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mary03
August 15th 2006, 04:49 PM
I am having trouble landing my first actuarial job. I passed Exam P in Sept 2005, and started job hunting right away. I had two interviews, and both ended unsuccessfully. The people I interviewed with told me that they would feel more confident in my dedication to the field if I passed the second exam, or if I already had experience.

I sat for Exam FM in May, and the proctors for the exam were two of the people that had interviewed me! I panicked, and all I could think about was that unsuccessful interview! I didn't pass the test, so I am taking it again in November.

My problem is that I really want to get my actuarial career going. I am wasting time, and my current employer doesn't even understand what an actuary is, and is therefore not supportive. Is it possible to get an internship AFTER college? That seems like the only way I might land a job with only one exam and no experience. I know that internship positions are for current students, but I would be willing to take the minimal pay just to get the experience!!

Ken
August 15th 2006, 11:19 PM
I am having trouble landing my first actuarial job. I passed Exam P in Sept 2005, and started job hunting right away. I had two interviews, and both ended unsuccessfully. The people I interviewed with told me that they would feel more confident in my dedication to the field if I passed the second exam, or if I already had experience.

I sat for Exam FM in May, and the proctors for the exam were two of the people that had interviewed me! I panicked, and all I could think about was that unsuccessful interview! I didn't pass the test, so I am taking it again in November.

My problem is that I really want to get my actuarial career going. I am wasting time, and my current employer doesn't even understand what an actuary is, and is therefore not supportive. Is it possible to get an internship AFTER college? That seems like the only way I might land a job with only one exam and no experience. I know that internship positions are for current students, but I would be willing to take the minimal pay just to get the experience!!

Unless you're not open to relocation, two unsuccessful interviews isn't a good reason to stop interviewing. Don't kid yourself or the company, you don't want an internship. There are internships for people after college, but you don't want to be in a situation where they hire interns over the summer and look to re-hire them the next year. There are hundreds of companies out there and I'm sure at least one of them would be willing to hire you or are in a situation where they are desparate to hire anyone.

loae
August 16th 2006, 01:30 PM
Hello, I'm a new poster here.

I have also had very little luck with finding my first job as an actuary.
I graduated from Northwestern University with a major in Mathematics, and a GPA in the 3.0-4.0 range.
I passed exam P in September 2005 with a score of 10, and passed exam FM in May 2006 with a score of 8.

Maybe I'm just doing something wrong with my job search because I haven't even been able to get an interview! I've sent my resume to hundreds of places, I registered with DW Simpson and other head hunters. I've gotten employee referrals from friends who work at insurance companies, for open entry level actuary positions.

I've gotten half a dozen phone interviews or so. But I haven't had even one face-to-face interview.

It's only been a month since I got my exam FM score, but it's been rather discouraging.

Trojan_Horse
August 16th 2006, 01:43 PM
If you've had that many phone interviews and no request for a in-person interview, something is wrong. You need to evaluate your interviewing skills. Think carefully about the answers to their questions and about how you answered them. What you said is important but how you said it is sometimes more important. If you have questions about specific responses, let us know, we'll try to help. You may want to see an interviewing coach, maybe at Northwestern.

loae
August 16th 2006, 03:14 PM
If you've had that many phone interviews and no request for a in-person interview, something is wrong. You need to evaluate your interviewing skills. Think carefully about the answers to their questions and about how you answered them. What you said is important but how you said it is sometimes more important. If you have questions about specific responses, let us know, we'll try to help. You may want to see an interviewing coach, maybe at Northwestern.

Thank you. I will definitely reexamine my interview skills.

There are a lot of interview questions where I am unsure about my answer. I do find myself sounding very nervous during phone interviews.

I'll try contacting the career service department at Northwestern to see if I can get some coaching for interviews. Thank you for your advice.

I also have a big concern with most of my resumes just getting ignored. Is this common?

mary03
August 16th 2006, 03:31 PM
Thanks for the encouragement. I am determined to pass FM this November, and I think that will help. I am simply very very tired of my current job, and I really want to start applying my skills.

mreevit
August 16th 2006, 06:12 PM
Hello, I'm a new poster here.

I have also had very little luck with finding my first job as an actuary.
I graduated from Northwestern University with a major in Mathematics, and a GPA in the 3.0-4.0 range.
I passed exam P in September 2005 with a score of 10, and passed exam FM in May 2006 with a score of 8.

Maybe I'm just doing something wrong with my job search because I haven't even been able to get an interview! I've sent my resume to hundreds of places, I registered with DW Simpson and other head hunters. I've gotten employee referrals from friends who work at insurance companies, for open entry level actuary positions.

I've gotten half a dozen phone interviews or so. But I haven't had even one face-to-face interview.

It's only been a month since I got my exam FM score, but it's been rather discouraging.

I'm a bit shocked to see this. A top-tier school with strong gpa, 2 exams and no interviews! But employers see strong gpa's with exams passed all of the time. What I would work on is why you are different from the rest of the applicants.

Get a book on interviewing. Spend at least an hour a day formulating your own answers to the questions. Practice aloud. Smile when you talk on the phone. Seems silly, but when you smile your voice changes.

