How to break into the insurance industry:

For decades the classic response to the question, “How did you end up in the insurance business?” was:

  • I have family in the business” or
  • Insurance was hiring and stable when I got out of college during economic recession” or
  • I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and fell into the industry“…

Many of the successful leaders in the business today had similar answers when asked the question.  These are classic examples of how our industry has a serious recruitment and talent management problem – which has been acknowledged and efforts are being made to address.

Children and Young adults

Let’s face it not many kids look up at their parents at age 7 and say “Mom and Dad, when I grow up I want to be in insurance!!”  Frankly, now-a-days most parents would think about sending their children for therapy or medication if that was their answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.

Insurance was never the one of the “sexy” industries and didn’t have the high power salaries and allure of Investment Banking or other Wall Street jobs.    But many benefits.  It should be a goal to get the high school age or college freshman interested and preparing for a career in insurance as it will only advance the industry farther.  The industry needs to do a better job promoting all the good it does for society and working on its reputation.

Since the recession of 2007-08, we have seen more of the younger generation start exploring careers in the insurance industry and attending schools of Insurance or Risk Management at bachelor and post bachelor education level.  We discussed some of the benefits under Careers in Insurance in a previous article.

Why??  What’s changed??

  • Data driven career path

    • data science and predictive analytics have become a way of the future.  In the age of the “Internet of Things” and data collection being so important, individuals and businesses have also recognized the importance to analyze and mine this data.  The Insurance industry is blessed with tremendous amounts of data and a growing need of professionals with the skills to do it.
  • Development and growth opportunities

    • According to The Insurance Game, “The insurance industry is the hidden gem of the finance industry and it’s shining bright. Think about a job where client entertainment is as much a part of the job as cutting dirty shapes in Excel. You’re out there, wheeling, dealing, building relationships, winning clients, smashing life.  It is true, insurance takes a special sort of person – you’ve got to be fun, switched on, and adaptable.” See our article on Career progression.  
  • Work life balance

    • After reading books like the The Four Hour Work Week, employers and employees are starting to realize there is more to life than the 80 hour work week for $500k salary.   The days of 9-5 are starting to fade with the advance of technology and people are working remotely, overseas, spending more time with family, etc.
  • Stability is important

    • after seeing the layoffs in the finance sector during the recession, and seeing how insurance industry went relatively unharmed.
  • Competitive salaries/benefits

    • six figure salaries and competitive benefits packages are being earned to retain and attracted talented individuals.

What you can do

If you are reading this, you already know the benefits and your asking “Alright, how do I break in?”  I’m not going to try a sell you interview questions, an interview guide or some master plan.  Honestly, I believe there are two simple skills that may require some practice but are very easy and basic.
  • Read and research
  • Networking

Anyone who has made a career of working in insurance industry will have a tremendous amount of information, resources, and recommendations to share, and most are happy to share it.  Why? If they had one of the top 3 answers or a similar fortuitous reason to explain why they joined the industry and made a 20+ year career out of it.  They love the industry they “fell into” – tap into that emotion and have a informed conversation with the person you know.

These people will be your biggest allies in getting the job you want and avoiding pitfalls in the business.  You have to be willing to ask questions, take the time and effort to do the research and truly understand who you are as a person. Self Awareness is very helpful to understand which career path in the industry you should start.
Having this contact/mentor will help tremendously throughout your career.

Industry groups

If you don’t know someone who is in the industry already there are other ways to network.  These are just a few suggestions:
Or for those of you who have no success with any of these recommendations, you can always contact the InsuranceShark and we will be happy to help.

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About the author

Arnold Smith

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