Insurance companies have job openings and are clearly hungry for talent, but there is a disconnect between them and the college market. Students know very little about insurance and even fewer enroll in college with the dream of becoming an underwriter or an actuary. In fact, if you ask someone in the industry, you’ll most likely hear the phrase “I just fell into it”.
I had the incredible opportunity to attend Insurance Day, a two day recruiting and industry awareness event held by the Cal State Fullerton Center for Insurance Studies (CIS). There was quite the turnout – 35 employers and hundreds of eager job seekers. But what really stood out to me was not the students gathered around the booths.
It was the students who walked straight past the booths, completely ignoring the high paying job and internship opportunities. As impactful as Steve G. Mihaylo’s donation may have been, I found it hard to believe that every single one of those students has a job lined up for after graduation. Under the guise of a CIS volunteer, I took the time to ask a couple questions:
Here’s what I heard:
“I’m not really interested in insurance because I don’t want to do sales.”
“I’m interested in math and computer science and insurance doesn’t really apply to me.”
College students simply don’t know enough about insurance. They think that insurance is about door to door life insurance sales, when in reality jobs range from claims adjusters to actuaries to underwriters. These roles span a whole host of skillsets and there is a place in the industry for everyone.
The current solution involves on-campus tables that offer free swag and brochures to students who may or not be interested. CIS also does a great job of educating students with relevant courses and leadership organizations.
But what about the liberal arts colleges like Carleton where students don’t know the first thing about business/finance, much less insurance? How can we educate students about opportunities in a way that doesn’t scare them off? How can we reach a mass demographic of students instead of the handful who have already taken 3 actuarial exams? One thing is for certain: they won’t be learning it on their own.
We don’t offer people jobs . . . we offer them pathways.
I had a chance to speak with Tom Nerney, CEO of USLI, about how he hires and retains talent. His answer: “We don’t offer people jobs . . . we offer them pathways”. USLI doesn’t have a HR department, yet it has a retention rate of 10/10 analysts. USLI has done this by crafting a culture of mentorship, where incoming hires feel that they have the guidance and support network to build their careers.
He’s right. We millennials are a curious bunch. We’re smart and curious and excited to find unique opportunities that develop ourselves holistically. An underwriting training program doesn’t sound nearly as enticing as the opportunity to learn about every aspect of the insurance business through mentors and open guidance.
How do we solve this?
If the insurance industry does really need to hire talent then it needs to change the way that it approaches young people. Posting open positions on your website is not nearly enough and we all know that career centers won’t be educating students on the difference between underwriters and actuaries any time soon. There needs to be a way for the people who “fell into insurance” to share their stories. Students need to understand that going into insurance isn’t about getting a job. It’s about starting a career – one that’s filled with limitless growth opportunities, tough problems to solve, and phenomenal mentors.
How do we do this?
A social network where students can ask questions and get answers from people who work in insurance. A way for insurance professionals to share their stories via text, video, or face-to-face interactions. A recruiting tool where insurers can see who their applicants are outside their resumes and gauge their interest in the industry based on site engagement.
Originally published on October 12, 2015