Articles - Actuarial jobseeker trends & advice with Christian Shanahan

Christian Shanahan, CEO of VISIR discusses current trends in actuarial recruitment, the use of agencies as a recruitment tool, as well as providing career advice for graduates and candidates looking to enter the market or wanting to get ahead in their career.

 What sort of jobs are most in demand at the moment? And what regions?
 In terms of regions, London is still the busiest and will continue to be. Midlands comes second followed by Scotland at the moment. GI/ non-life is the busiest with Life making that small comeback with SII still the driver. We are seeing a lot of roles involving Risk which will use many actuarial skill sets, also capital modelling roles are still in high demand.
 When looking to fill roles, what candidates stand out from the pack?
 Clients like to see candidates that have be steady with their exams and studies and have not been prodding along and taking forever to get them done. People with consistency in their job and haven’t been jumping from job to job each year are also attractive.
 When applying for jobs, particularly with agencies, I would advise candidates to tell recruiters about other extra duties and projects they have taken on to develop their skills and experience further. Personality is key these days to clients and many managers look to see how their next recruit will fit into the team they currently run. With this in mind, mention your extra circular activities and things you do outside of work. There is a lot you cannot bring across or show on your CV and so you need to utilise the opportunity you have to get your personality across on paper.
 What would your advice be for actuarial graduates or people looking to enter the market – what’s the best way to do this?
 There are some good agencies out there; the first thing I would say is sign up with an agency like VISIR who specialises in actuarial recruitment. This will give you access to the jobs on the market and you will be able to keep up-to-date on market intelligence and trends. This is the hardest part of your career and the advice to get work experience is much harder than some realise. Study hard and your results will stand out when employers are looking how to cut down the large amount of CVs employers will receive.
 Secondly if you cant get a job in the actuarial market, try to get one that can utilise your skills and what you have learned to date. When that one job comes up and you are called for interview, the hard work is only beginning. Still at this level, the amount of candidates that do not do their homework is staggering. They agency can only do some much to prep you, it is up to you to prepare and find out as much about the company, the job and the person that is interviewing you as possible.
 How can recruitment agencies help candidates to get into the market? Is signing up with a recruitment agency for everyone?
 The best way to think about this is to imagine the agency as a portal to open up opportunities they may not be able to find otherwise. Agencies act as the middlemen between the client and candidate and because of this can give vital in-depth detail that may not be found on a job description. A lot of agencies now use LinkedIn and find it an excellent tool to find and then stay in touch with passive candidates in the market.
 Signing up with an agency is not for everyone and there is no rush to do so. My advice is to find a recruiter you can trust, even more so than the agency. Do you homework on this and perhaps make a few calls to agencies first. It will be easy to spot the best agencies on how they handle the call, quiz the recruiter on their experience within the industry, ask them questions on their knowledge, who they know and once you are happy, connect to him or her on Linkedin and keep in touch. As this social media tool uses real-time data there is less chance of either of you missing updates from each other. If you pass an exam put this up there, if you have a new skill, add it to your profile.
 Any final comments for actuarial jobseekers?
 The market is constantly changing and evolving and although actuaries are still very much sought after, the days of showing up to an interview and getting the job based on purely their skills are all but gone. Clients are being more stringent and picky in who they hire and with the influx of candidates coming out of universities they can afford to be.
 Actuaries need to work smarter when they decide to move jobs, they really need to do their homework and research not just the role but the company before moving forward. With candidates having so much exposure to different areas of the market its imperative they have more than one CV at hand. These days you need to adjust your CV to suit the requirements of the role you are going for.

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