The dual theme of this quarter’s newsletter is how to get an actuarial job at the entry level and how those at the senior levels came to be in their current jobs as Chief Actuaries and Chief Risk Officers. And, despite the wizardry of current and cutting-edge technology, the key tool in putting you on the path to getting a job still is the tried and true resume. A really good one. A really good resume without mistakes or typos. Take my first resume, for example. It was the early 1980s and electric typewriters were all the rage. I had just graduated with a journalism degree and had made the decision to forgo the Fourth Estate (newspaper work) in favor of a hard-charging role in the advertising agency business. The early ‘80s was a time of severe recession, high unemployment and high inflation.
So, my resume had to be top notch. If I were going to stand out to the ad agency community in Chicago, then I needed a resume that “popped.” Relying on my innate creative instincts, I discarded the traditional white heavy stock resume paper I originally had in mind and replaced it with…get this…grey rag stock paper WITH raised black lettering. Pure genius. When the couple of hundred resumes were printed, I went down to the local print shop, opened the cardboard box that housed them, and marveled at what I had created. This resume was bound to get me behind a desk in a corner office on Michigan Ave. in a few days’ time. Sure, the resume had all of the required information: name, address, phone number, relevant work experience, internship and non-relevant work experience.
This last item—non-relevant work experience—is what filled most of my resume. For the summers during my college years, I worked as the “Summer Crew Chief ” for the Public Works Department of Winnetka, the northern Chicago suburb where I grew up. The job entailed driving the truck with other college kids on board to cut grass in the various public areas of the suburb. It was, in essence, a “management” position, and I proudly displayed that on my handcrafted, grey, raised-lettered resume.
However, the recession was brutal and the rejection letters came (via the mailman) in bushels. But, one day, the circular-dial phone in my parents’ foyer rang: Cunningham & Walsh invited me in for an interview. Score! After that interview, they called me back again for a second round. Swish! And then, sheer terror. While sitting in the Cunningham & Walsh lobby about to start the second round of interviews and proudly poring over my resume one more time, I noticed something horrific. I froze and began to sweat all at the same time…at the sight of something…really bad, especially for a journalism major. I had left the “l” out of “Public” in the title: “Summer Crew Chief – Public Works Department of Winnetka”! Cunningham & Walsh hired me three days later. I’m sure the dazzle of the grey, rag stock paper with raised black lettering distracted the hiring folks. Pure genius.