Written by Susan Lamphiear
Experts. Who among us hasn’t heard a discussion or two lately about experts? Should we take advice about the Pandemic from anonymous or questionable Facebook comments or seek out and listen to reputable scientists and medical professionals?
If you’re in job transition, Career Connectors has a reputation for providing professional and timely advice to individuals during challenging times of career change. Experts help guide you through not only the job search, but job search during Covid-19 and all the extra changes and challenges that have resulted. You have free access to professionals in a number of industries to help guide the way.
In typical fashion, Career Connectors pulled together professionals from the Insurance and Finance Industries to present pertinent, timely panel discussions about the job search, along with information about their companies and how they’re adapting during the Pandemic.
Hosted by Jessica Pierce, CEO/Founder of Career Connectors.
- State Farm: Sandy Carlock, Talent Brand Specialist-HR Workforce Solution
- RLI Insurance: Ryan Dean, Lead HR Business Partner
- Liberty Mutual: John Walters, Sales Director
Q1 Please give us a brief overview of your company and your role.
- Sandy: State Farm Insurance helps customers protect the things that matter the most, including cars and homes. With 58,000 employees, State Farm ranks 36 on the Fortune 500 list. In April, 2022, State Farm will celebrate their 100th Year anniversary. The company is literally a family company, often with several members of the same family working for State Farm. The company believes in philanthropy and offers each employee one day a year to volunteer, with the option of earning a second volunteer day. The company offers lots of career development opportunities.
- Ryan: RLI Insurance, a public company on the New York Stock Exchange, was founded 50 years ago. The company offers products to underserved specialty industries. Headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, they employ 900 workers in 50 states, including Arizona.
- John: Liberty Mutual, always evolving, can be described as a tech company who happens to do insurance. On the leading edge of the industry, Liberty uses drones along with other cutting edge technology. My role is retail brokerage in Phoenix and Tucson. Liberty operates throughout the United States and worldwide.
Q2 What’s your advice to prospective employees? What is your company looking for?
- Sandy: A lot of people come in without knowing about the company. Networking is so important so make use of resources like Career Connectors or LinkedIn. No time to be humble–put key words in your resume.
- Ryan: Research and know the company you’re communicating with. This goes a long way.
- John: Show me who are. Let me see who you are in the interview.
Q3 What are myths and assumptions about the industry that changed when you started working at your company?
- Sandy: State Farm offers lots of opportunities in a variety of areas.
- Ryan: I’ve become aware of all the good the insurance industry does in a community. In the recent Hurricane Laura, for example, people don’t always realize what happens right after a catastrophe like that–the insurance companies are there right away to help.
- John: People often think insurance is 80-90% sales. It’s more like 10% sales. All job families are available unlike other industries–and the industry is constantly growing.
Q4 Could you explain how potential employees get their foot in the door and what career paths are available?
- Sandy: Customer service and claims jobs are entry level and offer a foot in the door. You learn a lot about the company by working in these areas. Getting a mentor helps in your career path, too. You don’t need an insurance degree but education and growth and development are available once you start work at State Farm. I changed careers within the company.
- Ryan: Most job families are available including Software Developer. Employees are always learning. You can stay within one division towards career growth or move into a different division. Networking is important within the company. I’ve been in five different divisions in my career. Building relationships is very important.
- John: Communicate with your boss. Often the company will pay for a degree or for advanced learning to help an employee grow. Let the company know where you want to go in your career and they’ll guide you.
Q5 How has the Covid-19, the Pandemic, changed things?
- Sandy: Moving the company and technology to 7600 homes has been the biggest pivot or challenge. We used technology to do things we didn’t know we could do. We customized to help customers. And we’ve also passed savings on to customers–since there’s less driving there are fewer accidents.
- Ryan: I agree with everything Sandy said. Also, interviews are unique. We were and still are still hiring. One challenge is convincing hiring managers to hire a new employee without ever meeting them in person. Onboarding becomes a second challenge; we must be very intentional–for example, who is part of the onboarding and who is the buddy whose task becomes helping the new employee?
