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How to write the perfect Actuarial CV

by Rebecca Miles | 1 June 2022

When it comes to writing a CV for an Actuarial-focused role you might need some guidance on best practices, especially if you are a graduate looking for your first job or have been at your current place of employment for a number of years, leaving your CV outdated.

The Actuarial team at Sellick Partnership look at hundreds of CVs every single week and are regularly asked by candidates how they can make improvements or how they should structure and format the document.

With a plethora of knowledge for what the Hiring Manager or HR team will be looking for, we have put together some tips and suggestions on what to include in your CV, how to structure it to maximise your chances of getting an interview and what you can remove. 


Finding the balance

One of the key elements to writing a great Actuarial CV is getting the right balance between being concise but also having enough detail. We all know there is no benefit to having a CV that is too long, however, if your past experience, qualifications and technical skills warrant two or even three pages, then this is absolutely fine.

Fitting everything on to one page and, as a result, eliminating crucial areas of expertise will not help you in your job search. As long as you include a good overview of your experience, your relevant skills and education, as well as prompts for interview questions and quantifiable examples where ever possible, you will be on the right path.

What you should include

  • A professional summary:
    Not all candidates do this, but we think all Actuarial CVs benefit from a professional summary at the top of the page. This should include information that succinctly outlines your skills, qualifications and work experience. 

    Two or three lines should be enough for this and you should always include your level of qualification at the time of applying, including further details if you are studying towards a higher level, alongside your main specialism within Actuarial. This will offer a helping hand to HR who might not work within the Actuarial sector themselves.

    For example, for Life Insurance you might explain that your specialism is within longevity. Similarly, within General Insurance you might be a ‘motor pricing specialist’ rather than a ‘pricing Actuary’.

  • Details about your next steps:
    Providing clarity on what you are looking for next or what is driving your job search is always useful. This might be due to one of many things such as: relocation, redundancy or you are looking for a step up in responsibilities. Similar to the previous point, these details can save time figuring out whether or not you are a suitable candidate.

  • A good, active tone throughout:
    This can be taking into consideration words such as: ‘monitored’, ‘created’, ‘pioneered’ or ‘led’ and makes your experience sound much more impressive.

    This can also give you the edge on other candidates, showing that you had ownership of pieces of work and it displays your willingness to take on additional responsibilities.

  • Quantifiable examples:
    We often see phrases which show that a candidate has ‘improved systems and processes’ which is useful but it would be better to give an example.

    I built XYZ which reduced the time taken for this process from four weeks to two weeks. It also made it easier for the team to generate different reports, different results or different data.

    This is a much stronger statement which gives the interviewer things to ask you about when the time comes. 

    Equally, if you are someone with past experience in a consultancy setting, you should always provide information on the size of the client or the size of the deal you have worked on. This could be a range or an average but often, candidates might be working on multimillion, or even multibillion-pound clients. This is impressive for Hiring Managers to read and provides some interesting talking points.

  • Education: 
    Most employers will want to know details of your entire education, not just your university degree or Actuarial qualification/s.

    Not only does this speed up the process of going back and forward with a recruitment agency like Sellick Partnership, but it also removes the chance of anyone thinking you have something to hide. If there is an element of your education history that you aren’t happy with or something you wish had been better, we would still encourage candidates to include that information. If you have a good degree and Actuarial progress alongside it, your D in GCSE French shouldn’t be an issue.

    Other helpful additions within this section are things like dissertation topics and theses, particularly if you did a maths or statistics-based degree. If you’ve done multiple degrees, put them all on and if you have additional qualifications and accreditations such as Data Science courses, list them.

  • Technical skills:
    You should include as much information on the different systems and coding languages you have used as possible. Try and include these in the experience section as well, detailing exactly where you have used those skills and how frequently.

  • Exams:
    We would always want to see full, comprehensive details of any relevant exams. This includes: which have been passed and whether or not they were first time passes, which, if any, were exemptions from university, which exams you are waiting on results for and also which exams are scheduled in the next sitting. This shows history to date and what you have planned next.

