Knowing what qualifications you need to get your dream career as an actuary 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 actuarial 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 actuarial employers seek in their graduate recruits?
When applying for graduate actuarial 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 actuarial profession.
What qualifications do actuarial employers look for?
The actuarial profession demands a high level of academic attainment from specific degree subjects. So before you apply, make sure you meet the minimum qualifications.
Generally, you will be required to have a degree to train to become an actuary. Many employers ask for a minimum of a 2:1 in a numerate subject, though some employers ask for a 2:2. Degree subjects best suited to those looking to become actuaries include maths, statistics, economics, actuarial science, physics or chemistry.
A minimum of BBB at A-Level is the norm, though some companies ask for ABB or AAB.
That said, there has been an increase in School Leaver Schemes in recent years, meaning that you don’t always have to have a degree to become an actuary. However, many employers will request an A in Maths at A-Level so you will still need a high-level of academic achievement.
You can read more about the qualifications you need to become an actuary here.
What hard skills do actuarial 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;
- Specialised maths knowledge
- A working knowledge of calculus, statistics and probability are required for a career as an actuary
- Good business sense
- This includes knowledge of accounting and economics
- Strong computer skills – including;
- Formulating spreadsheets
- Statistical analysis programs
- Database manipulation
Of course, graduate employers don’t expect you to be able to master all 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 actuarial employers look for?
There are specific soft skills that will be more helpful than others when applying for actuarial graduate roles.
- Good communication skills and team work
- Actuaries work in teams, so these two skills are essential!
- Time management
- You may find yourself working to tight deadlines, so time management is a must
- Project management
- Actuaries will find themselves juggling multiple projects, so good project management will come in handy
- Commercial awareness
- You should demonstrate that you have a working knowledge of the actuarial industry, and that you understand the problems facing the industry today. Reading websites such as The Actuary will mean you keep up to date on what’s going on.
Hopefully this has given you some idea of what skills graduate recruiters look for, and the more specific skills actuarial 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!