standard. I’ve also recommended
to my students that they include
in this section their plans to
take exams, along with their
progress toward the requirements
for validation by educational
experience (aka VEE).
n Objectives are optional. If you are
going to use precious real estate
on your résumé to state your
objective, I recommend making
it more colorful than something
like “To obtain an internship in
actuarial science.” It’s better if you
draw attention to a certain quality
or aspect of your background that
you’d like to bring to center stage.
If you can express clearly a vision
or goal—or describe an important
quality—it could go a long way in
making a positive first impression.
n Show balance. Being a strong
actuarial student and demonstrating
exam success are key determinants
in getting an interview, especially in
an economic environment in which
companies can afford to be choosy.
But I also liked seeing some balance
in the candidates I reviewed—
something that told me that the
candidate was well-rounded.
Technical understanding is a vital
attribute of being an actuary, but it’s
no longer the only one. Actuaries
must communicate, work in
teams, and be leaders within their
respective organizations. Those
skills can’t always be evaluated with
a grade point average (GPA) or
actuarial exam score.
n Learning from experience. As
you complete the section of your
résumé on work experience, ask
yourself, “What did I learn from
this experience that will make
me a better actuarial candidate?”
Did your role involve customer
Communication? Try to draw
something relevant from all your
experiences. If you can’t, don’t
use up valuable résumé space just
to state that you “made widgets”
or “delivered subs.” Those bullet
points wouldn’t inspire me to
request an interview with you.
n Use strong language. I’m not
talking about the kind of
language my dad would use when
I got home late on a weekend
night. Spend some time with
the words in your résumé. Use
active, colorful words that most
accurately convey your experience
and qualities to others. Be careful
and intentional in your wording,
keeping it true to yourself. And
pay attention to verb tense. It
should be consistent throughout.
n References not needed. Some
students are inclined to include
their references right on their
résumé. In my experience, it’s
uncommon for companies to
contact references for internships
or entry-level positions. Free up
some space by excluding your
references entirely or by stating
that references are available on
request. Then make sure you have
references ready to share if asked.
n Honors and awards. A section
with this title is a good chance to
showcase your accomplishments,
whether they are academic,
athletic, or of another nature. Keep
the list to a reasonable length by
focusing on items that highlight
characteristics you believe would
be attractive to employers. Most
companies now have websites
that list their values and mission
statements: Anything that you can
tie to those will be a big hit!
n What makes you unique? A lot
of actuarial résumés look the
same—strong GPA, one to three
exams taken, membership in
the pocket protector club (it
takes one to know one), etc.
Differentiate yourself. What piece
of information can distinguish
you from others and make
your résumé stand out? Think
hard about it. This could be the
difference that gets you the call
that you want.
n One size doesn’t fit all. While we
know that it’s easier to have one
résumé that you can bulk-mail
to all actuarial openings on your
side of the Mississippi, tailoring
your résumé to a certain employer
can have wonderful payoffs.
Applying for a job at a company
that emphasizes technology?
Perhaps you want to elaborate on
your programming background
or a database project you worked
on. Take a careful look at a firm’s
website for information on what is
important to the company. Use that
information to your advantage.
HERSCHEL DAY is a fellow of the Society
of Actuaries, a member of the Academy,
and an assistant professor in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin–Eau
Claire. Previously he was staff vice president of actuarial health care reform at
This article is solely the opinion of its
author. It does not express the official
policy of the American Academy of
Actuaries; nor does it necessarily
reflect the opinions of the Academy’s
individual officers, members, or staff.