Finding an Insurance Job

Insurance jobs can be very exciting. The right job can offer job security, handsome pay and incentives, and opportunities for advancement.

For you to join the ranks of the 2.247 million Americans who are employed by the trillion-dollar insurance industry in 2009, you have to first land a job.

No matter what position you seek in insurance, your employer will be looking for a couple of key skills. They will want to know that you are trustworthy and able to keep client information confidential. They will also want to discover whether you have good communication and interpersonal skills, and a desire to help clients achieve financial stability.

The most effective ways to seek employment in insurance are networking, and using the Internet.

There are a number of networking associations that exclusively serve the insurance industry. However, insurance professionals are always looking for new customers, and therefore are actively involved in all types of community organizations. If you are serious about pursuing a career in insurance, you may want to take part in community organizations and networking groups and let your interest be known to others.

The Internet can help uncover employment opportunities. In addition to the popular online job search engines like Monster, Career Builder, and Simply Hired, there are a number of sites that cater specifically to insurance. The following are specialized sites for those seeking insurance careers:

In addition, most insurance companies, agencies, and brokerages post open positions on their websites.

Resumes

With competition for open insurance careers as fierce as it is in the current labor market, the importance of an attention-grabbing resume cannot be overestimated.

A resume gives a perspective employer a sense of who you are and what you have achieved from academic, professional, and social perspectives. It should also give the employer a sense of what you might be able to accomplish if you were to be employed.

There is no need to spend a great deal of time on the formatting on your own. Most commonly used word processing systems provide resume templates. In addition, samples are available for free online. Use a previously formatted template and spend the time perfecting your content. Make sure it is accurate, neat, and error free.




Your resume should contain the following information:

  • Contact information: List current name, address, and email address. Make sure you use an email address that is appropriate for employers. For example, many individuals have catchy nicknames that are acceptable for friends, but may undermine credibility (e.g., cutiepie123@yahoo.net). Also, if you have multiple email or phone numbers, make sure the one given is frequently monitored for activity.
  • Summary: In this section, highlight your career accomplishments and indicate why you would be a good candidate for the sought after position. Include industry buzzwords to let the prospective employer know of your knowledge of insurance hot buttons.
  • Experience: The focus in this section should be on the results you have achieved in your prior employment history. Cite all major accomplishments in each position and include any resulting promotions or awards. As with the summary section, you should include industry specific examples and language if possible.
  • Education: List all the degrees you have obtained, including the name of the institution, the degree granted, your area of concentration, and the year awarded. If your grade point average was impressive or you earned any academic awards, you should include that information as well.
  • Professional designation: Include the full names of all professional certifications and designations, as well as the years they were obtained.
  • Activities: Your active participation in networking groups and trade associations should be included in this section. Make note of any leadership positions held.
  • Community involvement: This is the section of your resume where you can describe outside interest and activities. It is also an excellent place to demonstrate leadership skills. Therefore, if you have coached teams, served as a volunteer at a soup kitchen, or led a Parent-Teacher’s Association, note it here. The prospective employer will look in this section for clues as to what is important to you as an individual.

Interview

A twenty- to thirty-minute job interview can change the course of your career and your life. This is amount of time an interviewer will typically dedicate to an applicant to determine whether he or she is a good fit for the position and the company.

The labor market is tight. Many qualified insurance professionals have lost their jobs as a result of expense reduction programs. Competition for open positions is fierce. A resume or a referral might get you in the door, but your ability to impress the interviewer is what will move you to the next phase in the employment process.

For many positions, interviews are a phased process. Based on a review of resumes, a pool of candidates is called in to meet with an interviewer. The pool is then narrowed to only the most qualified of candidates. Those individuals are brought back for second interviews with the individuals or team that they would be working closely with, if hired.

Each stage of the process is necessary, and every interview is as important as the last.

The following are a few pointers for job interviews for insurance positions:

Finding an Insurance Job
  • Arrive on time: Always allow yourself some extra time to arrive for an interview. You would not want a routine mishap to make you late. Tardiness can spoil an interviewer’s first impression of you.
  • Dress appropriately: The safest choice when it comes to interviewing for an insurance career is to dress conservatively. Even though many employers have adopted a business casual or casual dress code in the workplace, it is still appropriate to dress more traditionally for an interview. Also, do not let it concern you if you are more "dressed up" than the interviewer. You are there to make an impression.
  • Be prepared: Do advanced research on the company before going to an interview. Learn as much as you can about the products they sell and how they measure up to the competition in their respective field.
  • What does insurance mean to you? In advance of the interview, think about how insurance touches your life and what it means to you. This will help you in coming across as authentic and genuinely appreciative of the value of insurance.
  • Offer concrete examples. Let the interviewer know what you have accomplished and how you went about achieving those results.
  • Engage in a two-way conversation. It is as important for you to determine whether the position and company are right for you as it is for the interviewer to assess whether you are a good fit for it. Be prepared to ask questions of your own. The questions should be focused on the nature of the position and not on the pay and benefits. Salary discussions should be reserved for later in the process.
  • Be professional and courteous to everyone with whom you interact. It is not at all uncommon for security personnel and receptionists to weigh in on candidates, particularly if they have been offended in any way. The interview process starts the moment you arrive at the prospective employer’s property. Make sure all of your interactions are professional and courteous.

