I’ve heard it so many different times from clients in all different fields, from logistics to marketing to nursing: “Well, I never thought about doing this before, but they found my resume online and they really want me–they said I’d be great!”
After hearing this from a lot of different clients over the years, I hate to break it to you: they’re picking you and a whole lot of other people.
The job they’re all talking about? Life insurance sales! While it may seem flattering that a big-name life insurance company has picked YOU, please understand that their outreach is part of a continuous and robust recruiting effort.
Why do they recruit so aggressively?
This area of sales is one of the highest-turnover jobs out there: about 80% turnover! So they constantly need to replenish their workforce and find new blood.
The reason for the high turnover is simple: being a life agent is usually 100% commission, meaning you don’t receive a base salary. It’s an easy job to land, but a hard job to succeed in. It’s only suited to hard-core salespeople who love networking, cold-calling, and selling.
The industry’s willingness to bring in people who’ve never done sales means that many of them won’t last long at all.
These companies are avid users of job boards and they often target recently unemployed people who have uploaded their resumes to job boards.
One thing should be clear: don’t allow yourself to be overly flattered by receiving recruitment messages for these positions.
If you’re going to move your career in an entirely different direction, it should be based your long-term career goals, not based on the mere fact that a company is desperate for new recruits and gives you the impression they’ve chosen you because you’re special.
Is it right for you?
If you’re in sales and love it, but want to change industries, this could certainly be an option. You’d be selling a very meaningful product that can make the difference between a good quality of life and a terrible quality of life for families when they face tragedy.
Do your research first to learn more about the pros and cons of working in the industry, and also compare it to other industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life insurance agents make a median wage of $48K a year, with the lowest-paid making less than $26K and the highest-paid making more than $117K a year. The creme de la creme can make multi-six-figures, but we’re talking about a select few.
I suspect that many of the lowest paid ones are folks who do it as a side hustle and retirees who do it as a part-time source of income to supplement their savings, investments, pensions, and social security.
Could this be a temporary source of income?
If you’re thinking of doing this while you’re in between jobs, you need to understand that this is NOT the type of job where you can reasonably expect to start making good money right off the bat.
You could put in 40 hours a week and make $0 if you don’t close any deals. (Meanwhile, working that many hours could also stymie your search for an ideal permanent position.)
Commission-only sales is similar to being a solo entrepreneur or freelancer in many ways. It takes time and effort to build the business, and very few people make a good living in their first year. (Let’s just say I did NOT make six figures during 2009, my first full year of being 100% self employed.) Over time, it’s possible to do well with the right strategies, execution, and work ethic.
What other temporary options are there?
There are other ways you could make money while you’re in transition. If you have experience and contacts in a particular industry, you could try picking up consulting or freelance work relevant to your profession.
For a marketing executive, this could mean filling in for a fellow marketing exec who’s on maternity leave. A logistics executive could consult on the redesign of a distribution network. This experience can be incorporated on your resume and LinkedIn profile to fill the gap as long as you make it clear it’s temporary.
If you’re really strapped for cash, have limited options, and need anything you can get, there are also “gig economy” jobs like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart–or you could get a job delivering pizzas. While these jobs might not have the white-collar vibe of insurance sales, they can produce immediate income rather than the mere hope of possibly making commissions.