It’s no secret that most college students simply aren’t aware of insurance careers. Only 2% of millennials consider themselves “very familiar” with the insurance industry—and fewer than 10% say they’re interested in joining the profession, according to research from the Griffith Insurance Education Foundation.
That harsh reality means insurance employers can’t simply post entry-level job openings online and wait for the applications to roll in—especially if they’re trying to attract the best and the brightest. You need to be proactive if you want to compete with industries that young people are more familiar with. Here are five steps to get started.
1) Focus your efforts. With limited resources, you can make meaningful, personal connections at only so many colleges. If your agency doesn’t have a robust campus recruiting program, first identify your key targets to determine where to focus your efforts. For insurance organizations in particular, the first place you should look is schools that have established risk management and insurance programs.
Nearly 40 colleges and universities offer undergraduate major programs for risk management and insurance, and many more offer minors, graduate programs and individual classes, according to a 2014 study by St. John’s University and the International Insurance Society.
2) Reach out. Yes, you can contact a college’s career center. Yes, you can send an engaging, dynamic post to the school’s job board. And yes, you can host an inviting informational table at career fairs. All these official channels are great ways to catch the attention of students who are looking for jobs.
But there are other ways to reach prospective applicants. Check for business-focused student groups or clubs like Gamma Iota Sigma, the insurance, risk management and actuarial science organization. Gamma Iota Sigma has more than 65 chapters across the U.S. with ambitious students who are already familiar and involved with the insurance field. Find a chapter near you and offer to send a guest speaker or host an informational lunch—college students won’t turn down free food.
3) Use your connections. Chances are you already have some untapped recruitment resources in your ranks. Identify employees at your agency who are alumni of the schools you’re targeting, especially recent grads. Encourage them to stay active in alumni groups and share news about job opportunities at your firm.
Internship programs are another great way to generate awareness of your business: You get support for your team, and the interns gain valuable professional experience. They may even spread the word about your agency on campus.
4) Put your best foot forward. Make sure your company’s online presence and recruiting resources are as strong as they can be. Your website should look inviting and provide easy access to your social media channels. Include solid information on key websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Glassdoor, Vault and others. If you’re really ambitious, create dedicated channels on sites like YouTube. Basically, make it as easy as possible for potential applicants to find information about you.
Ideally, your social media presence should have a personal feel and give students an idea of what it’s really like to work for you. Careers in insurance organizations are often misrepresented, so you need to go the extra mile to prove that your workplace is rewarding and fulfilling.
5) Rein in your strongest applicants. All these efforts are only half the battle. If the people you’re attracting really are talented, you’re probably competing with other organizations to get them. To reel them in, consider giving applicants some personal attention. If you’re making an offer, specifically refer to topics you discussed during the interview process, or send a handwritten note.
Millennials especially want to understand how they fit in to the mission of the organization; they want to feel valued as a unique addition to the group. Some firms even ask their CEO or another execs to give the applicant a call to extend the job offer themselves. If you’ve done a good job up to that point, that applicant may become the future CEO.
Elizabeth M. Walsh is vice president at Societies and Griffith, The Institutes | Risk and Insurance Knowledge Group.