Although many U.S. workers faced job elimination over the past year amid economic fallout related to COVID-19, opportunities remain for displaced workers and recent college graduates to find employment that can lead to productive and meaningful career paths.
Amid a challenging labor market and unsettling unemployment figures, the insurance industry may provide opportunity for job placement and career growth during this challenging time. As a whole, the industry has always been relatively stable and boasts a variety of robust long-term career opportunities.
For example, at West Bend Mutual Insurance there are 70 new positions the company is aiming to fill this year in a variety of areas that include underwriting, claims, service center positions and information technology among others. As department heads and company leaders consider candidates for these positions there will no doubt be applicants who don’t have experience working in the insurance industry, but do have skill sets that can easily transfer and provide the foundation for a successful placement.
The key for any organization, though, is finding the right people to support the products and services that drive ongoing growth and success.
For some careers, identifying the right job candidate means being open to individuals who may have different professional experiences, yet have the skill sets to thrive working for an insurance company. Given the times we’re in and the type of job applicants available, it’s even more important to hold to that ideal.
Backgrounds And Skill Sets
One industry sector adversely impacted by the pandemic has been the leisure and hospitality industry. The skill sets that are great fits for insurance-related jobs – customer service, attention to detail and organization, problem-solving, analytical skills and communication – usually can be found in individuals from the leisure and hospitality industry, who have regularly worked with customers to ensure satisfying experiences.
The following is a sampling of characteristics that insurance company leaders look for when filling specific job positions:
- Claims – Individuals should be organized and able to handle a fast-paced work environment. They should have the ability to maneuver through difficult situations and have the confidence to make decisions in those situations. Additionally, they need to have a customer service focus, empathy, investigative skills, communication skills and negotiation skills.
- Information technology - Individuals who get excited about problem solving, not just technical problems, but also business problems. They should be a quick study and adapt well to changing times. Good technical foundations are important, but someone who has a good attitude and shows the right potential is worth strong consideration.
- Service center positions – Individuals should have positive, upbeat attitudes, have empathy for others and understand what it means to work as a team toward a common goal in a fast-paced environment.
- Commercial underwriting – Individuals should be self-driven, confident, motivated, able to multitask and analyze data in addition to understanding basic computer applications. Additionally, candidates should have strong communication skills and the ability to negotiate. Those who pay attention to detail tend to do well in the underwriting role.
Fitting The Workplace Culture
Every organization is different and has its own unique work culture. This also plays a role in finding the right job candidate. Although individuals with different professional backgrounds can bring the right skill set for a job in the insurance industry, ensuring the individual will fit the workplace culture is also critical.
It remains important to identify individuals who are flexible, particularly during this time when COVID-19 continues to impact in-office work capabilities, and who enjoy coming to work (whether that’s in person or remote).
For insurers that work with independent agency partners, individuals who have an appreciation for developing and building a culture of teamwork and support will usually do well and find growth opportunities within the organization. Allowing for such personal and professional growth goes a long way toward building a stable and growing organization.
The past year has presented many challenges on different levels, including significant struggles for certain industry sectors. The insurance industry’s relative stability provides a great landing spot for displaced workers with the right skill sets and attitudes, and creates opportunity to strengthen and grow the industry’s talent pool.
Tracy Thom is senior human resource generalist with West Bend Mutual Insurance. Tracy may be contacted at email@example.com.
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