Places on actuarial graduate training schemes and internships are competitive: it’s vital to give yourself the best chance possible in applications by perfecting your CV. Learn how to present yourself to your best advantage with this short introduction on how to write a CV for actuarial positions.
Before you start to optimise your CV for applying to actuarial jobs, make sure you have all the basics right:
Keep things simple and professional looking. This means sticking to standard fonts, such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. Avoid the use of colours, pictures or photographs. Your CV should be roughly two sides of A4 – this is also a useful guide to how much content you should include, so don’t be tempted to adjust spacing and font-size to compensate for over-long or over-short CVs – keep font sizes between 10 and 12 points.
Keep things clear and brief. Break up large blocks of text (which recruiters are likely to skip over) and instead aim to use bullet points to itemise key facts.
Aim to always use positive language and emphasise achievements, but avoid sounding arrogant. Don’t say you’re very intelligent or talented, prove it: what specific achievements demonstrate your value to employers?
Don’t rely on spellcheckers, always proof-read your CV carefully every time you make an amendment. Getting someone else to take a quick look at it can also help to spot the errors you may have missed.
|‘Sometimes you may hear that the latest mode is to include details of work experience ahead of your educational qualifications. Disregard this: as an actuary, your education and training is always of the highest importance to employers and as such should be included first.’
– Dr. Geraldine Kaye, Managing Director of GAAPS Actuarial
This is a short paragraph allowing you to present yourself to the recruiter. Briefly summarise your background, ambitions
To stand out as an actuarial candidate, avoid any vague or general statements. The more focused you are as a candidate the better, as the recruiter wants to know that you’re serious about joining their firm. If you’re seeking to become an actuarial trainee, where? Are you interested in working within consultancy, insurance or finance? These are things you should be considering before you make an application. List your strengths, but avoid general traits such as ‘team-player’.
Amongst other things, future actuaries should be looking to highlight their analytical skills, technical abilities and commercial awareness.
Supply your contact details, including at least one phone number, your postal address and your email address. It isn’t necessary to list your gender, age or marital status, but if you are not a UK national, include your nationality and give details of your work permit status here.
In reverse chronological order, list your educational qualifications, including dates, grades and where you studied. The more recent the qualification, the more space you can take to expand on it.
For your degree, listing the modules that you’ve studied or the subjects you’ve covered and the grades received can help to emphasise how relevant your qualifications are. If you have not studied actuarial sciences specifically, but have studied a business or science related degree, highlighting any mathematics or statistics covered during your course can help to show your competence.
List your work experience in reverse chronological order, including any voluntary work that you’ve undertaken.
Never underestimate the value of work experience: take care to highlight key achievements, even of summer shop jobs which you might not think sound very impressive. You might have had a customer facing role or trained other members of staff: these show communication skills, which are crucial for a future actuary. Taking stock checks or dealing with money proves your ability to take on responsibility.
Be sure to include any particular goals you achieved, (such as sales targets) or praise you received from senior members of staff.
Whether you choose to highlight them elsewhere in your CV, such as education, work experience or interests, or you choose to include a specific skills section, it’s important to display your relevant knowledge and talents. IT and language skills are particularly important for actuaries. For example, if you’ve come across actuarial systems such as Prophet through your course, or you’re very adept with Excel, these are vital skills which an actuarial employer will value. Remember, they won’t assume you have these skills unless you tell them.
Different recruiters place different emphasis on hobbies: keep these brief and bear in mind what a hobby says about you as a potential employee. Involvement in societies at university, particularly if you took on an organisational role, is valuable, as are hobbies that demonstrate commitment, such as sport or charity fundraising.
Nowadays, it is not seen as necessary to include references on your CV: these can be supplied later in the recruitment process.
When submitting a CV, always take care to note what information an employer has requested you include: it’s extremely important to demonstrate that you have attention to detail and can follow instructions. Don’t forget, that if you’re applying for roles which require different skills, always adapt your CV accordingly.