C-Suite Insight: Sharpen Your Skills and Never Stop Learning

shutterstock_176015801-webAs leaders of their company, C-suite executives are often viewed as extraordinary figures who have reached what seems to be the highest point of their professional game. It is sometimes assumed that these individuals have little to improve upon since they are in such an esteemed position. This is simply not true. The real key to success as a C-level executive is the ability to continue developing and honing crucial skills, while also having a passion to continually learn new things.

Below are two of the top skills that every C-suite executive should possess.

  • Adaptability- As the famous quote by Heraclitus states, “One thing that is constant is change.” In the Property Casualty insurance industry, those words are truer than ever. From an increased influx of millennial employee hires to new technologies that affect daily processes, the industry is in a constant state of change. A C-suite executive’s ability to adapt to and embrace this change is a skill that is crucial to their success, and has a two-pronged significance. First, upper level management must be able to continually adapt to unexpected situations and decipher the best action to take for the betterment of the company. Everyone, clients and colleagues alike, look to the C-suite to lead through times of change by making the crucial decisions that count. Second, C-suite executives should also be the one to create and implement this change. Possessing an innovative mindset that continually seeks out and welcomes new processes and perspectives is what will make themselves and their company truly successful.
  • Relationship-building- Every company is made up of different kinds of employees and deals with all types of clients. As leaders, the members of the C-suite must know how to successfully build and maintain relationships in order for their business to thrive. In a Q &A article by Carrier Management, Farmers Insurance Group Chief Operations Officer (COO) David Traverse says, “I believe with all my heart that you should never take this job if you do not like interacting with people,” when asked about the required qualities of a COO. He goes on to say, “We are paid to be on our game—to manage relationships, and to do it in a way that gives comfort and security to the people that are counting on us. It’s a people job.”

In addition to possessing important skills, upper level employees in the Property Casualty insurance industry need to be committed to continual learning. Successful C-suite leaders know that they must continue to grow, both personally and professionally, if they want to see success for their company and themselves.

Below are two steps company leaders can take to continue career development: 

  • Ask for feedback. One of the easiest ways to learn more about how you can maintain current success or even improve in your position is to simply ask the opinions of those around you. One of the greatest gifts a leader can ever receive is feedback. From the members of your team to your supervisors, everyone can bring a fresh perspective you may initially miss because you are focused in your current responsibilities. These are the people who know your company and industry, so their opinion can be incredibly valuable to the advancement of your career. Feedback fuels the truest form of professional development. 
  • Continue your education. An article by Brett Gleason in Inc.com says, “Leaders usually know that their people need training and development. The smartest leaders understand that the same applies to them–and that the need is ongoing.” Even in a C-level position, there is still so much left to learn and achieve. You’ve invested so much in your initial education and career thus far, stopping when you are in the most influential and important position is a mistake. Whether it’s going back to school, acquiring new certifications, attending educational conferences or seeking out a mentor, there are several ways to pursue self-improvement and career development.

Property Casualty Insurance Careers: Does Your Grade Point Average Really Matter?

The debate on whether one’s grade point average (GPA) can impact his or her career has been a popular topic for years. Many career experts feel that it plays a major role in an employer’s decision to hire someone, while others believe that hiring managers don’t consider it a true indicator of one’s professional abilities. Though there are arguments for both sides of the matter, it is important to know that if you’re considering a career in Property Casualty insurance; your GPA matters.shutterstock_172077230-web

When pursuing a job in insurance, especially with the larger carriers, insurance recruiting experts would advise that the most successful path starts by entering a company’s professional associate program, also known as a trainee or development program. What many young professionals don’t realize is that having a 3.0 overall GPA (or higher) gives them a much greater chance of being accepted into these programs right out of college. The following major carriers list a preferred GPA of 3.0 or higher as a requirement for almost all of their internship, training, development or early immersion programs:

If a graduate doesn’t complete college with a competitive GPA, they will more likely have to enter the insurance industry at a standard entry-level position where they then must work their way up the ladder. These two routes can have very different salary ranges, and those entering into entry level positions as opposed to getting into a trainee program may never truly catch up in terms of earnings.

