3 Tips for Succeeding in Your Actuarial Career

Those who have found their way to the highest levels of the actuarial profession have displayed common habits and characteristics that we can all learn from. In order to be the best, you first have to learn from the best. Here are 3 career tips to help you progress quickly and achieve more throughout your actuarial career.

Make sure your goals are SMART

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Creating well defined parameters for your goals is as important as the goals themselves. Think of your goals as rungs on a ladder. You need to have one within a comfortable reach so that once you’ve used it to pull yourself up a bit, you’re better able to get a grip on the rung that was previously out of reach.  If your goals are too broad, open ended, or are unrealistic, you may be setting yourself up for slower progress.

Work Hard Toward Your Goals

You must set short and long-term professional goals for yourself. And then work hard, very hard toward achieving them. A man once reflected about the success he enjoyed in his career. He said that “the harder I worked, the luckier I got.” Luck? Not likely.

It was the first half of that statement that led to his success. If you aren’t willing to work harder than the people around you, then you can’t expect your career to outperform theirs. If you want greater responsibility, greater compensation, and faster promotions, you have to demonstrate your capacity to handle your current responsibilities in a manner that leaves colleagues and managers certain as to your abilities now and even more so in the future. Each assignment that you undertake is a reflection on you and your potential.

There is no mystery to this formula: Goals + Hard Work = Success.

Semi-Annual Career Check Ups

The annual performance review is a fact of life in corporate America. It is a tool that management uses to review your performance, but just as importantly, it is a development tool for you. After your annual review with your manager, ask yourself the following 2 simple questions:

  1. Is your manager indicating that you are performing at a high level, a level necessary for you to achieve your professional goals?
  2. Are you actively following the advice in this section of “difference makers”?

We hope the answer to both questions is “yes”. If not, then as stated in the previous Difference Maker, you’ve got some hard work ahead of you. After meeting with your manager, put an entry in your calendar for 6 months out. Annual self-reflection is not enough; you should review your goals, performance, and plan for achieving your goals at least every six months.


For the complete list of Actuarial career tips and “Difference makers” get your copy of Achieving Your Pinnacle – A Career Guide For Actuaries for free here!