work with different broker and portal systems and training will be provided.

“We work more and more every day with insurer portals and having someone who is a quick learner on computer and has a good understanding of Microsoft office is very sought after.”

So if you have worked a job before where you had to learn a new computer system (ie. in retail) and can use Microsoft Word, you will have no problems here. They key is to be able to demonstrate that you have experience in this area.

Another hiring manager says to “be proactive [and] take additional courses i.e.: Excel, PowerPoint, outlook – great options on LinkedIn learning.”

PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE

Candidates need to know the insurance product. Sometimes we have to get creative to insuring ‘out of the box risks’ and knowing your wordings and how a coverage can apply to a particular situation is valuable.

This is what the insurance courses and exams are supposed to help you with. Inside the course, you’ll learn about the different insurance products, what they do/don’t cover and when they could be used to help protect a client.

There will be a lot of on-the-job training in this area as well but if you can pass the licensing exam, you have already demonstrated this important quality. Make sure you also find a way to demonstrate this during your interview process!

ATTITUDE!

This is what everyone considered their most important thing.

“The number one thing we look for when hiring new brokers is attitude. You can teach skill but you can’t teach personality.” says Kristen Luu (Manager @ BrokerLink).

Some of the qualities they look for are:

  • Alertness
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Being friendly
  • Critical thinking
  • Bonus is having their license

The moral of the story is that if you have your license and a good attitude, you’ll have no problem finding a job. All good brokerages will provide training to give you all the other required skills. They KNOW that you don’t have insurance experience and they’re prepared to help you grow and learn.

Also, make sure you research the organization you are applying at. “Know about them, how they became/what is their vision (and does it align with yours).”

The final tip in this area is to dress for success. Every office is different – some are more casual while others are more serious. Here is some advice from Sue about this:

“Employers now have adapted to the ‘corporate casual’ where we are not required to wear suits/ties/blazers etc. – but keep it professional and no open toed shoes”

FIND YOUR INSURANCE CAREER

When you are just starting out, nobody has any insurance industry experience because you’re not even licensed yet. So how do you show that you are “experienced?”

The key is to show (on your resume, cover letter, and in your interview) that you have a track record or work history where you had to use and develop some of these key skills.

Now, if you only have a few (or none) of these skills listed above, does that mean there’s no place for you in the insurance industry? Absolutely not! There are a ton of different career paths and positions within this industry to suit all types of people.

Don’t like sales? Work as a marketer/processor helping the sales people get quotes from insurance companies.

Don’t like paperwork? No problem, work as a producers/salesperson and do what you do best – building relationships.

Prefer to work a more stable office job? No problem, you can work inside the office helping walk-in customers.

These are just some examples of the many insurance careers available to you in this diverse industry. But what happens if you don’t get hired right now? Sue Bernard (Senior Advisor, Learning & Development @ Westland Insurance Group) says that is not a problem. Her advice is to be patient but persistent.

“The employer may not be hiring now, but if you are persistent and continue to educate yourself – this looks great”

HOW CAN I GET A JOB IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?

In addition to providing exam preparation training, we also help our students find jobs afterwards. We have a strong network in the insurance industry and we know what hiring managers are looking for.

Here are some of the things we can do to help you:

  • Referrals to hiring managers and other brokerages within our network
  • Resume and cover letter reviews
  • Placement advice
  • Interview prep
  • Career planning

Students of our programs get all this – and more!

INSURANCE CAREER GUIDE SOURCES

DOUGLAS BOWMAN, CAIB – DIRECTOR @ INSURE ALBERTA INSURANCE SERVICES

FRANCIS RUIZ – PRESIDENT @ INSURANCE CAREER NETWORK

KRISTEN LUU, CAIB, CIP – PERSONAL INSURANCE MANAGER @ BROKERLINK

SUE BERNARD, CAIB – SENIOR ADVISOR, LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT @ WESTLAND INSURANCE GROUP