20 SEP 2012 | LYDIA HOLDER
There are approximately 7,700 qualified actuarial professionals in the UK, with a further 4,000 students completing an actuarial course at any one time. The Actuarial Profession is a niche but critical part of the financial sector and well-paid graduate trainee or entry-level positions are highly sought after graduates.
So, as a new graduate with limited work experience, how do you get your first job?
Research the market
There are several ways you can identify graduate-level vacancies:
- visit your university careers office and ask them for information on graduate employers related to your sector;
- visit specialist financial jobsites including: www.theactuaryjobs.com
which includes UK and International job opportunities; and
- research insurance companies in your locality and visit their website to see if they have any suitable vacancies. Adopt a skills-based CV
If you are a less experienced job-seeker then you require a positive approach to dealing with employers by making your existing skills and experience relevant to the role you are applying for. It requires the preparation of a strong, tailored skills-based CV. How can you tailor a CV?
Let’s use Simon as an example:
Simon is a 21-year-old economics graduate with no actuarial experience but a passion to build up a career in the actuarial profession. He is looking for an entry-level graduate actuarial role and a glance through some graduate trainee job adverts indicates that employers will typically be looking for the following:
- A strong academic background with a min 2:1 or First degree in an analytical subject;
- Strong analytical skills;
- A logical approach to decision-making and problem-solving
- Excellent communication and team-working skills.
What can be done to improve Simon’s chances of meeting the criteria asked for and getting an interview for the role? Consider Simon’s opening statement on his CV
This is an amalgamation of the opening statements of CVs which have been sent to me by graduates over the years.
“I am looking for a new position within the Financial Industry, based on the knowledge acquired during my studies. I would describe myself as highly-motivated, skilled, confident and passionate about the financial industry. I am interested in combining excellent analytical skills with a company that is focused on people’s career development.”
Below I have written a revised profile that I would recommend Simon use as part of his new CV:
“I am a highly professional economics graduate with a strong academic background and an excellent analytical skillset.
I am a strong communicator and team worker with a logical approach to problem-solving.
I am interested in a graduate-level role in the actuarial sector to develop a new career in the profession”
By being specific about wanting to work in the actuarial sector (rather than just the ‘financial’ sector), and focusing on the skills that the employers were looking for on their job adverts, this profile shows that Simon has all the skills required as well as a real focus on the Actuarial Profession which makes for a much stronger first impression. The key skills section
In Simon’s case I would recommend a concise table including the following skills which address the requirements stated in the job advert: ‘Research and Analysis’, ‘Problem Solving’, ‘Team Work’ and no more than three others, depending on previous education and experience. Again, this showcases what Simon could do were he to be hired for the role.
This is a great place to highlight your character and what you have to offer to an employer other than relevant experience. In Simon’s case he recently completed a 10k run for charity, and was social secretary for his university football team. This shows that he is proactive, likely to be sociable and the sort of person who will make a positive contribution to the employers’ organisation as a whole.
Lydia Holder is a qualified careers advisor with a background in recruitment. She is also the managing consultant of www.sharpcv.co.uk