After deciding on job change, business insurance adviser shares lessons learned

May 17, 2018

This piece presented by Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company

By Tracy Skuza, business insurance client adviser

Change is scary. There’s a reason there are books, academic programs, seminars and a whole host of resources devoted to managing it. Because change makes us vulnerable to the unknown, we tend to avoid it – myself included.

Last month, I made a change and joined the team at Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company. I’m loving my new role, but it wasn’t a decision I came to easily. In fact, it nearly wasn’t a decision I considered at all. Having gone through the process, here are some things I’d encourage others who are asking themselves “Is this job a good fit for me?” to consider.

Is it a good fit for your current work situation?

Over the past few years, several individuals approached me about joining Howalt+McDowell, and I’d always brushed them off. I was happily managing a book of business as a sales associate in personal lines at Farm Bureau Financial Services, and starting all over again seemed too daunting a task. However, with my kids getting older, I began to feel the itch for a new challenge. The tipping point for me was being able to leave my job with Farm Bureau under good terms, knowing that I had the support of my boss and my clients would be well taken care of.

Lesson: Have proactive conversations with your existing employer to devise a transition plan for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Is it a good fit for your passions?

I got into insurance like most people – by accident! My degree is in speech pathology. But faced with funding cuts for the position in that field I was in, I decided to make a career change and found my way into insurance. Speech pathology and insurance may seem worlds apart, but my true passion is helping people, and both lines of work have empowered me to do that. Our clients trust us to be the expert and advocate in the unfortunate event they have to file a claim. But no one wants to actually have to use their insurance. The Howalt+McDowell team prioritizes preventing risks in the first place; protecting business owners and their employees from having to go through an unpleasant event that could have been avoided is incredibly satisfying.

Lesson: Passion for a job is not just derived from the day-to-day tasks but also the end outcomes.

Is it a good fit for your values?

When you spend upward of eight or more hours a day at work, you want an environment that is harmonious with your own internal motivations. One of the things that struck me the most when considering changing jobs was Howalt+McDowell’s commitment to the community. From matching employee contributions, to time off for volunteering, to championing local charities, Howalt+McDowell’s focus on philanthropy empowers me to give generously back to my community.

Lesson: Much like customers prefer to do business with companies whose ideals match their own, employees also prefer to work for employers who support their personal motives.

Is it a good fit for your family?

As a mother of five children and a wife of a soon-to-be-retiring firefighter for the city of Sioux Falls, my career can’t just be a fit for me. The flexible work-life balance and excellent benefits package Howalt+McDowell offers ensures I am able to be involved in my kids’ many activities – from choir to ball games to taekwondo – and provides needed stability for health insurance, retirement and other voluntary benefits.

Lesson: Involve your family in the discussion and carefully consider the implications, both negative and positive, that a job change will have on them.

Is it a good fit for your future goals?

Unlike my husband, I have no plans to retire anytime soon. So it was important that my career decisions put me in a good position for both my short- and long-term professional outlook. Howalt+McDowell is a growing organization that places a concerted emphasis on employee development. Since it is the Sioux Falls office of Marsh & McLennan Agency, a nationwide organization, employees have lots of opportunities to learn and advance. Though I enjoy the more predictable pace of being on the service team, there are paths to move back into sales or even a leadership role in future.

Lesson: Don’t just look at the job as it exists now. How will it shape your career for the next five years, 10 years and beyond?

Ultimately, only you can make the decision about whether a job change is right for you. But I nearly missed out on the opportunity to join a great organization doing work that I’m devoted to, invigorated by and thriving in because I was comfortable where I was at. There are many reasons why sticking with your current job might be the best choice, but fear of change shouldn’t be one of them.

After deciding on job change, business insurance adviser shares lessons learned

Change can be hard, but this woman went through a process that led to a rewarding new job.

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