January 8, 2015
The First Step in Recruiting Millennials
In the second article in a series, the author -- himself just 21 -- explains how to start to build relationships with young prospects.
Now that your efforts have made some Millennials flock toward working in the insurance industry, you need to start recruiting them for your open positions. (If they aren’t yet flocking, read my past article to get some ideas on how to get them to do so: Thoughts From an Insurance Millennial.)
But if you are waiting to recruit Millennials until you have a job opening, this may be too late.
Let’s face it, unless you’re a well-known, direct personal lines carrier with a lizard mascot or a catchy jingle to make your agents magically appear when your clients need them, most young people won’t know who you are. This is one reason to reinforce continuous, conversational efforts in recruiting high-potential Millennials.
Your first contact with your possible candidate can’t be advertising to apply for your full-time position. It is essential to build relationships with these potential employees before they hit the full-time job market. You can do this through a variety of ways:
1. Temporary Employment (Internships, Part-Time Jobs, Summer Employment)
This isn’t a revolutionary idea by any means. Employers have been using young people for temporary work for decades. But internships can be a great way to build relationships with high school and college students looking to reinforce their learning with real-world responsibilities. This is a great way for employers to teach these students about their business practices and products and services. It is low risk and a way to evaluate the skills of an applicant before the company is tied to a full-time position. If handled right, interns can blossom into top candidates for future job openings. But this is also a chance for employers to ruin their brand with the youth population. I’ll expand on the do’s and do not’s of internships in a future article.
2. ‘Externships’ (Job Shadowing, Career Days, Seminars)
If you don’t have the work, budget or resources to employ people in temporary positions, you can host job shadowing opportunities or travel places for “career days” and seminars. These opportunities are usually called “externships” because they look at careers and the industry from an external and broad view. Interested students could be paired with professionals in your company to ask questions, observe daily workflow and build a relationship for the day. Trusted, intelligent employees could speak at seminars or career days to give insight to an audience. Externships are another great way to market your company to interested students and begin connecting with potential employees. Many college career centers could help you link up with students interested in learning more about the industry or instructors who teach classes related to the business.
3. Challenges and Projects
As discussed in my past article, challenges and projects could help spark some curiosity in students pursuing careers in the industry. You can continue advanced challenges and projects for young Millennials to evaluate skills and maintain a relationship. Partner with professors teaching risk management and insurance classes to develop real-world projects. Many professors would be more than willing to help with this. Get creative, and make it a valuable learning exercise.
4. Strategic Social Media Usage
Interacting with students via social media is no longer a competitive advantage; it’s a must for companies and an effective way to continuously connect with Millennials. Companies can have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. that have material relevant to young, interested users. Many businesses have created separate accounts just for Millennials. The key is to provide material this generation wants to read. Millennials don’t need more bland product marketing shoved down their throats. We’ve gotten pretty good at being able to skim over ads. Potential posts could include:
- Entry-level job openings
- Scholarship opportunities
- Articles and blogs tailored to youthful thinking and professional development (Example: 8 Things Today’s College Student Must Invest in to Get Hired)
- Philanthropic activities and community involvement (Example: Insurance Industry Gives Back)
- Videos and readings relevant to the industry (Example: Crop Insurance – An Idea Worth Seeding)
But with great power comes great responsibility. Make sure all accounts are up to date, complete and responsive. Put a face to the account, and make it easy to navigate. But don’t overdo the activity with insignificant post, tweets, videos and blog articles.
It is time to stop being reactive to job openings and start being proactive. Human Resources should have a handful of potential candidates for the start of each career ladder in the organization. Fill the talent pipeline by building the relationships early with this generation.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has already taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw