GUEST BLOG: Plan your actuarial career…

UoY Careers Rocket illy   …skills you need to gain before finishing your studies.

Guest blog written by Jacqueline Rose, on behalf of

This small article aims to provide you with insights into how you can prepare yourself best to land a job right after your studies. Clearly, next to your excellent degree you need the right skills and experience to impress employers. In the framework of this article it looks at 19 actuarial job adverts, in order to figure out what is requested on the actuarial job market. More precisely, it looks at 13 advertised trainee positions/graduate schemes, and six available graduate jobs, which have been retrieved from three different platforms (e.g. in January 2013.

It has been determined, that getting a graduate scheme position is the toughest task of the three options available. Employers look back to your A-Levels which should be of numerical nature at a minimum of grade B, and show at least 320 UCAS points in three subjects. In addition, your numerical/semi numerical degree should at least be completed with a merit or above. In contrast, only six of nine advertised trainee positions asked for a 2:1 degree (two numerical related, one of any discipline) and only four for a minimum of 300 UCAS points. However, as well five of seven graduate jobs vacancies demand for a 2:1 or above degree, and two of them were asking for a UCAS tariff of at least 320.

Next to your academic qualifications, which prove your numerical, analytical and data analysis skills requested by all ads we experienced, there is a wide variety of soft skills mentioned in all the ads. Depending, on the business and the position you are aiming for, different skills are needed. Clearly, client facing roles such as actuarial consultant positions need a higher level of interpersonal skills. However, as nearly all roles include dealing with either clients, colleagues or business partners all ads except three asked either for excellent written and oral communication/presentation skills, empathy, team working skills or relationship building skills. Moreover, organisations are especially demanding in regard to the graduate’s work attitude. Five ads, underlined that they are looking for someone with a high level of passion, independence, ambition, motivation, enthusiasm, and stamina.

Furthermore, some employers ask for certain business skills and professional experience. More specifically, two ads asked for a commercial minded person or commercial/ sales experience, and three for previous experience in the same field of work, customer service experience or other extra-curricular activities. Five ads listed time management, project management and an organised and clear thinking as a necessary skill. Two gave the outlook that leadership skills will be necessary, and five think decision making and problem solving skills are important. Six see flexibility, multitasking, and the ability to work under pressure and to adapt as needed. Five ads point out IT skills, especially advanced MS Excel and other statistical software working knowledge. One ad emphasise mobility as advantageous.

What does this mean for you?

In the rare case that you possess all the listed skills already which you can prove by relevant experience and qualifications, you don’t need to worry as the employers are waiting for you. Everyone else needs to put in a bit extra effort to their daily life. Especially recommended are software courses which include Microsoft Expert/ Project and statistical software such as Matlab, ArcGIS, SPSS, Minitab and so forth. Furthermore, the person who needs to should join a presentation skill or a leadership course. Ideally, term breaks should be used for work experience, where you can gain commercial or customer service skills, and develop your team working skills. Other extra-curricular activities prove your good time management skills, your enthusiasm and stamina. Luckily, many companies employ nearly qualified actuaries in the framework of internship agreements. These internships are a great way to build contacts, network in the industry and to gain first professional experience. Once qualified, your job hunt can start and specialised recruiters such as Star Actuarial Futures are good partners for fresh graduates.