Given the small number of degrees directly related to insurance, many employers will hire someone on the basis of their soft skills and commercial awareness over the degree subject studied. Insurance professionals come from a wide range of backgrounds, from ancient history to zoology, via business and finance.
What are insurance employers looking for from graduates?
Employers are looking for graduates who are committed and extremely professional in their practice. Soft skills are exceptionally important and employers will look for new entrants who have good communication, negotiation, problem solving and lateral thinking skills. When evaluating a client’s claim or calculating the cost for a policy, insurance professionals must exercise comprehensive analytical skills too.
Customer service and client relationship skills are equally important, as are good numerate abilities. The insurance sector is always looking for bright graduates, with a logical, methodical approach and the potential to understand the vital elements of risk. There are so many different classes of business and so many different types of jobs that graduates can be sure to find an area of interest.
Possessing a good understanding of the insurance sector is an advantage – the CII’s free Discover membership scheme can help with this. There will be some jobs that require an applicant to have an understanding of the technical knowledge needed to do the job, but don’t worry if you feel this is not something that you can offer – most employers are willing to support an entrant through training and gaining professional qualifications.
1. Communication and negotiation skills
In the insurance profession you will work with a wide range of people; from finance professionals to those with little to no finance knowledge. One of the most valuable skills you can possess and develop for this reason is the ability to adapt your communication style so that you are able to explain complex and sometimes technical information to a variety of audiences.
Recruiters will assess your communication style through your application and will be looking for evidence that you can correspond accurately and effectively with clear structure.
2. Numerical ability
Although it is not necessary to have studied a numerical degree to work in the insurance sector, some numerical ability is essential for most roles. Numeracy skills mean being able to understand and work with numerical and graphical information, draw conclusions and explain your findings.
3. Problem solving and analytical abilities
Most employers will analyse how you approach a case study or activities organised at assessment centres. Have examples prepared for your interview which demonstrate your understanding of a challenge you’ve faced, how you prioritised and worked through the solution, if you sought help or approval and what the outcome of the situation was. It is helpful to explain your thought processes and show logical analysis when answering questions like this, as it will give the interviewers insight into how you think and what you would be like to work with.
4. Customer service and client relationships
Working in insurance you will need to understand the company’s clients, their needs and how best to meet those needs. Having the ability to build and maintain professional relationships is essential for retaining business and will make you a valuable asset to any company. Recruiters will take into account how you interact with your assessors, other candidates at the assessment centre and the rapport you are able to build with your interviewers. If you have had experience understanding and dealing with the needs of others, use these as examples during your interview. You may draw on volunteering experience, part-time jobs, or your involvement in a university society or student union.
Your ability to work as part of a team will be tested and evaluated during group exercises at the assessment centre. To make a positive, lasting impression, constructively contribute to discussions and activities while listening to your peers and encouraging them to do the same. Teamwork is all about being able to operate smoothly and efficiently within a group – this involves being able to compromise and having the ability to communicate with, negotiate, influence and advise your team. It is important to remember that different employers are looking for different things; insurance is an extremely diverse sector and one size does not fit all. Before you apply, research the different companies, read their websites and speak to their representatives at careers fairs. Get a feel for the companies so that you can apply to the employer that’s right for you.