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Thread: Graduating soon and I have a few questions...

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Newbie Poster
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Graduating soon and I have a few questions...

    Hello everyone,

    First, a bit of background: I'll be graduating with an M.A. in Applied Mathematics with a Mathematical Statistics minor in May, and I'm about to start looking for actuarial positions. Also, my undergraduate degree is in Finance. I have a strong academic record (3.94 graduate GPA, 3.17 undergrad [but 3.79 in my major]). I was hoping to get some input on the following:

    1. Please have a look at my attached resume. What do you think? Any suggestions would be very appreciated. Please let me know if there are any formatting issues or things that you think I should omit, add, or emphasize differently. Are there any glaring weak spots or particularly strong points? I don't know any actuaries personally, so this input is especially valuable.

    2. For those of you who are in a position to hire new actuaries, would you contact me if I applied to your firm? Why or why not?

    3. I'm in Southeast Michigan, and I'd like to stay in the area. Does anyone have any information on the employment outlook for actuaries in my area? Are there particular companies that I should keep my eyes on for opportunities?

    4. If a company has no openings posted, is it worthwhile to send a cover letter and resume anyway? If so, to whom should such a message be addressed?

    5. Are there any particularly good places to search for actuarial jobs online? I've searched Monster, CareerBuilder, and Indeed, and I'd like to know if there are some resources that I may be missing.

    6. What is the biggest piece of advice that you would give to someone trying to enter the field right now?

    Thanks in advance for your time and input; it is greatly appreciated! If there are good answers to some of these questions elsewhere on the site, I apologize for missing them. Thanks again!
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by ThisOneGuy; November 24th 2010 at 03:40 AM.

  2. #2
    Actuary.com - Level III Poster
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    I'll make a few comments about your resume. Look through some other posts in the forum, and you will find some answers to other questions.

    First, I do think you should make a good candidate (I say that as a job candidate myself, not a hiring manager). Not only do you have an advanced degree, but you have experience that should be relevant. But I do think there is a lot of room for improvement in the resume itself, and here are some ideas.

    - I know it's demoralizing, but it needs to be shortened. For an entry level job applicant in just about any field, you typically want your resume to fit on a page.
    - I think the entire "Relevant Coursework" sections is unnecessary, but if you want to keep some of it, only keep a handful of courses listed that you think will be especially impressive.
    - You probably don't need to say which courses you taught.
    - For the papers, the description is undecipherable to me, and I have a Ph. D. in mathematics. I expect that the hiring manager will neither understand nor need to understand. In fact, you could compress that to "two published papers" or something to that effect. For my resume, I have a bullet point stating the number of publications, and that's it for papers.
    - With the tutoring, again you don't need to list all the classes. However, the bit about communication is important, and you may want to move that elsewhere in your resume and/or prominently state it in your cover letter.
    - For the Summer Seminar series, I would drop the second and third bullet points. Ask yourself: why is this worth putting on the resume? I think that answer is that it illustrates leadership and initiative on your part, so you might try to emphasize that point more.
    - Exam 2/FM: Fall 2011? I presume that's a typo, but if not, don't list an exam that you are planning to take so far in the future. I would state the month, rather than the season, if you know that. There are differences of opinion as to whether you should include exams you haven't taken yet, but I think you should.
    - In the "Objective" section, try phrasing it without any first-person pronouns. You want it to sound crisp and bold. Consider this phrasing: To use my unique combination of financial analysis, quantitative, and communication skills to become a successful actuary and to attain Fellowship. At the end, you could say "to attain FSA/FCAS designation" and be sure to use the right one depending on the company.
    - Consider the relative importance of the headers. The more important ones should come earlier. I would recommend rearranging them, but I'm not sure what would be the best order.

    As a general thought, most career advisors will tell you that your resume exists to answer three questions: "Can I do the job?", "Will I do the job?" (that is, will I have the motivation/work ethic), and "Will I fit in?" Everything on the resume should exist to answer at least one of those three questions, and if it, then it's not relevant. Well, I know that's a lot of criticism, but I hope it helps.

  3. #3
    Actuary.com - Newbie Poster
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Thanks a lot. That's EXACTLY the type of useful criticism I was hoping for. Criticisms duly noted, and adjusted. In fact, I used your suggestion for the "Objective" section; it sounded much better. I knew there were things that could be trimmed, but I was not 100% which things would be most appropriate.

    I've edited my above post to include a revised version of the resume. I think the new version gives more of the "highlights."

    Please keep the comments coming!

  4. #4
    Actuary.com - Level III Poster
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    I'm glad to help. It looks much better now, though here are a few more thoughts.

    - A word from the grammar police: a split infinitive, such as "to clearly explain", is controversial. If you think it's worth the trouble, rephrase to avoid it.
    - You might combine "Awards" and "Other Activities" into a single section in order to reduce the number of top level sections.
    - I think that computer skills are important enough to list right after "Actuarial Exams". Then again, this might depend on how heavily computer skills are emphasized on the job description.
    - If it doesn't cause the resume to spill over a page, you might reformat the "Computer Skills" section a bit, since it's a little hard to read right now. One idea is to have a bullet points for each category of computer skills, as follows:
    * Mathematical software: ''''' 11 and 12 (though do you really need to list both?), Strata 11, Matlab 7
    * Programming Skills: ...
    * Microsoft Office Suite (...)
    * LaTeX (though I'm not sure if this should be listed)
    * Very short learning curve ...
    Also, make sure you list them in order of relevance. MS Office is usually expected, sometimes programming skills and mathematical software are too, and so you might change the order depending on the job application.
    - Another thought on the computer skills, which someone else suggested to me recently. Also indicate your level of skill. You might say "Advance Access" instead of "Access" (if you think that's accurate), and in parentheses indicate the most advanced functions you can do.

    Best of luck to you.

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