I'm confident this is the problem. I know this because I went to a much worse school and I only have one exam passed, but I have had 4 interviews, 1 offer, and I have 3 more scheduled interviews.

Also, try to be a little more proactive in your search. Call the actuaries and talk to them. Send them the resume directly and they might help move the application along quicker.


I have a couple of books that might be of interst to you that helped me a lot. Let me know and I'll send you the info.

mary03
August 16th 2006, 06:41 PM
mreevit, I am very interested in your interviewing resources. I am in a similar situation--B.S. in Math with 3.72 GPA, Exam P passed with a 9. I feel that I may have said something in the interviews that changed the interviewers' opinions. In one situation, I left feeling as though I had presented a very good impression, but they later told me that they decided to look for someone with more experience. Although it is possible that is true, I feel that if lack of experience was an issue, it would have been a reason not to consider me in the first place. I know I must have said something stupid. Thank you in advance for any information you share.

mreevit
August 16th 2006, 10:34 PM
mreevit, I am very interested in your interviewing resources. I am in a similar situation--B.S. in Math with 3.72 GPA, Exam P passed with a 9. I feel that I may have said something in the interviews that changed the interviewers' opinions. In one situation, I left feeling as though I had presented a very good impression, but they later told me that they decided to look for someone with more experience. Although it is possible that is true, I feel that if lack of experience was an issue, it would have been a reason not to consider me in the first place. I know I must have said something stupid. Thank you in advance for any information you share.

If this is the case, they may have invited you already with a decision in mind. I went to one of these interviews where they really didn't really ask many questions. I felt confident that this was a good sign, but then I got a similar response. They chose someone with a year of experience. In this situation - because of the lack of questions - I believe they already made the decision to offer the job to the other person before actually seeing them. That is, if this person could successfully speak to them without vomiting. I was the backup as it seems, and I feel this might have been the case for you as well. But I can't say for sure without more information.

The book that I have been using which is great for phone interviews is by Monster. The title is "Monster careers: Interviewing". This book is great for the phone interview, but maybe not for face-to-face interviews. I think this is because the actuarial interview is much more difficult than the average job's interview. I am 7/7 with phone interviews and this book has helped as I have worn the cover off of my copy.

Also, today I picked up 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions. I've been told this is a great survey book for interviewing in that it covers all the different types. I would expect it to be similar to the monster book.

So get one of these to set up the image that you want to sell. Think this: what makes me different than the other candidates? when you are coming up with answers. Also, make a sixty second pitch about yourself. This helps with the "Tell me about yourself" and on initial calls.

I'm also reading a book specifically on behavioral-based interviewing. This is the common format for the Face-to-Face. I suggest you do the same.

Ken
August 17th 2006, 12:14 AM
I don't know what companies you are interviewing with, but my company would not waste valuable time interviewing people they would have no chance in hiring. Whoever you're interviewing with, actuaries, SVPs, chief actuaries, even students, are paid to add value to the company. You wouldn't accept an offer from a company and then go interview with other companies. Your time isn't even valuable but you wouldn't waste it.

If you're also interviewing against someone with more experience and they get the position, it's because you didn't impress them in the interview. Interviewing's more than, Look at my shiny resumé. If you're hiring someone, you want someone that fits in with the company culture and someone with problem solving skills. It could be your personality doesn't fit with the company or you interview with no personality at all.

I'm sure you're nowhere near exhausting the list of companies I've already posted so you still have a lot of work to do.

mreevit
August 17th 2006, 10:11 AM
I don't know what companies you are interviewing with, but my company would not waste valuable time interviewing people they would have no chance in hiring. Whoever you're interviewing with, actuaries, SVPs, chief actuaries, even students, are paid to add value to the company. You wouldn't accept an offer from a company and then go interview with other companies. Your time isn't even valuable but you wouldn't waste it.

If you're also interviewing against someone with more experience and they get the position, it's because you didn't impress them in the interview. Interviewing's more than, Look at my shiny resumé. If you're hiring someone, you want someone that fits in with the company culture and someone with problem solving skills. It could be your personality doesn't fit with the company or you interview with no personality at all.

I'm sure you're nowhere near exhausting the list of companies I've already posted so you still have a lot of work to do.


I agree with you. This is true for most interviews, but I think my experience was an exception.

loae
September 14th 2006, 11:14 AM
I just wanted to post in this thread to say thanks for all the advice I received.

I did go back over general interview questions, and tried to show a little more personality during interviews.

Since then I had three telephone interviews, all of which have lead to a face-to-face interview and an offer.

Thanks for the advice!

cb400f
September 15th 2006, 11:09 AM
There are a lot of interview questions where I am unsure about my answer. I do find myself sounding very nervous during phone interviews.

Phone interviews can be tough. I've never had difficulty with interviews, but I found that phone interviews were a little more stressful for me than in-person interviews. In person I can read and respond to posture and expressions, but you don't have that advantage on the telephone.

One thing that's helped me tremendously (advice from a friend) has been to properly 'set the stage'. The energy you feel does translate through that phone line, so sit up straight or stand, smile, even dress for the occasion if that'll make you feel more confident or professional.

