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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Recruitment: A day in the life

There is more to being an actuarial recruiter than it may seem. Our clients see the work we do from when they receive a CV. We set up interviews, give feedback, manage expectations, negotiate contracts and guide candidates through to them happily joining their new firm. However, much of an actuarial recruiter’s work is done before the CV arrives in a line manager’s inbox and I would like to share this with you - clients and candidates alike.

Terminology, job functions and concepts can be difficult to understand for an outsider. At the beginning of my tenure at Hays I remember taking a week to understand the concept of Liability Driven Investment.

I start my day at 7.30am by reading the industry news, reading trade magazines such as The Actuary, Professional Pensions, The Economist and I also utilise the Beehive (an excellent online source of pensions news). This market research keeps me up-to-date with industry developments and new entrants to the market and means that I understand the issues my clients face. I find this reading vital to ensure I have a complete understanding of actuarial work, can interview candidates thoroughly and understand key issues currently affecting clients and candidates. Reading sources such as Watson Wyatt’s Global Investment Review means I can assess investment actuaries’ level of experience and knowledge and ensure a good candidate fit for my clients.

Without our clients we have no business, so Hays Actuarial believes in visiting all clients, no matter their size or location. It is important to see the offices and surrounding areas, meet line managers and see company culture first-hand. I meet contacts usually 3 times per week, often covering great distances to take detailed job briefs and I always come away from meetings with a clear idea of exactly what my client is after. When candidates have questions about a role I can answer their queries confidently.

Finding clients is easier than finding candidates. We operate in a ‘candidate-short market’, meaning that lots of companies are trying to attract talent from the same candidate pool. In the pensions market this scarcity can be seen right across the board, from part-qualified actuaries through to Scheme Actuaries. My colleagues recruiting actuaries in Birmingham, Leeds and Scotland concur that the candidate pool can be even more limited for the regional markets.

To generate candidates from this limited candidate pool we use a mixture of passive and proactive techniques. At any one time 10% of workers in the actuarial market are actively looking for employment. This 10% of the market we reach through passive techniques, which draw candidates to approach a recruiter and include utilising Hays.com and industry and trade press job postings.

Proactive sourcing reaches the 80% of the market that may move for the right opportunity. This sourcing includes search and selection services and informing relevant candidates on our database to describe available opportunities and to ask for referrals. Proactive sourcing generates most of our candidates and constitutes the largest percentage of our daily activity, often continuing until 9pm. It is important to regularly keep in touch with your database and to know your candidates inside out. Our strong candidate relationships help provide us with an extensive referral network.

Rather than considering myself a recruitment consultant, I think of myself as an information broker. I inform candidates about opportunities available in the market and inform clients about candidates who are currently considering a move. Our database of actuarial candidates contains complicated coding mechanisms we use to isolate certain skill-sets, meaning that our approach is always targeted. Untargeted marketing yields little results - think sending a scheme actuary a part-qualified life opportunity and you have a good starting block!

Once you have located a suitable candidate for a role it is important to meet each candidate personally. At Hays we meet each candidate face-to-face to build up a realistic picture of their personality, skills and wants. We challenge and probe CV information to clarify that information on candidates’ CVs are correct and then agree an action plan regarding which opportunities to pursue.

On becoming an experienced consultant, having developed a long-term understanding of your candidates and clients, you can provide a fully ‘consultative’ service. For clients, you are a true consultant when you offer them realistic solutions to their recruitment problems. For candidates, you are a true consultant when you tell them their market value, fully understand their career aspirations and guide them to the right opportunities.

I hope that this article shows that there is more to being an actuarial recruiter than just arranging interviews and giving feedback.

Alex Shaw is a specialist pensions and investments consultant for Hays Actuarial covering London, the home counties and the South West