January 8, 2016 | Adrian Eskew
While resumes have certainly declined as the sole deciding factor in hiring decisions over the past few years, that does not make them any less important. A well written and organized resume may help you land claims long after it was submitted. In this article, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens to your resume after you submit it, and some ways you can stand out from the crowd.
Hopefully you were very busy in 2015 with lots of opportunities to expand your career as a claims adjuster and land additional clients. Don’t lose this valuable resume experience by letting it sit until it is forgotten. Start collecting!
Xactimate is great for letting you know the totals for your estimates at a glance. Take some time to go through these and review the number of larger losses worked, collecting data also on the variety of losses that you were assigned. You can also see how many estimates and valuations you wrote by accessing the Projects tab, selecting all the estimates for 2015 by highlighting them and then going to Options > Item Count.
Start a spreadsheet or simply write down some of the vital stats. Here are some of my favorites:
Once you feel like you have a good array of data, set it aside for use later.
Some adjusters keep paper archives in a traditional folder system, while others keep their data in their computers. Whatever your method, go through these files and see if any names or file numbers stand out to you. Likely you worked through some difficult assignments or received special accolades for a project you completed.
For example, in 2015, I completed an estimate and reporting on a high-rise fire. This was a time consuming and logistically complicated project. I definitely want to highlight the facts of this assignment and my role in successfully completing the assigned tasks within my resume. Especially considering the management involved in gathering information from fire departments, engineers, architects, elevator techs, mitigation companies, contractors, alarm companies and construction consultants.
Basically, anything that was memorable and showcase your abilities need to be collected so they can be included on your resume.
Not all years are our best. It is important to highlight strengths, but also be honest about areas where you are seeking growth. We work in a tight knit industry where someone is sure to know an important figure from one of the companies highlighted on your resume (if you share them, more on this later). Therefore, it is important to minimize any bad publicity you might receive from a former client by not embellishing your abilities.
Not all years are our best. It is important to highlight strengths, but also be honest about areas where you are seeking growth.
Take some time to peruse emails and think back through the year. Did you compromise relationships by not keeping a commitment? Have you been late on some reports or maybe failed to complete an assignment? Trust me, at some point in your career as an adjuster these things will happen, both due to the sheer volume of work we receive and the conundrum of not being able to say no. These things are important to note, especially before any interview as you need to be able to explain them to a potential employer.
You may want to consider making some calls to clear up any grievances and let these former clients know that you are submitting resumes and that you want them to provide honest feedback about your work performance. If you bring up a specific incident where you may not have performed at your best, chances are you can explain the circumstances and this explanation will be passed along to any potential future clients that call. Regardless, it’s a good idea to put out fires before they start or at the very least, minimize their destruction.
Chances are you haven’t been updating your resume throughout the year. You probably haven’t updated it at all if you weren’t seeking an opportunity somewhere. The first thing you want to do is go back and look at what you have been using to woo potential clients.
Hopefully your resume highlights only your relevant adjusting experience and is not filled with every job you have had since high school. If it does, get rid of it. Unless you are just starting out, there should be nothing on your resume except the experience which lends itself toward reaching your next goal. Your management experience at the bowling alley in college may help you understand a claim involving damaged lanes, but it probably should be purged from your resume if you have been adjusting claims for more than a year or two.
This brings up another important point; a resume does not necessarily have to read like a timeline. In adjusting you are probably juggling claims from multiple sources, this makes putting companies in chronological order difficult due to the date overlaps. Because of this, I tend to favor categorizing my resume by role. For example, you may have worked property claims, casualty claims and consulted for a firm. Each of these would be a separate “position” or role on my resume, with relevant experience highlighted beneath.
Your management experience at the bowling alley in college may help you understand a claim involving damaged lanes, but it probably should be purged from your resume if you have been adjusting claims for more than a year or two.
Just remember to delete anything that is less important or irrelevant to what you are trying to accomplish with this resume update. Multiple bullet points on your varied hail claim experience should be consolidated to make room for the very specific work you did on a single large hail claim (such as a shopping mall or large commercial building). Specifics far outweigh generalities because they show attention to detail and can relay your expertise in a more granular fashion.
Okay, let’s bring it all together. Resumes do not have to be boring or read like a stat sheet. It’s okay to let your personality shine through as well. You should be highlighting your unique abilities along with your adjusting stats. to show that you are a human (and not a robot).
A strong profile statement is probably the most uncomfortable thing to write on your resume. It will require you to talk about yourself in glowing terms, which does not come naturally to most. Here is a highlight, unedited, from my current resume:
I am a high-energy analytic with a focus on solving complex problems within the insurance claims industry through the creative use of systems, technology and management. I am a proven team coordinator with strong leadership and communication skills that can quickly integrate into any team dynamic.
While it pains me to read these words, they are all true, even though I can find countless faults with each of these statements and quickly disqualify myself from any position, the point is to show you are confident enough to recognize your own unique strengths. And even more important is that you can communicate these clearly. My career in the claims industry has taken a turn towards management and consulting over the past few years, which this profile statement recognizes and articulates well.