Some may feel that they would be able explain the reasons for their lower GPA during the interview process and would then be considered for a position, but they may never get the chance. A lower GPA can affect their chances of even being called in for an interview. An article by Collegiate Gateway reported, “According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2013 survey, the percentage of employers who screen candidates by GPA reached an all-time high this past year: 78.3% of the survey’s 200 respondents. Of these same respondents, 63.5 percent of respondents reported a “cut-off” (or minimum GPA required for consideration) of exactly 3.0, with just over 20 percent using a GPA cutoff greater than 3.0.”

Overall, it is evident that a graduate’s GPA can play major part in their professional success, especially in insurance. This industry is growing at a rapid rate and attracting more young talent than ever before. Recent grads must do everything they can to stand out from their peers to land a great Property Casualty insurance job.

Key Steps to Consider When Reevaluating Your Human Resource Costs

shutterstock_226614253_webReevaluating and improving human resource efficiency is vital to the success of any Property Casualty insurance company, especially when employee turnover can be so costly. An article by Insurance Business America stated, “…a November 2012 study from the Center for American Progress found that for positions earning less than $75,000—including most insurance producers—the cost of firing and hiring a new employee was roughly 20% of that position’s salary.” This means that a bigger emphasis is being placed on getting the hiring process right, making it even more important for every human resource department to take a closer look at their company’s candidate recruitment strategies and expenses.

When reevaluating human resource costs:

1. Determine if your organization has a ‘spend’ or ‘invest’ mindset. When asking human capital questions to hiring leaders, pay close attention to their responses. If the overwhelming responses to your questions are “how much is it going to cost?”, then you are likely part of a ‘spend’ culture. Conversely, if you are consistently asked “what is the expected return if we do this?”, then you are probably working in an ‘invest’ culture. These are two very different environments and understanding how to best deliver services to support the organization can drive everything including culture, attracting, hiring and retention strategies, metrics and recognition programs.   

2. Continually assess your hiring strategies, processes and budget. If you are spending or investing most of your time and money on recruiting and hiring whether internally or via third party, is it paying off? Make sure you are evaluating and measuring the right human resource strategies to really know if they are functioning in the most efficient way for your company. Items like reducing recruitment expenses or improving your investment return are key items to take into consideration. Should you insource or outsource recruitment efforts? If you decide to insource, you must develop processes that ensure your internal recruiters are solely working on recruiting needs. If you outsource, selecting the right recruitment firm for your company must be a priority to ensure human resource efficiency.

3. Find the most qualified insurance recruitment firm/recruiter for your company’s needs. When outsourcing your hiring efforts, your company must decide if hiring a recruitment firm or a specific recruiter will work best for your hiring needs. There is a big difference. When you hire a recruitment firm, you aren’t guaranteed to get the same recruiter every time. If you hire a specific recruiter, this means you are intentionally hiring a specific person to be the only one to conduct your searches. In either scenario, your company must seek out firms and recruiters that have a proven track record, impeccable referrals, large networks and are experts in all aspects of your industry. These are a few key qualities that will produce a qualified candidate in a timely manner; saving your human resource department time and money.

4. Ensure you are utilizing your internal/external recruitment strategies efficiently. If you decide to keep recruitment efforts as an internal responsibility through an in-house recruiter, make sure processes are in place to minimize distractions so that recruiting efforts are their sole focus. Often times, internal recruiters can get pulled into the other realms of human resources for various reasons. If your company decides to outsource through recruitment firms, be sure you are comfortable with their recruiting process, expertise and the type of search being conducted. Consider initially hiring only one or two firms or recruiters if you are conducting a contingent search to source potential candidates. Some companies think that using more recruiters to find employees will result in a larger pool of qualified candidates to choose from. This is not always true. In most cases, firms use many of the same methodologies to identify candidates; therefore you essentially end up with multiple companies contacting the same candidates.  This creates marketplace confusion and sometimes lessens a candidate’s desire to pursue your opportunity. Keep in mind, candidate identification is only part of the process, the best recruiters are also able to access and influence candidates based on their deep relationships, industry knowledge and personal experience.  