References

In your search for insurance jobs, you are likely to be asked for job references. References are people who will speak well of your skills and abilities, and vouch for you.

References are third-party endorsements, and they can either help you get a job or be the primary reason you lost out to someone else. The best candidates to serve as references for you include:

  • Former managers or supervisors
  • Former team members, clients, or others with experience working with you
  • Community or political leaders that have had some professional dealings with you
  • Former professors

The references you choose should have a favorable impression of you and a desire to see you succeed. These individuals should be able to validate your skills, abilities, experiences, and work ethic.

The quality of your references is important. For example, a potential employer will not give as much credence to a friend, relative, or teacher as they will a colleague from the insurance industry.

Always let your references know that you are going to use their names with prospective employers. The individuals you choose as references should be your advocates. Keep them up-to-date with respect to your employment searches. Let them know the companies you are interviewing with, people you are meeting, and the types of positions you are considering. This background information will enable them to provide relevant background to prospective employers. Also, they might even have a connection at the company you are courting.

Make sure your references have a current version of your resume. This will help refresh their recollection of your accomplishments when prospective employers call.

In addition to asking permission from your references, you should also verify how they would most like to be contacted. Is there a certain time of the day they are more likely to be available to talk to prospective employers? Should prospective employers call them on their cell phone, work line, or at home? Would they prefer email? Always keep in mind that the reference is doing you a favor. You should try to make the experience as unobtrusive as possible for them.

Under certain circumstances, you may want to request that someone write a letter of recommendation for you. The letter can stand alone as a reference or contain an invitation to contact the sender for additional information. A letter of recommendation is often used when the person is difficult to get in touch with, such as a former manager who is now retired.

The letter of recommendation should be as specific as possible with respect to your character, abilities, and accomplishments.

Finally, make sure to formally thank those who served as references for you. If you know that the reference has been called upon, drop a card in the mail, make a phone call, or send an email letting them know how grateful you are for their support. You never know when you might need their endorsement again!

Screening Process

Individuals pursuing insurance careers must be prepared to have many aspects of their lives scrutinized in the employment process.

During the past ten years, the financial services industry (of which insurance is a part) has been significantly impacted by employment screening regulations. Sarbanes-Oxley, the US Patriot Act, and the FDIC all offer guidelines with respect to employment screening of personnel working in financial services fields. As a result, before hiring, certain insurance companies conduct background checks on prospective employees. These background checks are an effort to reduce exposure to money laundering, terrorist financing, embezzlement, and accounting fraud.

In addition to meeting regulatory requirements, pre-employment screens are necessary to fully understand an applicant's history, protect client privacy and security, and avoid making poor employment choices.

These checks go well beyond reference checks and generally include things such as:

  • Criminal searches. These can include both federal and county criminal record reviews.
  • Education validation. All of the educational information provided in the applicant's resume and application are reviewed, including schools attended, diplomas earned, dates, grade point average, etc.
  • Work history verification. These reviews include proof of employment dates, positions worked, salaries, reasons for termination, and whether the candidate was eligible for rehire. Sometimes, if allowed, former supervisors are interviewed.
  • Social Security number verification. This procedure authenticates the Social Security number provided. It also reveals address history.
  • Drug testing. These screenings involve physical exams and fluid and hair testing for various substances.
  • Credit report. There are three national credit bureaus that provide reports on an applicant’s credit history. These reports provide insight into an applicant’s fiscal responsibility and reliability and a sense of their personal responsibility. Bankruptcies, liens, and judgments are disclosed in these reports.
  • Motor vehicle records. These reports disclose driving history information, such as accidents, traffic violations, and license suspensions and revocations. Driving-related insurance information is included, such as insurance lapses. Driving Under the Influence (DUI or DWI) charges and potential substance abuse problems are flagged.
  • Professional licensing records. The purpose of these reports is to validate all professional licensing information.
  • Industry-specific sanction and watch lists. These watch lists reveal censures, warnings, or fines received from industry organizations.
  • Homeland Security check. This procedure checks the applicant’s name against over ninety worldwide known terrorist and fugitive databases that are considered threats to global and national security.

Unless mandated by regulatory agencies, the use of background checks is subjective. Each company has its own standards with respect to the level of scrutiny prior to hiring. In addition, each company has standards with respect to the types of infractions that will cause someone not to be hired.

In addition to the pre-employment scenario, background checks are also used in promotion scenarios or when an insurance professional pursues a different career in the same company.

Applicants must agree, in advance, to the background check. In many instances, employment offers are made contingent upon a satisfactory review. If an employer discovers something in the background check that causes it to "take an adverse action," that candidate or employee must be given the chance to dispute the information. Examples of adverse actions include rescinding a job offer, refusing to make a job offer, failing to promote, or firing an existing employee.

Background checks and pre-employment screenings come in many levels. While many companies conduct the background checks themselves, some hire outside experts to conduct the more comprehensive searches.

Last Updated: 05/21/2014

© 2017 Copyright | Insurance Careers Tips | All Rights Reserved