Written by Robyn Taylor:
The United States’ economy has had a bumpy ride over the past few years. At this point, most economists believe we’ve come out on the other side and the job market is recovering for the most part. Things have changed, however, at least in the way that employers look at potential hires.
The actuarial employment market is strong, and new roles are popping up all the time – the entry level market is active nationwide. However, these days, it is not enough to have a few exams under your belt to nab that dream job. Employers want more, and they want it at the outset.
The economic downturn taught companies that they could get by with less. Extraneous staff was not an option. Now that things have improved, and actuarial headcounts are rising, employers are still looking for the intangibles they may not have required in the past.
The first of these intangibles is communication skills. You must be able to communicate clearly, demonstrating both oral and written skills. Actuaries are working more and more with their non-technical counterparts. If you wish to succeed in the corporate world, you must be able to convey technical ideas to non-actuaries. It’s a good idea to work on this – looking at the work you have done on the job, in school or in internships and try describing what it is meant to convey to benefit the business as a whole.
Secondly, employers want their new actuaries to be potential leaders. Of course, not everyone is going to be a Chief Actuary. However, the chances that someday you will run a group or even a project are very strong, and in order to do this, you’ll need to develop the skills required to manage people, deadlines, and to mentor those working with you. Make use of any work or school opportunities in order to develop these skills, and be able to describe them to potential employers.
Finally, flexibility has become a critical trait of the successful employee. Can you move from project to project without having to spend a lot of time ramping up for the new tasks? In today’s world, the ability to easily start new tasks and pick up new technologies with a minimum of fuss is crucial. As I mentioned earlier, extraneous staff is not an option today. One day you might be called on to handle a new role within the organization.
Taking all the above in context, you can see that actuaries are much more than just number crunchers in the world of 2014. Actuaries are a crucial source of business information for areas such as underwriting, finance, sales, and IT – basically everywhere within the whole company! When prepping yourself for your first or any future job changes, don’t just think about which exams you have passed or the programs you may have written. As important as those things are, you must also evaluate yourself in terms of what intangibles you bring to the table. Make sure you acquire these intangibles and make sure you can convey this information to potential employers who can hopefully set you up in the job of your dreams!