There’s a lot of disruption in the insurance industry lately, and lots of people having to find new positions. For the most part, it’s not that companies are downsizing, if anything most are reporting they will be hiring people this year. It’s more that they are closing down some offices and opening others, or that they are moving departments around different business units and that’s causing some jobs to be lost while other jobs are created, often in different geographic area. There’s also a lot of people at companies that have been acquired, who are looking at new opportunities. I’ve had the same conversation at least a 15 times in the last few weeks, with different people, so I figured I’d make it into an article. So if you’ve recently been downsized (or informed that you will be downsized in 30, 60 or 365 days), this one is for you.
1. It’s not you, it’s the industry:
First thing to realize is that it’s not your fault. Structural changes happen and sometimes it means that your role is eliminated or move to an office you’re not willing to relocate to. It’s ok to be shocked at first, it’s normal. Let yourself feel what you need to feel and work through the process. Yes, it’s painful. Yes it sucks. You bled for the company and thought you’d get to retire there and have every right to be sad and angry, for a while. Unfortunately the age of lifetime employment is over. This is the new social contract. The company owes you fair pay and opportunities to grow your skills and to remain relevant and employable so that if they don’t need you tomorrow, you can land on your feet.
2. Apply for unemployment:
There’s no shame on it. You’ve been paying your taxes for year and that’s the reason the safety net exist. File for your unemployment right away and find out how much you’re getting. In most states it’s an online application, there’s no embarrassing unemployment lines to stand in.
2. Take a couple of days to just absorb it:
Let yourself cry it out. Call your parents if you’re close to them. Call your friends. Don’t hide it from your spouse and kids. Curl up on the couch with the dog and a cup of coffee and let yourself just relax. Wake up late for a couple of days, after all you don’t need to be at the office.
3. There is basically no unemployment in the insurance industry, you’ll be fine:
For the last few years it’s been running around 2% which is significantly less than what economists call “full employment”. So basically, if you want a job, chances are there’s one out there for you. Don’t worry too much! I haven’t found any publicly published numbers about unemployment rate among CPCUs, but I would bet it’s less than 1%, so if you’ve been following our advice chances are you’ll be just fine!
4. But job searches take time, and our industry hires slowly:
I was given to say “I’m a young CPCU, I can get a job in a week.” Then I got downsized and it took me 5 painful months to find my next position. The reality is that the old rule of thumb that it takes one month job search for each $10,000 in salary you’re trying to replace is completely true! Since our industry is awesome, and there’s almost no unemployment it can be faster than that, but it won’t be fast enough not to be traumatic and painful. Prepare yourself.
5. Make an emergency budget:
Once you’ve taken a couple of days to recover, the first thing you should do is sit down and figure out your budget. Did you get a severance? How much will you be getting from unemployment? Can you get on your spouse’s health insurance (or your parents’ if you’re under 26)? Will you need to get COBRA? Are you still getting a bonus even though you’re no longer with the company? Are you getting a tax return soon? Cut down all unnecessary expenses to get a good idea of how long you can go on unemployment, this should help you get some peace of mind so you know that you won’t get evicted or starve if it takes 8 months to find the right job. I highly recommend you use some sort of budgeting software. I like CalendarBudget and it’s free.
6. Consider a little gig work:
Since you know that the search will realistically take a few months it might make sense to drive some Uber/Lyft, to rent your guest room on AirBNB or any other gig work. If you’ve been in the industry for a long time maybe Work From Home Vintage Employees is a temporary match for you. If you have an MBA maybe try Hourly Nerd. If you’re bilingual maybe a little translation work. For the most part no gig is going to replace your full time work, but it might bring a little cash flow when you need it most. I’d suggest signing up and getting approved with Uber/Lyft so you have the option if you ever want to try it. I personally drove a month full time before my new job started and not only made some decent money, but I also had a lot of fun doing it.
7. Get the resume in shape:
If had been at the same job for a long time, and weren’t planning on leaving, your resume might be a decade old. You have to get it in shape and looking awesome. Read our favorite article on resumes here. I’m always happy to review insurance resumes and I’m happy to give you some feedback. You can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org . I look at about 5-8 a week, so I have some practice.