Remember earlier we talked about specific company experience and whether or not you shared this information. Here is where I want to encourage you to be selective in what you share. Chances are you have worked or are currently working for a multitude of companies. If that is the case, why would you want a prospective client to perceive that you may be overcommitted or extended beyond capacity?
I think that you are much better off defining your experience in the roles that you have served in rather than each individual company. We’ve already touched on this so I want go into too much detail, just use each role in place of where you would normally highlight an individual company experience and keep all of the information relevant to that role. Here are the roles I have defined on my current resume:
As an adjuster that strictly works in the field, you may want to consider something like this:
Just make sure that the roles you choose can be filled with plenty of relevant details.
I am a firm believer in being very detailed in your experience as an adjuster. Instead of stating that you have worked a multitude of claims, get specific, but do so in a narrative format so that it does not read like a stat sheet. For example:
In 2015, I received, coordinated and completed over 400 residential catastrophe assignments, ranging in scope from $3000 to over $100,000. In addition, I completed over 65 commercial assignments varied in complexity with loss amounts between $10,000 and $300,000.
You may also want to dive into specific details of particularly hairy assignments. Perhaps going into what made that adjustment successful or perhaps unsuccesful (litigation and PA experience is highly favorable). No matter how you fill these details, it is important to reiterate that you solved whatever unique problem there was and how you did it.
No matter how you fill these details, it is important to reiterate that you solved whatever unique problem there was and how you did it.
In our industry, education is not a requirement for working as an adjuster. I know many college graduates that strictly work residential hail claims as well as holders of nothing more than a high school diploma in executive roles. Your resume does not have to be filled with educational accolades, unless of course you have them. Of greater importance may be industry specific accreditations, such as AIC or CPCU.
I personally leave education off of my resume to make room for more important items.
While we’re at it, let’s touch on white space. If I have learned anything from my design background, it is the importance of white space. The words on the page are just as important as what surrounds them. I have known adjusters that try to cram every experience they have had onto one page and it looks like a cluttered mess. I have also personally reviewed resumes more than 10 pages in length, which is just plain excessive.
Here’s my take; use no more than one page unless you are applying for an executive position. Put only enough information on that page to leave the person reviewing the resume with a good feel of who you are but also with a desire to get to know you more. The best way to strike this balance is by communicating with HR departments before sending your resume to let them get to know you and more importantly, learn more about them.
Put only enough information on that page to leave the person reviewing the resume with a good feel of who you are but also with a desire to get to know you more.
Keep all of your sections spaced out and make sure your resume is equally scan-able and readable at the same time. I favor a two-column approach with keywords and experiences down the left side column, which takes up about 1/3 of the page and then all my experience on the right. This helps me get past the robo-reviewers that are scanning for keywords yet appeal to the HR manager that finally gets to review it.
While you may be inclined to write a resume in Microsoft Word or a similar word processor, be sure that you have saved it in at least three formats:
Microsoft Word/RTF - this is popular on many websites for resume submission as the document can then be manipulated to fill in a personnel file or profile by copy/paste
PDF - this format allows your resume to maintain a consistent look and feel no matter who receives it (I primarily use this format when emailing)
Plain Text - these files are the smallest and contain no formatting, however, they are quite popular on large job sites due to their web server friendliness
As a manager for a large nation-wide IA firm, I had the opportunity to see a HUGE amount of resumes. The one thing that always stood out to me were those adjusters that used simple language to communicate a wide variety of experience and were as detailed as possible. Not to mention that this was a great example of their writing skills, use of spelling and grammar, which were important for the job they would be doing.
The one thing that always stood out to me were those adjusters that used simple language to communicate a wide variety of experience and were as detailed as possible.
Also, anyone willing to take a unique approach stood out. I personally use color in my resume because I think it stands out, especially considering that no one really prints these things out anymore. If you arent up for color, find something just as unique. I always thought it would be fun to write a resume like a narrative report and use the captions to describe my experience. The point being, don’t be afraid to stand out, as long it’s in a good way. I rarely reached the last page of a lengthy resume, the individual may have had great experience, but I needed to be able to make a quick judgement or jot down some questions for an interview, not read a lengthy document.
We have barely scratched the surface of what all could be included in a resume, let alone the fact that resumes and job experience are becoming more relevant in the digital world (which we will talk about in a future article). We also have not discussed the importance of a cover letter and why you should always include one (also the topic for another day). Hopefully though you have gained enough inspiration to tackle updating your current resume or creating a new one. Let’s discuss your resume tips in the comments or on social media.
IndieAdjuster.org aims to be the number one resource for professional and aspiring independent adjusters on the web. We have spent years working claims, shaking hands, forming relationships and learning the hard way so you dont have to. Our strategy and goal is simple - be honest, work hard and help others succeed in this business.
Signing up for our email updates is a convenient way to get all the latest news from IndieAdjuster.org delivered directly to your inbox!
Check out some of the recent articles listed below or feel free to browse our entire catalog of articles which are guaranteed to motivate, inspire, teach and encourage you as an independent adjuster.
We want to be in your community, help spread the word by following us on your favorite social media platform.