5. Implement the most effective type of search. When using a recruitment firm, you should be able to match your position and budget with one of the firm’s search options.  For example, if a company is looking to attract exceptional executive level leaders while learning about passive executive talent across the nation, a retained search may be the best option.  If a company is looking to hire key individual contributors and/or maximize their candidate pool, perhaps a contingent search should be utilized.  Or, if hiring high quality, management level candidates is necessary, consider using a customized blend of retained and contingent search features.

Finding Success by Considering an Insurance Career in a Specialized Market

Whether you’re just beginning your insurance career or you’ve already built a strong background in the industry and are considering a change, there are many avenues within the Property Casualty insurance industry to consider and pursue. There are several specialized markets that offer incredible professional opportunities and can provide career longevity due to their specific nature.shutterstock_115905412_web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are examples of three fast-growing, niche markets of the Property Casualty insurance industry you may want to consider entering:

  • Agribusiness Insurance covers the insurance and risk management needs of agriculture and farm operations and is not limited to areas of dairy operations, ranch and equine operations and much more.  Whether you have a background in the agriculture industry through a prior career in farming or education concentration or you have a genuine interest in the industry, it is definitely a specialized insurance sector to consider because agribusiness is and always will be a crucial part of our economy.
  • Boiler and Machinery Breakdown Insurance covers the costly physical and financial damage that can result from an equipment breakdown (definition source: Hartford Steam Boiler). This market may be appealing to those insurance professionals with a naval or engineering background as they may already have a proficiency in this area. This sector is growing at a rapid rate and is often now referred to as equipment breakdown insurance as it covers more items such as computers, electric motors and generators adding an even greater need for qualified insurance professionals.
  • Ocean Marine Insurance covers the transportation of goods and/or merchandise by vessels crossing both foreign and domestic waters including any inland or aviation transit associated with the shipment. This type of marine insurance also encompasses coverage for damage to the vessels involved in shipments and any legal liability arising in the course of shipment (definition source: International Risk Management Institute).  In an article about ocean marine coverage by Property Casualty 360°, Travelers’ Ocean Marine President Bill Queens says, “Most of the people in this industry come from a maritime background, and they have a language that’s unique to that environment.”  He then goes on to stress how important it is for Ocean Marine insurance agents to educate themselves on the specific language of the maritime industry. If you have prior naval or mariner career experience or are knowledgeable on nautical terminology, this may be an insurance sector to consider for your career.

Many people also may not initially consider careers in these ultra-specialized areas of insurance because they feel they may not be qualified due to the specific knowledge or training that is required, but this is a misconception. Property Casualty insurance companies are often willing to assist employees with the specific training or certifications necessary to fulfill the position if they feel the person is or can be an asset to their company. If you do already have specified skills or a background that pertains to a certain sector like agribusiness or ocean marine, that can also give you an edge over other candidates.

If you are interested in moving into one of these specific insurance markets and feel you are already qualified, contact Coleman Search Group today. If you are interested in learning more about these niche markets, we encourage you to research them by visiting sources like Property Casualty 360° and Insurance Journal for more information on specialized Property Casualty insurance jobs.

Women in Insurance: Industry Insights on How to Chart a Successful Career

Blog #2The Property and Casualty Insurance sector has historically been viewed as a “male-dominated” industry, meaning men hold the majority of the upper management positions. Property Casualty 360  reported last year, “At the largest insurers and reinsurers women held only 6 percent of top executive positions, 12.5 percent of board seats, and 8 percent of inside business, legal or actuarial officer roles such as chief actuary or division president, according to a recent industry study by St. Joseph’s University Academy of Risk Management and Insurance.” Coleman Search Group recently asked top-level female executives if they would share their perspectives to provide insights that may help other women excel in the insurance industry and improve statistics by landing more influential leadership positions.

