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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Mesmoiselle on January 21, 2016, 09:31:48 AM

Title: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: Mesmoiselle on January 21, 2016, 09:31:48 AM
My husband was on the track to become a mathematics professor, couldn't keep his grades up in the P.h.D. program of mathematics he had been in, working as a Teaching Assistant, for two years, withdrew. We've been focusing him on an Actuarial track ever since. He had 2 exams passed and a master's in mathematics for 18 months, got his third exam 7 months ago, and 4 exams passed as of Nov 2015. It would be one thing if he was getting interviews but no hires but he's gotten only  2 interviews in 18 months. We're at a weird place. We thought more exams were better, but Employers are not responding, obviously.

We're pulling at straws and playing guessing games. Meanwhile, he's working manual labor at a Union. And he's not just applying for Actuary positions, there have been other job titles he's applied for. Like Analyst and those people that prepare mortgage contracts. We are only applying locally for lower paying positions, but we opened our Actuary search to the entire United States over a year ago now. One of my guesses is his current job, always meant to me a temp fix, now looks horrible on his resume. As a result of this guess, now he is making moves towards a non union but same employer supervisor position, because at least that is an office job with "responsibility" even those he's never wanted to be anyone's manager. We've had his resume looked at. We practiced interview skills for a few hours a day before his last interview.

This whole thing is massively confusing to me because my whole life Math = jobs. Good at math = better jobs.  But never chronic underemployment. Our other guess is that actuary has become a job of nepotism and networking and if you don't know the right people, you don't get a glance. It's a big Question Mark and we don't know where else to go as we've thrown a lot of time and resources into this direction and he would actually like to be an Actuary and the salary scale is where we want him to be at.

Now, my second partner (polyfidelitous V if it matters) has a completely different background that is not complicated to explain. He has some mental health issues but is very intelligent (can chat with Master's in Math husband all day.) All he wants to do is switch from his near 11 year union job and become an Electrician. Pure college seems to trigger his OCD/ performance anxiety, so we wanted him to go the route of the On the job vocational training with the local electrician's Union. But he applied in October and they won't even give him a timeline. I am like, What? Although, maybe we're jumping the gun on being concerned? It's not even been 3 months and Holiday season was involved...

Meanwhile, I took a chance, my career seems to be blossoming and my income nearly doubled. I am NOT good at math, although I enjoy physics and chemistry, but I do work in the medical field (not a nurse), and I do have 7 years of experience employers very much like you to have.

What I've taken strongly from MMM is keep optimizing and poking and improving. But maybe I'm encouraging my partners into the wrong directions or don't fully understand how to help my partners break into their industry choices.

What are we doing wrong?
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: deborah on January 21, 2016, 02:22:11 PM
Get some professional resume writer to look at the actuary's resume. There may be something in it that is putting people off.
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: marty998 on January 21, 2016, 02:55:48 PM
You know this but most people don't, that Actuarial is quite a small field... Insurance & pensions... hard to break into.

Talk to the professional organisation that sets the exams (Institute of Actuaries?). They will have contacts and networks with employers that you can leverage off.
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: mozar on January 21, 2016, 07:07:12 PM
I would take off the bit about the job on the resume and just talk about his current job in any interviews. My understanding is that there are only a few locations for actuaries in the country like Illinois and Connecticut. And like most places, probably prefer local candidates.

My guess is that actuarial science is one of those jobs that is becoming automated. He might have to combine actuarial science with something else (like statistics). Here is a good article about it:
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: SeanMC on January 21, 2016, 07:44:38 PM
Does he have any work experience in any of these fields (actuary, analyst, etc.)? Is there a professional network that he is tapped into?

It sounds like he tried an academic route & is working a union job - when you send that resume out cold, I can see why it doesn't get bites, even with the exams.

He probably needs to do more to build a professional network to get work as either an actuary or analyst.
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: Hvillian on January 21, 2016, 08:10:05 PM
Has he reached out to any actuarial recruiters (  They can usually give targeted resume feedback and other tips for the job hunt.
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: jorjor on January 21, 2016, 08:37:40 PM
Hi! I'm an actuary.