8. Take advantage of any outplacement services:
If your company offered you outplacement services as part of your settlement, check them out and schedule a visit. Get some feedback on your resume and maybe take some online classes if they offer them. But keep in mind that the job search is up to you, they’re just there to advice you, they’re not going to find you the next role.
9. Take some time to introspect and decide what you want to do when you grow up:
Even if you’ve been in claims for a decade that doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Just because your experience is in personal lines doesn’t mean you can’t get a commercial lines role. Maybe it’s time to become a full time consultant! Only you can really answer the question, but taking a little time to figure it out will pay big dividends in helping you better focus your efforts. In my case I realized that I wanted something in commercial lines and preferably in underwriting. I was also crystal clear I didn’t want small commercial, I was willing to hold out for a Middle Market or specialized commercial opportunity.
10. Are you mobile?
If you have the ability to move to a different geographic area that can really help open up opportunities. You don’t have to be mobile to find a good job, but if you are mobile start discussing that possibility with your spouse and your family and looking at options in some of the insurance hubs: Chicago; Atlanta; Phoenix; Richmond, VA; Des Moines, IA; Columbus, OH and Hartford, CT. San Francisco, New York and Boston are also big insurance hubs but they’re VERY expensive cities so don’t start your search there unless that’s always been your dream.
11. Activate your network:
Most people get hired because of internal recommendations and many jobs never get posted and just get filled by people internally recommended. Spend a whole day on LinkedIn messaging all your contacts and letting them know you’re looking. Ask if them to keep you in mind if they hear of any opening that might be a good fit. Let them know exactly what type of positions you’re looking for. I have found most people in our industry work in insurance because they like helping people, they’ll be happy to help you, you just have to ask.
12. Reach out to some recruiters:
Third party recruiters play a BIG part in our industry. There are many companies that specialize in nothing but insurance and they know the industry like the back of their hand. Many of them have great relationships with HR at a few companies and know about positions even before they’re officially posted. If you don’t have any recruiters you really like send me and email and I’ll recommend some of my favorites. Read our article about how to deal with recruiters too.
13. Prepare a spreadsheet to track your job applications:
You can use Excel or Google Sheets, or whatever your preferred spreadsheet app is, but you MUST track it. Keep track of the company, location, positions, date you applied, whether you heard anything back and what the next step is.
14. From now on, you are a full-time job applying machine:
I won’t sugarcoat it, this is going to suck. You’re going to start waking up early, showering, dressing in something comfy and shooting out online applications to EVERY interesting position. You need to set a goal and stick to it. You should be sending many online applications. I used to aim for 25 a day. The exact number is up to you, but you need to understand that every big carrier uses an Applicant Tracker System and many of those systems are essentially resume black holes, and in most applications your resume won’t be seen by a human HR recruiter. Don’t be afraid to apply to multiple similar jobs at the same company, chances are you won’t offend them. It’s a game and you have to apply a lot to win! You’ll be beat up at the end of each day after sending out a bunch of applications, that’s normal. If you’re not tired, you haven’t sent enough. And don’t forget to track them all in the spreadsheet. This is thankless work and unfortunately it’s a necessary part of the process. Don’t get offended when you get 100 rejection emails in a week. It’s not you, it’s their black hole system swallowing your resume over and over. Just keep swimming!
15. Understand finding a job is a two part process:
The first part is selling yourself, the second part is buying the offer they gave you. Until you have an official offer, you have nothing. Don’t scare yourself out of a position that could be a match by convincing yourself that you won’t like or won’t get paid enough. Focus on getting the offer. If it’s not a match you can politely decline it then. All interview practice is good for you and your interviewing skills!
Best place to find insurance jobs:
In my experience Indeed is the best place and searching for “CPCU” (even if you don’t have your CPCU) will get you the best non-entry level results, rather than searching “insurance” or “underwriter”. If you search for “CPCU” you’ll find all the awesome insurance jobs, and a few nursing ones you can just ignore.
I’m always happy to chat with insurance pros seeking a new role. Grab some time on my calendar at ChatWithTony.com