February 9, 2023
Answers Inexperienced Job Seekers Want About Insurance Careers
by Mary Newgard
February, aka Insurance Careers Month, makes me nostalgic. I ask myself, “Had I known then what I know now about insurance, would it have changed the trajectory of my career?”
The fact is I stumbled into the business a year after graduating college. Nowhere in my line of sight was insurance. The agency that hired me as a total newbie exposed me to the industry, invested in my training, and taught me sales. Those two-and-a-half years as a commercial insurance producer proved invaluable. It’s that insurance experience that led me to Capstone, an insurance-specific recruiting firm, where I’ve now worked for 17 years. Sometimes things just work out!
As a hiring manager, you know spring graduation is right around the corner. If you plan to recruit young or inexperienced talent, I hope you’ll think about my journey and incorporate my advice into your process. Not only is this 40-plus-year-old me talking, but it’s also the 22-year-old college grad who would have loved to hear this information from insurance organizations so many moons ago.
Tell me what insurance is.
It sounds simple enough, but I honestly had no idea besides personally buying auto and health insurance. I would have been so much more excited if I had understood how insurance plays a big role in the broader business community, as well as provides risk management for individuals and businesses.
Tell me how I'll learn insurance.
My first 30 days on the job were spent in a dark room studying for my insurance license. That’s probably not the training and onboarding plan that will inspire enthusiasm among today’s youth. Talk about mentoring, internships, continuing education, insurance schools, systems training/simulations, etc.
Tell me how my degree will be put to good use.
My college degree is in public relations. I’m a good communicator and writer who is naturally outgoing. That’s a recipe for sales, yet insurance producer never crossed my mind. What are the academic skills, as well as personality traits that fit into insurance no matter if your degree is in business, finance, HR, IT, marketing, communications, etc.? Better yet, if someone wants to pursue an advanced degree, how can it be put to good use in a role within insurance?
Tell me about recurring revenue.
Granted, this is just for producers, but it’s a huge draw if any type of non-traditional candidate is weighing two sales offers. I don’t know of another industry that has recurring revenue. For non-sales roles (client service/account management, claims, risk management/loss control, etc.) emphasize opportunities to earn variable incentives, deferred compensation, stakeholder/shareholder/ownership, and ultimately creation of wealth.
Tell me about being consultative.
Working 100% commission jobs, calling your 100 closest friends and family is one stereotype the insurance cannot seem to shake. Oh yeah, boring is the other. Cut right through the perception of being a “slick used car salesperson.” This is about being technically gifted, knowledgeable, and client-focused to help businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries make smart financial decisions in their pursuit of profit and growth.
Tell me about career flexibility.
You expected me to say, “career advancement,” right? One of the reasons I left the agency I worked for is because my husband and I were ready to start a family, but our support system was three hours away. At that time working remotely wasn’t an option. Today, remote work is widely accepted. During an interview, explain what you offer for benefits (maternity and paternity leave). Talk about internal transfer opportunities to accommodate relocation preferences and long commutes. Talk about pivoting between product groups and teams should the person decide down the road that they want a new challenge.
“Ask the Insurance Recruiter” is a monthly column written by Mary Newgard, Partner and published in partnership with Insurance Journal Magazine. Visit Insurance Journal Magazine’s website for a complete list of previous articles. For questions and comments, email Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.