Knowing what qualifications you need to get your dream career in insurance is only half the battle, you will also need to know what skills graduate employers look for beyond your qualifications.
So what skills do graduate employers look for?
In this article, we look at the different skills graduate recruiters want you to demonstrate, from soft skills to the more technical to help you secure your dream insurance role.
What skills do employers seek in their graduate recruits?
Naturally, the skills you need for a job vary from industry to industry and from job to job, but there are skills that are valued by employers across the board. These are referred to as soft skills, and while in the past they have been considered secondary to hard skills they are now considered more important than ever.
The core soft skills that employers look for include:
- Literacy and numeracy
- Time management and organisation
- Oral and written communication
- Creative problem-solving
- Initiative and enterprise
- Critical and analytical thinking
- Ability to apply discipline, knowledge and concepts
- Information gathering, evaluation and synthesis
- Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
How do I demonstrate soft skills in an interview?
As you can see, many of the above skills are quite abstract and therefore can be hard to demonstrate in an interview.
Some of these skills can be measured through testing, such as through personality or aptitude tests, of which are becoming quite common in graduate interviews. However, other skills will be measured through competency-based questions.
For example; ‘Give me an example of when you worked well in a team’
The best way to answer these questions is by using the STAR Principles, and you can read more about them here. This method will ensure that you answer the question clearly and concisely, emphasising on how your soft skills led to your success.
What skills do insurance employers seek in their graduate recruits?
When applying for graduate insurance roles, there are more specific skills that you will have to demonstrate to graduate recruiters. These are a range of soft and hard skills, of which are more specific to the insurance sector.
What qualifications do insurance employers look for?
You don’t have to be a maths genius to work in insurance, but you do need to be comfortable with numbers. You should have a B at GCSE Maths, but you do not need to have it at A-Level.
Degree requirements vary from employer to employer, with some looking for a 2:1 in any discipline, some a 2:2 and others require you to have a degree in a numerate subject. If you are a school leaver, then again the requirements vary. Some may require BBB at A-Level and others just UCAS points. Some may also prefer you to have an A-Level in Maths or Business Studies.
What hard skills do insurance employers look for?
As well as qualifications, you will also need to demonstrate other hard skills that you may have learnt either through your degree or through internships or work experience.
Skills such as;
- Good mathematical knowledge
- Some degree of mathematical knowledge is required to work in insurance especially if you are looking to become an actuary, and you should have a working knowledge of statistics, algebra and calculus.
- IT skills
- While you do not have to be proficient in a particular type of software, a good knowledge of Excel and the ability to pick up computer software quickly is a huge bonus
Of course, graduate employers don’t expect you to be able to master of these skills, and you will learn many of the more specialist skills on the job. However, any specialist knowledge that you have picked up through your degree or work experience should be highlighted. Don’t forget, your skills do not equate with your qualifications, and should be treated separately.
What soft skills do accountancy employers look for?
There are specific soft skills that will be more helpful than others when applying for accountancy graduate roles.
- Customer service skills
- Insurance professionals communicate with audiences of all types, from businesses to people unsure which type of coverage to get. Therefore, working in insurance requires you to have great customer service skills.
- Project management
- You may find yourself working on multiple projects at once, therefore, having good project management skills will come in handy
- Commercial awareness
- Show the recruiters that you have an interest in the insurance industry, and that you know the challenges facing the sector today. Recruiters want to know that you know about the industry and the business trends that impact it. Subscribing to publications such as Insurance Age will ensure you keep up to date on the latest hot topics.
Hopefully this has given you some idea of what skills graduate recruiters look for, and the more specific skills insurance employers look for. Both soft and hard skills are equally important; particularly as a graduate you may not have acquired some of the more specialist hard skills quite yet. When looking at the skills asked for by employers, take some time to think about the skills listed above and try writing down some examples of how you have put these skills into practice during your studies, through work experience or socially. Use this as a basis for the examples you will no doubt be asked to provide during the application process.
Most of all, you will need perseverance – be prepared for the fact that you might have to make several applications before being accepted onto a graduate scheme and don’t give up!