This article was republished with permission from Property Casualty 360.
By: Ashley Heline and Leah Ohodnicki
Being new to any industry can be challenging. It takes time to understand the competitive landscape, technical jargon, specialized forms and even legacy relationships.
Joining an industry with a talent gap can be especially challenging. The insurance industry has some of the most knowledgeable and seasoned professionals around. These 10 tips can help early-career professionals navigate the insurance talent gap and quickly earn the respect of veterans.
1. First impressions are everything.
Studies have found it takes just seconds – or even a fraction of a second – to make a first impression. For in-person or phone communications, be on time, stay attentive and have a good attitude. For digital communications, take the time to reread an email before hitting send to ensure there are no typos. Care about little details like formatting – even in a casual email.
2. Always think ahead.
Prepare for every meeting you have – including lunch meetings. Review background information on each agenda item and have a list of questions ready. Think through various ways a senior leader may respond to a question and have additional points of discussion ready.
3. Adapt your communication methods.
Ask those you work with how they prefer to communicate and then adapt your preferred method accordingly. Some may prefer short, direct emails while others may like more details or a direct phone call.
4. Trust your current skill set.
The company you are working for hired you for a reason. You can bring something to the table that not everyone else can and therefore add value. The insurance industry is ripe for disruption and senior leaders are eager for fresh ideas, so don’t be afraid to share your perspective.
5. Say yes.
Ask for opportunities and take them when they come. Don’t overthink it or make excuses – get out there and take on new challenges. Remember, you don’t need to sit around waiting for the opportunities to come to you – be proactive and ask. When you do this, make sure it’s well thought-out, worthwhile and an offer your manager can’t refuse.
6. Ask questions.
Senior leaders do not expect you to know everything. That’s why you have a team. Ask clarifying questions when needed. The most important thing is that you get the information needed to deliver what is expected. This leads to the next point …
7. Do what you say you are going to do.
Follow through on the commitments you make. If you have overcommitted yourself, it’s okay to have a conversation to reestablish a deadline. These conversations, as difficult as they may be, should not be put off.
8. Sharpen the pencils and carry the mail.
Do everything you can to make yourself helpful to senior leaders – even if it is a simple task that doesn’t “fall within your job description.” Put in extra effort now for greater payoffs later in your career. Your colleagues will notice and turn to you more frequently as a reliable resource.
9. Focus on your actions, not your title.
Using your time to focus on achieving your goals and expanding your skill set will take you further in your career than worrying about your title. Make sure your priorities stay in the right place.
10. Remember, you are still early in your career.
You don’t know everything yet, and there is opportunity to learn from others every day. Consider finding a mentor or joining a learning and development program to continue growing your skill set. Be proud of the work you have accomplished so far. You are the next generation of talent, and leadership values that.
Get more professional development tips and insurance insights by joining our Ascend With Argo program.
Ashley Heline is marketing program manager, and Leah Ohodnicki is senior vice president, group producer management, for Argo Group.