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Old 10-01-2013, 12:22 PM
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A Blind Squirrel A Blind Squirrel is offline
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Default Some Entry Level Cover Letter/Resume Advice

Hello friends.

So as a service to this great message board, I wish to relay to you some advice about sending out cover letters/resumes to potential job opening that may not be widely available elsewhere on this site.

As a primer, this advice relates specifically to situations in which you are contacting one of the actuaries or actuarial staff involved in the hiring process. If you are contacting a huge company's HR department, this advice may be not be relevant as they may have automated processes that look for specific things I am advising against.

This advice comes from 2 years of vetting entry level applications and the various things I have seen within that time. It is my opinion only, but I believe it is good advice that may be helpful, as some aspects are things done, I believe, incorrectly very frequently and is non-obvious advice that may make you stand out. Ok here goes:

1) If your resume is weak or not-exceptional, your cover letter needs to briefly cover why you would be a good candidate and sell your tangible 'benefit-add'. Saying that you have "can work well within teams or individually" tells me literally NOTHING about what you would bring. Do you expect other people are putting "I work well on a team, but really suck individually" and this will make you stick out? Tell me something tangible you have done, or put nothing at all about it. Which brings me to my second point:

2) As mentioned, this is advice when contacting someone working in actuarial, not HR. If your cover letter is an attached pdf that is a page long, there is a 99% chance it will not get read. It's not a strike against you, but again if your resume is not exceptional, you will not have an opportunity to sell yourself in any way.

3) If you live far away, explain why, or at least obviously state that, you are willing/interested in relocating to the location you are applying for. A small or medium sized company may not have the time or resources to interview people who would rather stay in their location and are just applying for the job there because they are applying 'everywhere'.

4) Make sure the exams in your resume are obviously visible. This is the most important part of your resume, do not make me look for them.

5) There is absolutely no reason at all a resume needs to have an 'objective' if you are applying for a specific position and you say obviously in your cover letter what position you are applying for (specifically if you are contacting actuarial staff). If you want to have an objective it should be one sentence long and that's it. I don't care that you are 'committed to pursuing an FSA designation and want to find a fast-paced rewarding job in the actuarial industry'. Everyone applying for this job wants that. It takes room away from your resume for displaying actual skills you can bring. I don't care about how many buzzwords you can fit in a resume, I care about what potential skills you are bringing that I may need and what experiences you had that demonstrate these skills.

Okay, that's it for now. Please keep in mind, none of these things are huge issues that will get your resume completely thrown away. If you have a good resume and enough exams, doing this stuff isn't going to disqualify you. There is plenty of other advice on here about obvious things you should/shouldn't do which will disqualify you.

This is just a (hopefully) helpful guide about some of the things you can do to help bolster an unexceptional resume when applying directly to actuarial, which I find very few people actually do.
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:29 PM
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Good advice, and something that always seems to come up, so I've made it "sticky".
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:53 PM
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Great thread! I'll add some more advice:

1) No grammatical errors. Read it over 1000 times. Get 1000 friends to read it over.
2) No formatting inconsistencies. The majority of the resumes I see have this issue (dates are listed differently throughout the resume, bullet points are justified differently). Look it over 1000 times. Get 1000 friends to look it over.
3) No "Summary of Qualifications". All of the "pay attention to detal" and "work well individually and as a team" is fluff and a waste of space
4) 1 page. If you're an entry level candidate, there is no reason why you should have a two page resume. Think about what's important to a hiring manager, and either get rid of the rest, or really keep it to a minimum. I have held 4 full-time jobs and had 6 co-ops jobs, and my resume is one page. Yours should be too
5) Activities, Interests, and older stuff: Either eliminate it or keep it to the bare minimum. You don't need 4 bullet points for your "treasurer of the actuarial club" heading. No bullet points (or one, if you did something exceptional) works just fine since I have a good idea of what a treasurer of an actuarial club does. But something like that is good to have on your resume because it shouws that you're taking on a leadership role.

I'll be reviewing resumes soon, so I'll rant more in a couple of weeks.
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Old 10-01-2013, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Blind Squirrel View Post
3) If you live far away, explain why, or at least obviously state that, you are willing/interested in relocating to the location you are applying for. A small or medium sized company may not have the time or resources to interview people who would rather stay in their location and are just applying for the job there because they are applying 'everywhere'.
Can you give an example of someone who did this well? I've tried mentioning that some activities I do are available in ____ city , but honestly I could do those activities anywhere. Saying willing to relocate to _____ doesn't feel convincing enough.
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Old 10-01-2013, 03:05 PM
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If you have family in the area
If you have visited the area in the past and always wanted to live there...point out something special you like about it
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Old 10-01-2013, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Gamblor View Post
4) 1 page. If you're an entry level candidate, there is no reason why you should have a two page resume. Think about what's important to a hiring manager, and either get rid of the rest, or really keep it to a minimum. I have held 4 full-time jobs and had 6 co-ops jobs, and my resume is one page. Yours should be too
I think this may mostly apply to those in the US. I seem to recall two page or so CVs being the norm during my Canadian days, even for entry level. Any Canadian hiring managers have an opinion on this?
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Old 10-01-2013, 04:34 PM
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I think this may mostly apply to those in the US. I seem to recall two page or so CVs being the norm during my Canadian days, even for entry level. Any Canadian hiring managers have an opinion on this?
I'm a Canadian hiring manager.

1 page please. I've seen multipiple co-op students get five or six 4-month work terms condensed to one page. The problem is that these students think that every thing they do on every work term is important and should on their resume. "Run daily macro" should not be on a resume. After 2 years, I bet most entry level full-time are able to put 4-5 solid bullet points on their resume. A 4-month co-op term usually isn't deserving of 4-5 bullet points. Maybe 3.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L. Mo View Post
If you have family in the area
If you have visited the area in the past and always wanted to live there...point out something special you like about it
But that's about as far as I'd go.

"willing to relocate", though, is meaningless. Obviously if you sent the resume to somewhere non-local, you'd be willing to relocate. Saying "willing to relocate" doesn't mean they want to work there any more than those that don't.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:46 PM
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No "Summary of Qualifications".
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:25 PM
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http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ad.php?t=46382

First five posts should do it. The information is 8 years old, so it's possible the profession has changed a lot since then.
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