- John: Liberty focuses on the employee including enhanced compensation. Recently 95-98% of employees approved of the way the company has handled the transition during Covid-19. Product innovation has stepped up since people aren’t driving as much. Liberty is giving back premiums. Expense management becomes important as people go back out. We’re starting to see the “boomerang” employee–referring to people who left and are coming back–which is awesome for the insurance industry.
Q6 What do you think is the future of the insurance industry?
- Sandy: There’s an even bigger need for technology. Technology sells insurance. I’ve seen talk lately of flying vehicles! Cyber threats and data risk and AI Artificial Intelligence are hot. The industry will help customers navigate the technology.
- Ryan: Success will look different in the next 50 years. We can’t count on what got us here the past 50 years. Product innovation will be necessary–for example, pay by mile, as people reduce their driving. Right now we have more data than we know what to do with. It’s important to know how to utilize all this data. Lots of exciting quick-paced change despite all the negativity that goes with the Pandemic.
- John: Our top four goals are global including de-escalation which will be moving out of the Pandemic and into the new normal and its best practices. The company is realizing more positives about expanding remote work, for example. It allows for more growth and opportunity.
Q7 How is the world of work changing? What’s your position on hiring seasoned employees over 50? What if these individuals want an entry level job–is that an acceptable culture?
- Sandy: Yes! We want your experience as long as you move into a suitable role. Bring your experience. If you’re willing to start at entry level and find a fit, that’s great. We love experienced people. You already know how to be a professional.
- Ryan: Yes to experience. We don’t know what we do not know. What are other companies and industries doing? We can learn from your experience.
- John: Yes we like experience. Who are you today? Are you coachable? Do you have a vision of where you’d like to go?
Q8 What are the hot jobs in your company?
- Sandy: We have openings for lots of tech reps–software developers like JAVA and more. Go to the website for a complete list. Bilingual Spanish is a big need currently. You must pass a difficult test in speaking, writing, and reading. We also need entry level claims and customer service.
- Ryan: IT–I support this area in Illinois. We landed in Phoenix where we have access to more candidates with different experiences and higher quality. In Tempe we have a need for both short and long term positions.
- John: We’re always looking for rock stars at math and also actuarial and spreadsheets strengths. These skills remain in high demand.
- Freedom Financial Network: Erin Polazzi, Recruiter
- Vanguard: Olivia Tarabini, Senior Recruiter
- Silicon Valley Bank: Jerrelle Lockhart, Recuiter
Q1 Please tell us about your company, your role, and what you like best.
- Jerrelle: Silicon Valley Bank is the number one leader in technology banking. LinkedIn is one of their first clients. I love the culture, cliche though it sounds; it’s like family. Clients include healthcare and premium wine. Lots of opportunity. We’re an especially awesome company if you have a passion for technology. The company is worldwide and innovative.
- Erin: We’re a family of a few companies. Freedom Financial Network was founded in 2002 by two students who were friends. The company values balance of the heart and dollar. Including Phoenix and San Mateo, California, we have 2200 employees. We do personal loans and consolidation and are dipping our toes in the mortgage area. The best part to me is helping customers. The company offers paid time off to volunteer. The company lives and breathes our core values–they’re not just on a coffee cup.
- Olivia: One of the world’s largest investment management companies, but Vanguard has a family feel. Client owned, the company has great opportunities including IT or tech or analytics. Service oriented, the three pillars are client, crew, and community. Our generous benefits are listed on the website.
Q2 What skills are you looking for?
- Jerrelle: We’re looking for expertise in IT or client facing or analyst. One of the main things we’re looking for is innovation. Also, the entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for technology, science or math. A passion for numbers, a passion to learn. Technology skills are in high demand. The company will teach you the finance part.
- Erin: I echo what Jerrelle said. We’re a smaller company but have lots of roles. Entry level, right out of school or no degree and the company will train you. We’re looking for true leaders who put in a little extra something. People who are critical thinkers who think outside the box and love helping people.