    The first time pass acknowledgement is an extremely strong aspect to have on your CV. Similarly, if you get strong results for particular exams (top five per cent, for example), you should always highlight that as it will be a good talking point in an interview.

What to remove

Now we’ve provided an idea of what you should include in your CV, it’s handy to know what is irrelevant. Here are some of the things that are unnecessary to prospective employers:

  • A picture and/or personal information such as your address, gender, location and age – these would be removed from your CV by the HR department in the first instance anyway, to eliminate discrimination. 

  • Cover letters – more on that below.

  • Scales of proficiency – choose content over style. For example, some candidates will have four out of five circles coloured in for a particular skill. These graphics and images are much easier to lay out in a ‘technical skills’ section. It is better to say I am an advanced user of Prophet or I have done XYZ course, instead of illustrating that you have four out of five circles coloured in for Prophet and nothing to back it up with. It looks nice, but it isn’t quantifiable.

  • ‘References available upon request’ – if you are successful in an interview, a reference will be taken.

No cover letter, no problem…

As a rule, unless you have been explicitly asked to provide a cover letter, we would usually advise candidates to leave this stage of the process out as it could be a completely unnecessary step.

Most cover letters provide the opportunity for you to explain why they are interested in the company and suitable for the role. However, generally speaking, that is what is expected from the interview.


Grammar, grammar, grammar

It might sound obvious but the majority of CVs we receive have basic grammar or spelling mistakes. You should always check that everything is the same font, same size (unless you are using slightly bigger subheadings, for example) and same colour.

You should also make sure that the correct words are capitalised, that the margins are aligned, and it reads correctly. One tip is to read the entire document out loud to yourself to guarantee that it makes sense. Or ask someone else to proof read it for you.


Keep your CV up-to-date

This doesn’t mean just adding in new roles and responsibilities but also checking whether the rest of your CV is still relevant. We see CVs of more experienced candidates who add in their current work but haven’t updated their previous role to the past tense, implying that they are still working at the company.

You should also review your past experience and ensure this still sells your skills in the best way possible. There might have been something you did in a previous role that’s profoundly applicable to the job you are applying for. In these instances, you must make sure they are included.


Non-Actuarial roles – keep them or ditch them?

Some of your previous experience might not showcase the mathematical and/or analytical skillset you want to display but you can keep them on your CV. You might not necessarily need to list all of your responsibilities, particularly if it was a role that you had throughout university…

The exception would be graduates or very junior candidates who may not have that much else to speak about and provides a way of showing you were working during university. These roles should demonstrate your ‘softer skills’ (communication, time management etc.) whilst your technical skills will be developed when you secure a role within Actuarial.


Communication is key

When it comes to Actuarial jobs, many candidates are dealing with complex statistics, have exceptional analytical talent and possess good mathematical knowledge. This means that it can be integral to list communication details, especially if there are certain things that you have completed or were involved in that showcase those attributes.

It’s always worth detailing which stakeholders or clients you have engaged with, including details of their seniority. Were you writing reports for them? Or, were you presenting to them?

This is also important for people management credentials. Whether it’s ad-hoc or formal line management, showing that you possess good interpersonal skills is a great addition, whether this is managing people on projects or resource distribution within your team. For junior candidates, you might have been involved in mentoring and training graduates, which can help you stand out from other applicants.


Structure

You should begin your CV with the professional summary section at the beginning. Then we would advise candidates to list their education alongside their exam history/upcoming exams and professional qualifications.

Technical skills should come after this and levels of competency, this can be bullet pointed.  We would follow this with details of relevant work experience.

Candidates should list their experience in chronological order. If you’ve been in your current role for a good amount of time, you will probably have at least five to ten bullet points outlining your responsibilities. If it’s a candidate that has been at a company for a substantial amount of time and has been promoted within their team or changed roles internally then you can expect more.

Hopefully, this can provide you with enough information needed to create an exemplary CV, showcasing your skills and qualifications as well as building compelling talking points for the interview stage.

Here at Sellick Partnership, we are working on filling a number of positions with a multitude of flexible employers, meaning that we should, in theory, have something for everyone. Visit our Actuarial recruitment page here or take a look at our candidate and client resources for any assistance you may need.