Getting a coach is great advice if you have access to that. I know there's also written advice on the subject.

Good luck!
________
Triumph Bonneville T100 (http://www.cyclechaos.com/wiki/Triumph_Bonneville_T100)

YKT
September 16th 2006, 06:49 PM
Hi all,

After I read this thread and a lot of replies, I had the same problems before I got my first job offer. I sent more than 120 resumes after I got my P exam result, and I had more than 10 phone interviews.

Also, except read some interview book to improve your interview and do a lot of practice. I believe one thing is also very important. "READ AND UNDERSTAND THE JOB DESCRIPTION AND DAILY RESPONSIBILITIES". That means you need to know what they need you to do and what you are going to do when they give you this offer. In my experience, I know a lot of people overlook this part (including me!!). I didn't realize I need to understand the job description until the interviewer asked me " This position need xxxx skill and your main responsibility is yyyyyy. What do you think your xxxx skill and how would you handle yyyyyyy??"

They might use some terminologies and you are not familiar with that, do some research, or post here, and I am sure someone can help you.

So, if the interviewer asks you this kind of question, you know how to handle this question to impress them (especially for entry level position).

hope this help

vtek
September 18th 2006, 12:13 PM
at first i thought that finding others in a similar boat as i am in was going to be comforting, but it's actually quite disheartening as it reflects an excess of supply of people with my skills which will make finding a good job very difficult. i have the first three exams under my belt and have just received my bachelor of mathematics degree in actuarial science from a recognised university this june, and the only phone interviews i have had so far have been with employment agencies like dw simpson, so no real interviews at all. i have only been looking for a little over two weeks, but not having any credible experience and a gpa that can be accurately described as '''' will not make this easy.

jstarderfan
September 19th 2006, 01:28 AM
Are you kidding me? I mean, I can't believe these stories. I was told (and have read) that passing the p-exam was pretty much the barrier to entry for this profession. (Through a contact that I have) I talked to an executive actuary of one of the biggest actuarial firms in the world located in one of the biggest cities in the world. He said, "yes, everything rests on the p-exam. Internships are nice, but only for an increase in initial base pay."

That, along with government websites saying that less people are sitting for the exams....outlook looks strong for those who can pass the exams.....etc. I don't get it.

I looked at the p-exam as a flag for a specific knowledge and intelligience. Much like the SATs. You do well on this exam, you have the knowledge and reasoning skills to become a valuable asset to this company (to do well at this university concerning the SATs).

If someone could please address these specific points, I would be grateful.

-Thomas

bcgraham
September 19th 2006, 12:22 PM
...

That, along with government websites saying that less people are sitting for the exams....outlook looks strong for those who can pass the exams.....etc. I don't get it.


Just curious if you could provide a link? That sounds very interesting.

Irish Blues
September 19th 2006, 02:49 PM
That, along with government websites saying that less people are sitting for the exams....outlook looks strong for those who can pass the exams.....etc. I don't get it.

http://www.soa.org/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset?asset_id=24674073 - SOA Exam Results, 1996-Present.

Look at how many people are taking Exams 2-4 (now FM, M, C). Those numbers aren't dropping. I don't know what your source is, but I guarantee the number of people taking exams isn't going down.

And yes ... the outlook is strong for those who can pass the exams. Passing 1 exam is one thing - showing you can pass 2 or 3 and are going to stick with it and gut the others out is quite another.

Cepheid
September 19th 2006, 09:01 PM
Geez, reading this thread has made me nervous. I have two Bachelor's degrees, neither of which is in Math or a related discipline, but my overall and major GPAs were pretty good. I've been out of college for several years and while I have been working, none of my jobs have had anything to do with actuarial science. If recent graduates with great GPAs and exams already passed are having a hard time finding a job, I'm glum about my prospects. I'm hoping to pass P/1 in November and then land an entry-level job soon after. I really want to leave my current job by the end of the year.

My strategy is to obtain some "informational" interviews with various companies so if I should land a real interview later, there will already be some level of familiarity. I also think I have good transferrable skills, like being able to use SAS and knowing Excel inside and out.

Any other suggestions for a career changer? I looked at beanactuary, but honestly, there's not much there.

Irish Blues
September 19th 2006, 10:04 PM
I've commented on how easy it is for someone to get a job with 1 exam passed in a thread that's stuck at the top of the General Discussion forum. If you only have 1 exam passed, it's not a guaranteed, "sorry - there's no way you can get a job" situation. If you have strong grades, can interview well, and can demonstrate a committment to passing the exams, you're look better (and have a better chance of getting hired) than someone with OK grades, 2-3 exams, and sort of thinks they'd like to be an actuary but isn't really sure and interviews OK but not great.

Everyone's situation is different, so there's no cookie-cutter, "If you can answer at least 7 of these 10 questions 'Yes' then you can get a job with just one exam passed" form floating around. That being said, I certainly would not bank on just passing one exam, getting an interview, and waltzing from office to office impressing the interviewers so much that they're awestruck by you and offer you a job before you walk out the door.

In short: is it possible to get a job with 1 exam? Of course it is - but in general your chances are better if you have more than 1 exam under your belt.