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The U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that no jobs were added in August marking the first time there has been a net zero addition of jobs in nearly a year; unemployment remains at 9.1 percent. This level of continued unemployment and depressed job growth is pushing some people to look for other opportunities where they can make the most of their existing skill sets.

“We find strong candidates from various industries,” says Larry Kwalwaser, director, staffing and employee development for Combined Insurance, a leading supplemental insurance provider, which is looking to hire 2500 new sales agents in 2011.

While the company is looking for licensed agents or at least people with sales experience, Kwalwaser says they are also seeking people who are energetic, personable and self-disciplined. “Sales skills and product knowledge can be taught; drive and ambition cannot.” According to Kwalwaser, Combined Insurance provides all new sales agents with a comprehensive two-week training course followed by ongoing training in the field. “This helps people redirect their skills from other industries and jobs to contribute to a successful career in insurance sales.”

Many sales positions are commission-based, which can be daunting to someone out of work without any sales experience. But these jobs may offer additional benefits that help balance the risk.

For example, Combined Insurance agents are employees of the company, not independent contractors. Therefore, the company is able to offer health and retirement benefits (after completing an eligibility period). Kwalwaser adds, “A commission-based insurance job offers self-driven income potential, which is attractive for the right person.” In addition, some opportunities may offer some income guarantee in the beginning to help a new salesperson get up to speed. Combined Insurance currently has a program wherein new agents who are in their first 13 weeks of employment and who meet basic production requirements, are guaranteed a minimum of $500 in income weekly.

“One of the best parts of this career is that my pay raises are self driven. I determine what I make based on what I do. There aren’t many jobs out there like that,” says Audrey Sechler, a Combined Insurance sales agent who joined the company in May 2010.  In addition to commissions, some sales jobs offer bonuses and incentive prizes for higher levels of productivity.

Sechler also appreciates the advancement opportunity. “In less than a year, I was able to advance to an account executive – what the company considers a ‘platinum’ agent – a level that offers higher commission rates and bonuses.” According to Kwalwaser, Combined Insurance offers two sales career paths – one for those who want to move into sales management and one for those who want to remain in personal sales.

“A sales career can also be a great opportunity for someone leaving active military duty,” notes Kwalwaser. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the first half of 2010, the average unemployment rate for new veterans was 12.5 percent. Late last year, Combined Insurance hired a U.S. Navy veteran to lead efforts to recruit high-potential candidates transitioning from military service to the private sector. “By recruiting recently discharged veterans, we are able to hire individuals who possess the qualities of a successful sales agent like discipline, self-motivation and commitment.”

Anyone interested in a sales opportunity with Combined Insurance can apply online through the company’s website:

About Combined Insurance

Combined Insurance ( is a leading provider of supplemental accident, health and life insurance products and is a member of the ACE Group of Companies. With a field sales force and corporate staff in excess of 10,000 people worldwide, Combined Insurance meets the growing coverage needs of policyholders around the globe. For more information, call 1-800-490-1322 or visit

About ACE

ACE Group is one of the world’s largest multiline property and casualty insurers. With operations in 54 countries, ACE provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. ACE Limited, the parent company of ACE Group, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACE) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Additional information can be found at