This is an updated version of an article we published in 2009
In the absence of a significant catastrophe like a hurricane, flood, or tornado outbreak, finding a job as an insurance adjuster can prove challenging. Even when adjuster demand is high, trying to break into the independent adjusting field can be overwhelming. Carriers and IA Firms rarely come knocking down your door so potential candidates need to use every opportunity to gain an advantage over their peers. Knowing how to write an industry-focused insurance adjuster resume will give new and experienced adjusters a way to stand out in a sea of applicants.
Crafting a powerful and effective claims resume requires first understanding the particular skills and work experience that stand out to potential employers. Below are 5 key areas to highlight when crafting your claims resume. This list is by no means complete, but these 5 keys speak directly to the particular needs of adjusting firms and insurance carriers.
Key #1: People Skills
Insurance claims adjusters need to possess excellent people skills, plain and simple. They interact with claimants under stressful circumstances so hiring companies will certainly notice a resume that paints a picture of superior interpersonal communication. You don’t have to be Dale Carnegie, but you should be able to demonstrate an ability to deal with a wide variety of people in various stages of distress, anxiety, and agitation. Your resume should emphasize the polite, professional, and cordial manner with which you have effectively dealt with people under the aforementioned conditions. Customer service experience, volunteering, community outreach, social work, disaster relief and/or cleanup, and working with law enforcement are good examples of things you should highlight if they apply to you.
Key #2: Construction/Engineering Experience
If you are applying for a position as a residential property adjuster, you will definitely want to highlight any experience in building, construction, or restoration. Do you have a working knowledge of how a house is put together? Do you know the difference between soffit and fascia? Have you worked on a construction crew? Operated as a general contractor? Been part of a post-flood cleanup crew? Helped your uncle out with building his deck? Adjusting firms, in particular, don’t want to devote significant time to train their new adjusters in basic construction terminology. Highlighting experience in this field will immediately catch their eye and inform them that you are ahead of the pack in one of the industry’s most vital subjects.
Key #3: Computer Skills
The days of hand-written estimates are essentially over for the professional insurance adjuster. Today, estimates are written and submitted electronically so you need to know your way around a computer and explain your proficiency on your resume. Many companies will not even consider a new hire unless he or she is comfortable using Xactimate or Symbility, although that can be dependent on demand for adjusters at any given time. If you aren’t familiar with these programs, consider taking a course. (We offer a great Xactimate Webinar!) If you are unable to take a course, at the very least you should express clearly in your resume an ability to use Windows-based software. For those who are completely computer illiterate, consider taking a basic computing course before you seriously pursue a career in claims. Online classes, courses at local junior colleges, and community education classes are readily available in most areas, and the investment will be worth your time when applying for jobs.
Key #4: Insurance Policy Knowledge
Knowing how to read and apply an insurance policy is very important for any adjuster and hiring companies know it. If you have any experience in the insurance industry or have basic knowledge of insurance terms and concepts, highlight that in your resume. Similarly to the construction experience, employers would prefer not to spend time teaching new hires the most basic industry terminology and processes. Even if it is as simple as having read your own homeowner’s or auto policy (which is more than most people do), you will want to let your prospective employer’s know about your comfort level with insurance policy jargon and interpretation.
Key #5: Time Management and Personal Accountability
Working as a claims adjuster, especially if you want to be an independent adjuster, requires outstanding time management as well as personal initiative and accountability. When drafting your resume, think about various experiences in your professional history where multitasking and personal accountability were required and then met. You want to project the most professional, capable, can-do image possible so highlight projects you oversaw, budgeting or accounting goals that were achieved, or complicated scheduling issues you overcame. Detailing experience like this illustrates that you can, both literally and figuratively, take care of business. Employers don’t want to hand-hold and babysit new employees, so showing them how capable you are will leave a positive and lasting impression.
Some Final Thoughts on Your Adjuster Resume…
This hopefully goes without saying, but BE HONEST. While we all strive to put our best face forward when applying for a job, outright fabrications rarely work long term. This is especially important in the claims adjusting industry because of the high value placed on integrity. So discuss your skills and experience in positive, action-oriented, strong terms, but don’t make stuff up.
If you read the list above and aren’t feeling confident in your skills, don’t worry. The great part is that many of the things listed are easily improved upon with some effort and time. Take an online computer or accounting class, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, answer phones for an insurance office or take photos for an adjuster for a few months.
Lastly, as resumes are submitted more and more in electronic form, there is a temptation to lower your standards for the appearance and grammatical integrity of your resume. After all, we don’t observe Strunk and White’s Elements of Style when emailing and text messaging – do we really need to observe those old-fashioned standards when posting an electronic resume?
The same rules apply for completing an online resume form or submitting your information to be on a company roster. Let other job seekers submit low quality, error-riddled, informal material to career websites. That will allow your professional, detailed, formal resume to immediately stand out from your peers and inspire confidence from your prospective employers. It will be a competitive advantage as you look to launch your insurance adjusting career.