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Advice on obtaining an actuarial position (entry level)

  1. Apr 16, 2014 #1
    I'm in the process of job hunting right now and I'm trying to obtain an actuarial position. Looking to hear if any actuaries here have any suggestions or tips on how to increase my chances. Right now, I"m just looking through job searching sites like indeed and monster, and also going to various insurance company websites to find positions. I'm also contacting recruiters.

    I'm currently living abroad right won't be back until the end of June, but I wanted to start early. I have a personal preference to major cities like Dallas, Austin, Seattle, but technically, I'll consider any location in the country.

    Right now, my main disadvantage is that I only have 1 exam completed and won't have the next one completed until August, but I'm hoping that my 8 years of experience in the insurance industry (claims) will give me a little bit of advantage.

    If any one has any thoughts or experience they can share, that will be great.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2014 #2
    I'm not an actuary, but I've been investigating it for a while, now, so I have a few things to say. I've heard of people asking about Excel in job interviews, so it could be good to be sort of ready to convince them you have seen a few spreadsheets before.

    Think east coast, like Connecticut or New York. I was looking for something in California, and there is some stuff there, but I have a feeling I'd have better luck elsewhere. I haven't been job searching so much lately, so I haven't had time to adjust my location preferences yet because I'm taking the financial math exam next week, and I got a little behind on studying for it, so it's sort of consuming my life right now.

    Networking can be helpful. So far, my closest call to get a job came through someone my mom knew in the insurance industry who knew an actuary. Turned out that it wasn't really an entry-level position, so they rejected me as unqualified. Maybe some kind of mis-communication there, but the guy seemed to be interested in hiring me (and possibly still is if someone else leaves and they open up an entry-level spot).
  4. Apr 16, 2014 #3
    I’m an ASA (FSA this year if things go well) with five years of experience. Some thoughts:

    Getting hired with one exam is difficult, but not impossible. I typically tell people it’s unlikely, but your case may be an exception. After all, I got my first job with one exam when hiring conditions were worse, so it can happen!

    While the value will depend on the company and what you did, in general I’d say the claims experience is a huge plus. I’d hire someone with 8 years of insurance office experience over a fresh graduate any day.

    All other things being equal (and for entry level they sometimes are), employers will hire interesting people they’d like to work with. It sounds like you have a diverse background – maybe you have some neat stories to tell. That’s worth something. Work on your interviewing skills and keep in mind what they’re looking for.

    As homeomorphic mentioned, technical skills will be important. Brush up on your excel. Learn some SQL if you don’t know it. (SAS is less important than everyone says; you can run SQL from SAS, and SAS is easy to learn once you have a SQL base).

    Prepare short, succinct, and positive answers to questions such as “Why do you want to be an actuary?” “Why don’t you want to continue doing ____?” “Why do you want to work for this company?” etc. My general finding is that people are freaking horrible at interviews. Be better than your competition.

    Your geographic flexibility is a great thing. Apply everywhere. Most actuarial jobs are in large cities, so that’s where you’ll likely end up, but there are a few good jobs in smaller cities as well.

    Finally, as a side note, I really like what I do. I’ve actually become passionate about insurance and insurance systems. My job has a lot of aggravations, and it’s outrageously hard right now, but I feel what I do is important, I enjoy most of my time at work, and my only regret is that I didn’t find this career a decade earlier.

    Best of luck.
  5. Apr 16, 2014 #4
    thank you for the suggestions. good luck to locrian on your fsa and homeomorphic on your FM!
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