As one Commercial Lines Sales and Marketing Vice President for a major insurance carrier progressed in her career, she found it harder to overcome the proverbial “glass ceiling.” She feels that even though the industry is benefitting from diversity, there still seems to be a preference for male-oriented leadership styles in many upper level positions. That being said, she has found career success through taking a positive perspective on any opportunities she has faced in the industry. She comments, “I don’t really see things as obstacles. Everything is a problem to be solved and some are more difficult than others.”

A Senior Vice President and Chief Claims Officer for a major insurance carrier said for her, one of the biggest issues she has faced is ensuring women are effectively supporting and encouraging each other to reach their full potential. She says, “I have had several women champions over the course of my career and without them I doubt I would be where I am today.”

Here are some key points they shared with Coleman Search Group to help other women be successful in reaching higher-level positions in the insurance industry:

1. Stay educated and informed on the trends and new facets of the industry. The Commercial Lines Sales and Marketing Vice President says, “The insurance industry needs new ideas, new ways of thinking. Technology and data analytics are transforming the industry for the better, making insurance careers more attractive.”  Insurance companies are always looking for candidates that are on top of the latest trends and developments in the industry. Continually pushing yourself to learn more, stepping outside of your comfort zone by taking on new responsibility or volunteering for high visibility projects may be what sets you apart from other employees and candidates pursuing those attractive opportunities. Obtaining additional insurance designations will also help to position you as a key candidate for many high-level positions. One of the executives stated that obtaining a Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation and a Senior Claims Law Associate (SCLA) designation were keys to her success.

2. Use your personal strengths and interests to succeed. The Chief Claim Officer indicated, “There are so many career paths within the insurance industry to choose from, and the work can be very meaningful.  Find the area of work that you enjoy most.  For some people that area is loss prevention and mitigation; for others it is helping injured workers get back to work.  What is so great about this industry is that there are many options available to you. If you are willing to navigate for that right fit, it can be an awesome career.

3. Evaluate yourself regularly and be open to adjusting your work style to excel. According to the Commercial Lines Sales and Marketing executive, “Self-awareness is a great place to start.  Ensure that you are fair and objective in your position on issues, and that your interactions reflect that integrity.  Show confidence and assuredness, but not arrogance.  If you persevere in that manner, you will be accepted, valued and elevated into positions of influence.

4. Be open to new opportunities (even if it scares you). “As more women move up in the industry it is necessary to develop a broader skill set. Be voracious about learning new things and jump at opportunities, even when you think you might not be quite ready for them,” explains the Chief Claims Officer.

The insurance industry is always evolving, and women continue to make great strides every day. Soon, more women will hold high-level positions bringing even more gender balance to this ever-changing field.

How Generation X and Y Can Succeed in a Business of Baby Boomers

Generationx blog picThe workplace is filled with all kinds of employees who have different personalities and traits. People from every race, religion, sex and political affiliation are often brought together by their place of employment. In addition, a company’s staff also consists of employees from multiple generations including Baby Boomers, Generation X and now, Generation Y (also known as “Millennials”). Over the last few years, “generational gaps in the workplace” has been a hot topic and the subject of many studies and articles.

Until recently, the insurance industry has consisted primarily of employees from the Baby Boomer generation. As time evolves and companies become more reliant on technology and social media for success and efficiency, more members of Generation X and Y are being interviewed by insurance recruiters. This doesn’t mean Generation X and Y employees are more valued than Baby Boomers, but it does mean that it is advantageous for Generation X and Y employees/candidates to be cognizant of the generational gaps that do exist in the workplace. Being informed and prepared on how to be successful at bridging the generational gap in the office will only help Generation X and Y candidates land, maintain and succeed in those great insurance jobs.

