September 16, 2020
I Want to Rejoin the Insurance Industry. How Do I Explain A Gap in Employment?
by Amy Stuntz
Careersidekick.com published a comprehensive list in its article How To Explain Gaps In Employment. Those reasons include:
- Caring for a sick family member
- Caring for a young child
- Any medical or health issue
- Taking time off to relocate
- Pursuing further education or going back to school
- Pursuing any other type of professional training
- Taking time off to travel, study, work on a solo project, etc.
- Trying to start a business or freelance career
- You were laid off, your former company downsized, etc… and you had trouble finding a job after
No matter the reason, the key for a successful re-entry into the workforce is telling the right story to the right audience. Being an experienced insurance professional, there are special techniques you can use to rejoin the insurance industry. Here are tips to increase your chances of landing a great job after a break from the insurance business.
"Why now? Why do you want to return to work?"
You might think you have an obvious answer to this question, but you may need to dig deeper to find an answer that will appeal to hiring managers. Insurance companies and agencies will ask this question because they are sensitive to job changes and future job stability.
- Talk about how you miss being a career-oriented professional
- Describe your passion for insurance consulting, risk management, underwriting, claims advocacy, etc.
- Mention how you’ve kept in touch with insurance industry trends and see now as the perfect time to not only return but be set on a path for career progression
"What type of role do you want?"
The insurance industry is constantly changing. The job you once had might be outdated, so consider different alternatives to the same old, same old.
- Have defined goals about what you want to accomplish in a new position in 6, 12 and 24 month increments.
- Talk about the ‘level’ you seek; within in a corporate structure are you an individual contributor, a team leader or an executive manager?
- Is a dramatic change your primary search motivation? For example, you were a Claims Adjuster but that burned you out. In that case, have an answer ready for the hiring manager’s question, “Are you okay with taking a step back to get your foot back in the door?”
"Have you stayed current on your education?"
It’s normal for your skills to slip when you have been out of practice for a while. Insurance employers are primarily concerned with issues of technology, licensure and continuing education. Here are ways to prove to potential employers that you are up to date in your field and ready to work.
- Take a refresher course, get a degree or certificate. Renew any necessary licenses.
- Volunteer – Use your skills to help a local non-profit and gain experience.
- Attend an Industry Conference- Get up to speed with what is going on in the industry. Its also a great opportunity to network.
- Research- Subscribe to professional journals, check out press releases from the leaders in the industry.
"Can you explain these gaps in employment?"
You may be self-conscious about a gap in your resume. It’s only a red flag if you try to hide it or don’t have an honest, forthright explanation.
- Research resume writing tools online for the optimal way to outline work history with employment gaps
- Ask a friend to conduct a mock interview where they ask you about the employment gap in 2-3 different ways
- Make sure to add all the new skills you may have developed while you were away (even if they were outside the business. It shows connectivity and engagement.)
"Are your networks current?"
Everyone knows who you know is often more important than what you know. Insurance agencies care about this because they love new business revenue. Maybe some of your clients are potential sales leads especially if your non-compete has expired. Here are some networking ideas:
- Existing connections- Previous colleagues, former clients, friends and family. Make them aware you are looking for a new position. This can also be an opportunity to prepare any potential references.
- Talk to a Recruiter- A good recruiter can be your biggest ally. They can talk to you about your qualifications and where the best fit for you might be. They can help with resume and interview tips and will be up to speed with industry happenings.
- Alumni Associations- Get in touch with people who attended your same college. It’s a fun and easy way to relate to possible future employers or co-workers.
- Professional Organizations- Join an industry organization, particularly a local chapter if available. Attend networking events.
"What is your timeline to start back to work?"
Questions about your career break are sure to come up. It is normal for an interviewer to question whether you are ready to get back to the grind.
- Be prepared to answer why you have a career gap and what you did with your time while you were away
- Write out answers to common interview questions
- Have references ready to go
- Talk about the ‘ramp up’ time you need for training, licensing and other re-entry tools