First off, more exams are better in my opinion. All else equal, someone with 4 exams will beat someone with 3 exams. All else is rarely equal. Every once in a while, you'll find someone who will suggest that you should only pass 1-2 exams because you will price yourself out of the market. I think those people are wrong. I think once you get the preliminary exams out of the way, passing more is cost prohibitive. The FAP modules and FSA exams are very expensive.

All that being said, it is hard to break into the field. This is a byproduct of having a decade of every "Best jobs in America" list putting actuary in the top 3, and then many colleges using that to churn out lots of actuarial science diplomas who then want to find actuarial jobs. In my experience, it isn't really a nepotism thing. I don't know many jobs that are filled because of knowing the right person. It is especially hard for career changers, since you are competing against the traditional college graduate who probably had a summer internship or two (usually obtained through campus recruiting...which I guess you could argue is "knowing the right person").

If he has not done so, go to the Actuarial Outpost. Post his (anonymous and de-identified) resume. Get feedback to improve the resume. You're getting feedback from actual hiring managers there. This will be significantly better than feedback from a professional resume writer, who may not be at all familiar with what a good actuarial resume should be like.

Recruiters can help, but you'll need to talk to a couple to get one that will do good work for entry-level. Most are looking to do experienced  placements.  Again, there are lots of qualified entry-level applicants who want jobs. Why would a company pay a recruiter when they can not pay a recruiter and still find a good one?

Online applications are known to be a black hole for applications. You want your resume in front of actuaries, not in front of HR. Many suggest that you go here: Search the directory for companies. Email the people you find with a very short email acting as your cover letter, and your resume attached (after you have made sure your resume is good, of course). Your hit rate will not be great, but you'll likely at least get responses. I got my first job through a cold email doing exactly this. I actually got several interviews this way. My response rate for online HR applications was 0% (and it wasn't because I wasn't a good candidate). Now that I am a credentialed actuary and show up on that directory, I get resumes through cold emails. I do not think it's weird or strange or off-putting. I forward them to our hiring team to handle if we are hiring (we are not right now).
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: jorjor on January 21, 2016, 08:59:56 PM
My understanding is that there are only a few locations for actuaries in the country like Illinois and Connecticut.

Not really. Some places have higher concentrations of actuaries. Chicago and Hartford are certainly two of those places. The major consulting firms have offices in nearly every major city. Health insurance companies aren't really all that centralized. Many state-specific or regional companies, and even the large companies spread staff among multiple locations that cover a few states at a time. Those are just a few examples.

Someone on the site I mentioned before went through the directory I mentioned before and made a map of hiring companies. There are lots of us. Everywhere. (Thread here, so I can credit the person who did the work:
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: dogboyslim on January 21, 2016, 09:25:42 PM
I hire actuaries.  Feel free to pm his resume and I'll give feedback.

EL is very competitive.  Recruiters typically charge 25% of first year salary, and every EL posting has hundreds of resumes.  Don't use a recruiter unless you are desperate.

Things that make it past the resume screen are exams, GPA, prior experience or internships, and demonstration of some kind of coding.  Bonus points for R, VBA, SAS and SQL.  None of those count without words describing the project where those languages were used.

Excel is expected, including the use of vlookup, sumproduct, match, index, if, countif, sumif and probably a few more. He needs to know these if asked, but they don't go on the resume.

There are two US societies: the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society.  Property casualty jobs will reference CAS exams, health, life, pensions will reference SOA.  Know which one is which when talking with folks.

KY farm bureau is in Louisville.  I suggest you find out who the chief actuary is and invite him/her to lunch and ask about the career for the P&C perspective .  Mercer is also in town and has a bunch of actuaries in consulting. Any of them can help you get started.

Lastly, keep your poly relationship to yourselves.  Your mustacian ways, however, will be viewed as normal to most actuaries.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Confusing-to-me career change delays for two. Actuary/Electrician
Post by: Jschange on January 21, 2016, 09:51:36 PM
I'm not an actuary, but for career changes, leaving off the stop gap job can be great. In its place, show that education was happening, exams were happening, volunteering or self employment.

The actuaries can weigh in, but I'd be tempted to add a job like a commission based financial advisor or insurance sales job.

And definitely make sure the exams and reeducation are above the manual labor if you keep it on.

I'm so excited that one career change has worked out, best of luck to both your partners