If you’re unsure of how generational differences may play out in the workplace, here are some example scenarios and tips on how best to approach them:

1. Phone Call or Meeting vs. Email or Text– Although email has been used as a professional and efficient way to communicate for several decades, there is great value in a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting. Members of Generation X or Y have grown up in a world of immediate responses while Baby Boomers grew up on the belief that taking time to build and sustain relationships meant everything. It is important to know that even if something can be accomplished faster via email or text, a meeting or phone call may be more suitable for certain situations. Being able to determine the best communication platform with your Baby Boomer colleagues will help you form better working relationships. Also, as texting becomes the latest communication trend, keep in mind that it is relatively new for Baby Boomers and may be the least preferred communication forum. It is crucial for Generation X and Y employees to be open to verbal communication and to know which form of communication is preferred by colleagues in various situations.

2. Use of Social Media Websites-There is no doubt that social media plays a huge role in everyday life for many people. Most of the world uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or is at least aware that these sites exist. Although most members of Generation X and Y find social media to be incredibly advantageous and entertaining, it’s important to note that Baby Boomers may not feel the same way. Again, this technology has not always existed during their career and has possibly caused their work responsibilities and style to change in a big way. In most cases, Baby Boomers are just as excited as Generation X and Y to talk about the exciting things happening in their personal lives, but may not be comfortable sharing that information with the thousands of people it can now reach through social media. It is also important make an effort to build and sustain Boomer relationships on more than just a social media level. In some instances, that may require a Generation X and Y employee to avoid posting photos or even discussing your most recent social media update while working. Many Baby Boomers have a more traditional view on work place conduct and may feel updating Facebook or posting a photo on Instagram is not an appropriate task to be conducted during work hours.

3. Work Style and Environment-Members of every generation know that hard work pays off, but work style, approach and environment may differ greatly. The Baby Boomer generation may be used to a more traditional office setting with a quiet, organized, neutral-toned work space where they can concentrate on the task at hand. Generation X and Y employees may find a more colorful, creative-conscious and lively atmosphere inspires their best work. For example, a Generation X and Y employee may find that listening to music through ear buds or using colorful office supplies and décor helps them do their best work, but a Baby Boomer may see those things as off putting or distracting. If you are a Generation X or Y, you should be conscious of these possible opinions and respect different work methods and environment preferences by knowing when to use these items appropriately.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to the varying work styles in a multi-generational office environment. Being mindful of the different preferences of your colleagues in every generational group will help you be successful when seeking great insurance jobs. With Baby Boomers still playing such a major role in the insurance industry, companies are looking for candidates who are aware of this and can adapt easily.

How IT Professionals Can Be A Perfect Insurance Match

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In recent news, cyber-warfare is a top risk for the insurance industry to minimize. The article on the Top 10 Extreme Risks for the Insurance Industry includes cyber-warfare and major data compromising risk factors. What does this mean in terms of personnel changes within the property/casualty insurance field? IT professionals can prove to be of major value to insurance companies in this technological age.

IT professionals are continuously researching and staying at the forefront of information technology securities and strategies. With cyber-warfare being a top risk to the Insurance Industry in 2014, IT professionals are a priceless asset in the prevention and response of cyber-attacks.

The recent data breach of Target stores shows us that a security breach of financial and sensitive personal information does more damage than the cyber-attack itself. The hacker security attack caused Target’s 4th quarter profits to drop by a whopping 46%. As we can see, security breaches of this magnitude cause business to come to a screeching halt and financial losses of emergency proportion snowball until security response strategies are implemented. Better yet, cyber liability and breach protection/prevention is key and IT professionals are the key keepers.

Malicious hackers are using new techniques every day to crash government and private websites. The Wall Street Journal recently reported an international record-breaking cyber-attack just this past February and it has the IT world buzzing.

