Posted June 11, 2014 by

Consider Insurance Sales to Launch a Successful Career

Peter Leighton

Peter Leighton, Vice President of Recruiting for Combined Insurance

It’s no secret that college graduates in today’s economy face a tough job market, possibly the toughest in decades.  U.S. Labor Department statistics note that 36 percent of the 3-million recent grads in their twenties are currently unemployed or underemployed, many working part-time jobs that don’t use their degree. Many feel frustrated to be spending these critical career-building years working as retail and customer service clerks, or as waiters, bartenders or manual laborers, after years of hard work to earn those degrees.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  For those who are ambitious, determined and self-motivated and enjoy working with people, there is an alternative path.

You may want to consider sales.

Careers in sales have long been a draw for individuals who are personable, ambitious and not afraid of a challenge. One area of sales that continues to offer opportunity and growth is the insurance industry.  According to Department of Labor statistics, employment of insurance sales agents and managers is projected to grow 22 percent over the next several years, faster than the average for all occupations.

With an aging population and growth in the purchase of affordable care act healthcare plans, there will continue to be significant demand for insurance products, especially supplemental insurance plans designed to cover accidents, illnesses, disability and death. Because the field of insurance sales typically has no geographic or age barriers, it can be an ideal choice for recent grads who right now find themselves un- or under-employed.  And, with the growing trend towards diversity across the U.S., it can also be a great career choice for young adults with bi-lingual or multi-lingual skills.

As an example, my own company, a long-standing insurance provider, has committed to hiring thousands of new agents and sales managers over the next few years to serve underserved areas and diverse populations across the country. We hope many of these new employees will be hard-working, success-oriented individuals who sincerely want to help people protect themselves, their families, homes and other assets with insurance policies that provide much-needed financial support in the event of an emergency.

Even if those entering the professional workforce for the first time decide over time that insurance sales is not where they want to stay long-term, they’ll find that the skills and experience gained will serve them well in other industries and positions.  Experience working directly with customers and skills such as time management, communications, attention to detail, problem solving and follow-through, are transferrable to any job and qualities employers look for.

What to Look for in a Sales Position

Because many sales jobs are commission-based, those considering a career in insurance sales should actively search for companies that offer some guaranteed income and a comprehensive paid sales training program, as well as employee status and benefits. These can help balance the financial risk.

It’s also important to look for respected businesses offering high-quality products and services that they stand behind ‒ firms driven by a set of expressed values and dedication to a mission.  And, it can pay dividends over the long term if you make a point to look for providers offering excellent entry level sales positions and flexible opportunities for career advancement down the road.  Some things to look for, for example, include:

  • Competitive compensation ‒ and perhaps possibility of performance bonuses. Some companies will supplement new sales agents’ income to help them get started and build a customer base, as well as offering incentive and bonus programs that start right after training.
  • A comprehensive benefit package. A handful of companies offer full-time employee status with benefits, such as medical insurance and access to 401(k) savings plans. Some even offer benefits that start on the first day.
  • Comprehensive paid or free training at the start with ongoing mentorship of newer hires thereafter. A company that is willing to invest in training is more likely to understand the value of its salespeople.
  • Career development and advancement.  A defined career path that includes training and development opportunities can help turn a sales job into a satisfying career. Some companies offer multiple career paths, which can be a good option if career focus should change.
  • Job portability. Some national companies enable you to take the job with you if you move.
  • An atmosphere of shared trust, transparency and belief in the value and growth potential of every employee.

As our country’s newest crop of recent college grads, I challenge you to take the reins now and search out sales job opportunities in which you are empowered to contribute, grow and succeed.  Best of luck to all of you!

By Peter Leighton

About the Author

Peter Leighton is senior vice president of recruiting for Combined Insurance, a leading provider of individual supplemental insurance products and an ACE Group company.  As a committed Equal Opportunity Employer, Combined Insurance practices diversity in hiring and retaining a workforce that reflects the communities it serves. For more information, visit us at www.combinedinsurance.com.

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