- Olivia: We’re looking for individuals with a teamwork mindset who are interested in learning and have a desire to be the point person to help others. Many career development opportunities are available. We look for employees who will be proactive to find out what avenues interest you towards your career path. I had a background in nonprofit but started out entry level in client relationships and progressed from there.
Q3 What do you like and why do you stay?
- Jerrelle: I love a challenge and the focus on diversity–many populations in this field are underrepresented. There’s an opportunity to build relationships. I consider myself a professional friend maker. As a recruiter, I look for someone whose interest can be channeled into one of our divisions. An example might be someone who majored in biology. We have a life sciences group. A client might be interested in working or talking with someone with a similar interest in science. With technology, you can bring your expertise. This industry is not just about numbers but about building relationships.
- Erin: One thing is constant–CHANGE. I personally love change. That came in handy because with Covid-19 created the need to go with the flow and be flexible as things change. Most roles require this flexibility. My story began as a supervisor but I helped build QA and I moved into a different area of the business. A BA in psychology, once I tried HR management I found my passion. The company provides lots of support from their leaders. The company has passion for career development. No experience in finance is needed.
- Olivia: Often call centers get a bad rap–but I’m steering people away from that mindset. I enjoy client facing and enjoy feeling the impact the job has on clients. I also love the opportunity to pursue and learn in different areas. Relationship is a big part of the industry and something I really didn’t know before I joined.
Q4 How do potential employees get their foot in the door and do you have a career path for them?
- Jerrelle: Ways to get a foot in the door include client services and operations and relationship management. Find someone from the company because they love to talk. Let them know you’re interested. Recent grads have access to the associate development program.
- Erin: Customer service is a good way to get a foot in the door. Also, don’t forget about networking and LinkedIn. I started as a supervisor helping build QA and moved into a different area of the business.
- Olivia: Networking is huge. The client relations associate is a good starting place. The company also hires insurance sales. Customer service is another area to start. A license is not required but once with the company you can expand your horizons.
Q5 What are some of the hot jobs in your company?
- Jerrelle: We need a Senior Cloud Security Engineer in Tempe. Also Vice President to support our credit card team, Senior Manager of Operations, and People Management. And please check out our website.
- Erin: Freedom has need for inside sales, debt relief, lending, and customer service, especially bilingual. Also the areas of operation risk, auditor and customer service in lending and loan services. For more hot jobs visit our website.
- Olivia: Customer service to high level clients and client relationship associates are good entry level jobs. Also check out our website for other opportunities.
US Health Advisors
Joe Bourcier, Joe the Health Insurance Pro
US Health Advisors partners with Career Connectors.
US Health Advisors offers flexible health insurance coverage for individuals including Medicare supplements and can be competitive for anyone on COBRA insurance. For small businesses under two people, our company is often able to offer better coverage including creative ways to customize coverage for individual employees instead of one blanket policy.
By the time Joe meets with clients, he has done research first, which allows them to offer from one to three top plans that might work best for the customer. Many businesses need coverage and he’s able to cover 30 states in the US. The company works with several professional businesses including realtors, plumbers, doctors, dentists, and lawyers as well as individuals.
US Health Advisors works with America’s self-employed, small business owners, or individuals to help them access affordable benefits and services.
Joe can be reached via Facebook or LinkedIn so feel free to reach out to him with questions. He’s a free resource to all attendees or anyone who needs information.
CEO/Founder of Career Connectors Jessica Pierce thanked the volunteers and hiring companies, invited attendees to sign up for regular notifications, to take the DISC assessment free, and to use the resources outlined on the website.
Career Connectors, now being offered online, means they can serve even more people, so Jessica urges attendees to share this information with other people who may benefit from the free events and resources. The schedule may change later in September but for now visit the website for days and times for the online events.
DID YOU KNOW?
So far this year, Career Connectors has served more than 3,000 people in career transition. We are passionate about helping more, and need your help.
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