Passed Your First Actuarial Exam? Do This Next!
First off, congratulations on such a HUGE success! Passing an actuarial exam is far from easy, but you’ve done it!
Now that you’ve checked that off your list, you may be wondering what’s next. You may be surprised that I don’t recommend you immediately start studying for another exam.
That’s what many people end up doing.
However, there are other things that should be a higher priority right now.
Before we get into that, it’s important that you understand what actuarial employers are looking for. There are 3 major things that every one of them values. They are passed actuarial exams, relevant experience, and technical skills.
A top actuarial candidate will have all three of those qualities, plus a very well written resume that proves that he/she is a great candidate and really good interview skills too.
So, take note here. It’s not enough just to pass a bunch of exams anymore. To give yourself the best chance of getting an actuarial job, you have to be a well-rounded candidate.
Almost every actuarial job posting requires that candidates know how to use Excel. This is a skill that is absolutely essential for you to learn inside-and-out.
If you don’t, you’ll almost certainly (unfortunately) be passed over in favor of other candidates that know how to use the program and many of it’s powerful features and formulas.
Companies find this skill so valuable and necessary, that they often require candidates to pass an Excel test to demonstrate their abilities.
So after passing an actuarial exam, this should be your next top priority.
This video below is a Beginner Excel Session that you may find helpful if you’re very unfamiliar with it. It’s the first of 9 Excel sessions (beginner to advanced) that are available in the Actuary Accelerator Community.
Not only will this session teach you Excel basics, but it also shows one way in which your Excel skills may be used on the job later. Why not learn Excel and actuarial stuff all at once, right?
(Note: The Accelerator Community has all 9 Excel sessions, from beginner to advanced, plus some VBA training too so that you can learn how to program Excel to automate tasks. There are also 2 actuarial Excel projects to practice your skills).
In addition to Excel, actuarial employers also value programming skills. Being able to program using a language such as VBA, Python, C++, etc is important to many employers. It’s something you’ll likely use quite often.
Since Excel is used so often in actuarial roles, I recommend learning the programming language called VBA first, so that you can automate tasks in Excel using that language. This can be extremely beneficial on-the-job.
Note that it’s fairly easy to learn VBA if you know another programming language, so as long as you know one language, that should be enough.
Many actuarial candidates do have some exams passed and decent technical skills. But, what will really make you stand out is if you have relevant experience too.
Relevant experience could be any position where you were responsible for analysing data, get a lot of exposure to insurance or financial products and concepts, or were tasked with doing a lot of data entry.
These may be positions like a data analyst, insurance underwriter, or financial services representatives, for example. I call these roles “stepping-stone positions” because they make the transition to an actuarial role so much easier than starting with no experience at all.
For most stepping-stone positions, knowing how to use Excel is very helpful. That’s why I recommend learning it first, before you start applying for these related types of positions.
Below is an interview with Kim, a member of the Actuary Accelerator Community who is currently working as an underwriter. She’s working toward becoming an actuary. In her underwriting position, she gets lots of exposure to insurance concepts, which will significantly improve her candidacy when she starts applying for actuarial jobs.
From this interview, you can learn how you may be able to get an underwriting position (which is a stepping-stone job) and what some of your responsibilities might be. You’ll also learn how underwriters may interact with actuaries.
Want more interviews like this? The above interview is taken directly from the Actuary Accelerator Community; there are lots more with entry-level actuaries, underwriters, data experts and career changers. They’re a great way to learn more about the actuarial and insurance industry and what you can expect later on in your actuarial journey.
Getting A Stepping-Stone Job
Once you’ve learned how to use Excel, you can then start looking for your stepping-stone position.
This in itself isn’t an easy undertaking but it’s important that you don’t skip it. If you have a hard time getting a stepping-stone job, you’re going to have an even HARDER time finding an actuarial job.
That’s because stepping-stone jobs aren’t as competitive as actuarial positions. So, you can think of your stepping-stone position like a “practice run” to prepare you for getting an actuarial job.
Did you know that you only have about 6 seconds to catch a hiring manager’s attention when they see your resume?
To give yourself the best chance of getting your stepping-stone job, first you have to make sure that your resume displays you in the best possible light. If you’re a career-changer, you have to show how your previous experience is relevant to the position that you’re going after.
Below is a brief video about how to create a resume that stands out. Although it’s aimed toward actuarial positions, everything is just as relevant to stepping-stone positions too. (But you probably won’t want to include your actuarial exams on your resume for stepping-stone jobs).
Putting It All Together
I’m sure you want to get into an actuarial role as soon as possible. That means you’ll have to start doing these other things now, so that by the time you’ve passed 1 or 2 more exams, you’ll be in great shape.
There are some other things you can be doing too, to increase your chances even more:
- Start networking using LinkedIn (that’ll allow you to expand your network and strengthen connections early so that later you may be able to get a job through your personal network).
- Immerse yourself in the actuarial world so that you learn all the concepts and can confidently talk about your knowledge during interviews and other actuarial conversations.
- Strengthen your Excel and VBA skills by completing projects and using your skills on-the-job so that you have a good understanding of how to apply your skills to real-world situations.
I know, there’s a lot to do. No worries though…
There’s an Actuarial Community for You!
As you know, the journey to becoming a top actuarial candidate and getting your first full-time job isn’t going to be easy. It’s a competitive job market out there!
In fact, you’ve already experienced the challenges that come with passing just one exam.
So, I’d like to introduce you to something that’ll help you make this dream come true as soon as possible.
It’s the Actuary Accelerator Community!
And since you’ve now passed your first exam, this is the perfect time to get involved.
You’ve already proven that you’re smart enough to pass actuarial exams. Now, it’s all about transforming yourself into one of the best actuarial candidates out there, so that you have lots of opportunities later on.
To commit 100% to the actuarial career, and start your transformation to a “top actuarial candidate” you can go here and learn all about the Actuary Accelerator Community.