If you’re looking for your first actuarial internship or job, you’re definitely going to want to make sure employers see that you’ve passed an actuarial exam or two. That’ll really boost your chances of getting the position.
But actuarial exams aren’t something you’ve ever had to include on your resume before. So what’s the best way to add them?
Well, you’ve worked hard for those exams and they’re one of the first things employers want to know about you so you should put them right at the top of your resume (but below your career profile if you have one). This immediately shows employers that you’re dedicated and that you can actually pass actuarial exams.
But there are some other things to think about. How should you display them? Do you include your score? Should you put a failed exam on your resume to show initiative? You’ll learn all that and more below, so keep reading!
How to display your exams
I’m going to give you a sneak peak at the sample resume that I provide in my actuarial resume building course. Here’s the exams section:
See how this sample resume clearly displays the exam name, the fact that the applicant has passed, and the month/year of passing? You should do exactly the same thing. Don’t stray from this setup! It’s clear and provides employers with all the information that they need.
You may have also noticed that it includes the next exam that the candidate plans to write, along with the month/year that they’re planning to do so. Again, you should do the same thing. This shows employers that you’re still working hard and being proactive in your actuarial career pursuit. Ideally, the month that you plan to write your next exam should be no more than 8 months into the future. Less than 6 would be ideal though.
Adding exam scores to your resume
If you scored really well on your exams (a score of 9 or 10) then you may want to show that on your resume. You can do that if you’d like but in my opinion it’s not necessary. A pass is a pass for actuarial exams, so your score really doesn’t matter.
If you do choose to though, you should include your scores for all your passed exams so far. You need to be consistent and that means showing the same information for all your exams. So if you’ve scored less than a 9 or 10 on any exam, don’t put scores at all.
Here’s a slightly modified version of the resume above so that you can see how I would recommend putting exam scores on your resume:
Showing a preliminary pass to your resume
If you received a preliminary pass (ie. an unofficial pass) on your exam but still haven’t got your final results, then it’s best practice to clearly state that your pass is a preliminary pass on your resume.
It’s very (very very) rare for a preliminary pass to ultimately turn into a fail once final results are released. But to ensure complete honesty, instead of writing “Passed”, write “Passed (Preliminary)”.
What if you haven’t passed any exams yet?
Having passed at least one exam is the ideal situation to be in when you’re applying to actuarial internships. Like I said above, it shows that you’re dedicate and that you have the ability to pass actuarial exams. Because of that, it’s a really positive thing for employers to see. However, it is still possible to get an internship without any exams. In fact, I did exactly that! It is rare though.
In this situation you should just put the first exam you plan to write and the month/year in which you plan to write. Again, this shouldn’t be any more than 8 months into the future. The formatting should be very similar to the first example above where I’ve shown how to display upcoming exams that the candidate is going to sit for.
There have been cases in the past when actuarial candidates have been told that they should put failed exam attempts on their resume if they have yet to pass one. In theory, this would show that the candidate is at least trying to pass an exam and being proactive.
While I agree with the premise, my personal belief is that you should not include those failed attempts. It’s not one of the first things you want employers to know about you. Instead, just making note of the next exam you plan to write (like suggested above) will show your initiative without having to put that you’ve failed an exam on your resume.
Gaps in your exams
In some cases, having long gaps between your passed exams can be a red flag for employers. They instantly wonder why it took you so long to pass. Did you fail several times? Were you debating on the career?
Most often though, this is a concern for applicants that have already started working full-time and are looking for a new full-time opportunity. For students looking for internships or their first job, it’s much more acceptable to have gaps because, well, they’re super busy with classes and school exams too.
In most cases though, gaps aren’t a big deal as long as you’ve passed an exam within the past 6 months. That shows employers that you’re still actively pursuing the career and that you’re not just waiting around hoping for them to hire you and pay your exam fees. Employers like to see candidates taking initiative!
No matter what the reason for a gap in your exam progress, just make sure that when you get an interview you’re able to explain it.
Removing actuarial exams for non-actuarial positions
A great way to make yourself a better candidate for actuarial positions is to work in related industries and gain some experience there first. This could be anything in risk management, finance, investments, underwriting, insurance, etc.
When you’re applying to these types of positions, you’ll want to take your actuarial exams off of your resume because they (very clearly) show that you’re not committed to the company/position in the long run. They’d know that you’re ultimately looking for an actuarial position and they’d expect that if that opportunity arises you’ll leave quite quickly. Some hiring managers for those related positions may not even know what actuarial exams are so it’s confusing and useless information for them.
It’s best to only include your exams for actuarial related positions.
Excelling in your resume and job search
If you’re looking to give yourself the best chance of getting the actuarial position that you want, there are a couple of ways that we can connect.
First, you could opt-in for my regular resume and job search email tips. From those you’ll get lots of insight into how to get an internship, as well as interview and resume advice. You can sign up for those in the top right hand corner of this page.
Second, you could take it a step further and make your resume really stand out to maximize your chance of getting an interview by getting my Actuarial Resume Building Course. It’ll teach you everything you need to know so that your resume gets noticed, and I’m even available to answer all your actuarial job search/resume questions too. Go here to learn more about that.