Besides some who grew up in insurance, too few young people see the business as a viable career choice. That calls for added creativity when it comes to filling vacancies.
FIVE UNLIKELY PLACES TO FIND NEW EMPLOYEES
Are you looking for new team members in all the same places your competitors are?
By Michael Wayne
Our industry is aging. At every level, colleagues are retiring. And the shortage of individuals entering the world of insurance has created a dearth when it comes to viable replacements. For many who have been paying attention to the issue, their action plan up until now has likely included pilfering talent from competing agencies or trying to determine best practices to ward off adversarial poaching. But swiping employees is not a sustainable practice, and it is time we turned our eyes outward to find the insurance professionals that we need.
Aside from some who grew up in insurance because their parents are or were a part of the independent agency system, there hasn’t been a lot of times when the response to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” has been, “I want to sell insurance,” “I want to be an account manager and handle the day-to-day issues that organizations face related to their insurance needs,” or “I want to advocate for clients as they navigate the claims process when they have an issue.”
Insurance is not mentioned in the same breath as doctor, lawyer, teacher, astronaut, football player, or actor. Unquestionably, the industry has a perception problem that requires a drastic makeover. That issue cannot be solved in the confines of this article, but what I can do is provide some unlikely places for you to find new employees.
High school career fairs/career days
As the saying goes, “If you don’t want a rotten apple, don’t pick from the barrel. Go to the tree.” Your college fair booth is not likely to draw the attention of many junior and senior job seekers. Participating in those events can be beneficial, but only if you have someone who can efficiently grab the attention of a 20- or 21-year-old.
Focus younger. Find a way to pair high school students with a mentor in your organization and offer them an internship or week-long work experience that revolves around what interests them. If they can’t see themselves being excited to be a part of your team at 17 or 18, before they go to college, you aren’t likely to win them over at this stage. This is the perfect time to show a young student that they can actually make a great living without going to a four-year institution and accumulating massive debt for a degree that they may not actually ever use.
[S]wiping employees is not a sustainable practice, and it is time we turned our eyes outward to find the insurance professionals that we need.
Everyone may know your agency or brokerage as a thriving part of the community. Maybe you work at a large organization that has a statewide, regional, national, or even international presence. In any event, hopefully you and your employees are participating in community activities and events geared toward making where you are a better place to be. Odds are your agency isn’t the only organization taking part and you are being exposed to countless other neighbors who are passionate about a cause and their community. Is there any doubt that some of their skills can be translated into an insurance career? Don’t be afraid to have a conversation.
Social media has changed our lives immeasurably. While Facebook has allowed us another means to stay current with relatives, friends, and acquaintances, LinkedIn has provided an avenue for us to connect with colleagues, including those from past work lives. There is nothing preventing you from reaching out to a former co-worker that you think has what it takes to make it in the insurance industry. It is less stressful to contact someone with whom you have a prior relationship and try to successfully recruit them than it is harvesting résumés cold, right? While it would be extremely tempting to reach out to only the co-workers that you had a very close relationship with, part of your thought process should be to think of the colleagues that you had admiration for, those whose work made them stand out for positive reasons.
Pressure under fire
Sometimes when a client is calling in to your agency, the reason isn’t a happy one. More often than not, there is a crisis that requires immediate attention and a cool head. Nine times out of 10 (no, this isn’t scientific) a calm tone with a sense of confidence will be enough to open the lines of communication enough so that an initially hostile person can be lured into a rational conversation with a positive outcome. Look for people outside of your office when you are shopping, when you are at a restaurant, when you are at an event—wherever—who have the ability to not get flustered when they are assisting someone who is looking to have their world made whole again.
Out of the mouths of babes
Simply stated, you children, your employees’ children, your friends’ children, your nieces, your nephews—basically anyone you know who may know someone of college age—can be a resource. They may not want to work for you, but odds are they know someone who would make a great intern or potential future employee. Make sure you share with them the types of people you are looking for and the skills that will be necessary to be successful. Don’t try to sell the position. Sell the personality that you want to be a part of your team. You can always train for the position.
By thinking differently, you may find it easier—and faster—to deal with a challenge virtually every one of your competitors is facing. And that can represent a serious advantage.