IT professionals learn from past attacks to help create heightened security with new strategies that thwart off the ever evolving malicious techniques cyber attackers are using. These are just a few of the reasons why insurance companies need highly trained and experienced cyber security professionals on their team.

We have access to highly trained IT professionals in our candidate pool that we can easily source to match you with the right person to fill this niche position. Having an IT professional on your product team will allow you to offer a more secure tech world for your clients. Let us know what you are looking for in an IT candidate and we will put our experience to work for you in sourcing the best qualified IT candidate for the job.

Thinking Outside The Box For Your Job Search

Picture 3Where can I source the right job for me? It’s a common question many people have when looking for a job or considering a career change.  Sometimes thinking beyond the scope of what you are used to can prove to be the answer you are seeking.  Of the industries that are succeeding and growing, insurance companies are near the top.

Within the insurance industry Technology and Agriculture are two of the fastest growing segments.  Did you know that insurance companies are seeking experienced agriculture team members to be experts on agriculture insurance? Were you aware that experienced technology skills can be of great value to an insurance company that provides cyber-security and other technology insurance products?  It’s a case of combining your expertise with a company’s needs, even if your skill set might not be insurance related.  From agri-business insurance to technology, skills from all ends of the spectrum can be of great benefit to the insurance sector.

CSG is here to review your resume and talk with you in detail about your experience and expertise.  Together, we may discover that you have those special-niche skills that companies are in dire need of.

Contact us and let us help source the right job for you based on your experience and qualifications.  Connect with CSG founder, Darryl Coleman, on LinkedIn to begin your professional growth journey with CSG.

HOW TO SET YOURSELF APART FROM THE REST

shutterstock_116205967Today, the world is full of job seekers. How can you set yourself apart from the rest? Coleman Search Group (CSG) can coach you and give you the personalized attention that will assist you in preparing to share your expertise and attributes with those who will review your resume and call you for an interview. The property/casualty insurance field is a specialized market. The top insurance companies trust us to recommend and identify the talent they require in a candidate.

You may find yourself feeling at a loss for how to best differentiate yourself from the others who are also posting their resumes and seeking that hard to land interview. It’s more than submitting your resume for review and writing an awe inspiring cover letter, it’s knowing where the decision makers go to source potential candidates.

We refer top insurance agencies to the best-suited candidates for the job based on our first-hand knowledge of each of our candidates. You’re not just a person on paper. We get to know you. Our personalized approach is how we set our self apart from the rest. In turn it’s how we set you apart from the rest. Because we are known as a trusted source for companies searching for qualified candidates, getting yourself in our candidate pool puts you ahead of other applicants.

We help you succeed by getting to know you and your professional goals. We talk candidly with you about where you want to be and how your experience can set you on the path to professional success.

Whether you are wanting to talk to us about fine-tuning your interview skills, reviewing and revamping your resume, or promoting your skills and qualifications to the roster of insurance agencies we consult with, we can help. Helping you be more than a needle in a haystack is what we do best. Insurance agencies call on us to save them the time of sifting through the hay bales and source THE one they are looking for. When we introduce you to a company, they will take notice because you are coming from CSG.

Relocation… it isn’t what it used to be

header-relocationI’m certainly dating myself when I say I remember the days when insurance companies and most of corporate America not only enticed you to relocate, but they paid you to do so! I moved ten times during my 20 year corporate career. Some of the moves were great, and I earned a sales bonus for selling my home before the company had to take it into their inventory to be sold later. Some of the moves were not so great, especially when I did not sell my home for what I thought it was worth, or even worse … I was not able to sell my home and had to accept the corporate buy out. Whether it was a good or bad move based on my limited criteria, I never had to worry about moving without some form of corporate financial support. Well, those times have passed us by, and now you are very fortunate to find companies willing to provide any financial support (and finding a company that still offers to buy your home if you cannot sell it is next to impossible!).

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