An improving economy is a good development, for every industry and for many reasons. Yet, even as it opens more doors for job-seekers, it can make a recruiter’s job considerably more difficult. Add the fact that other marketplace factors are evolving as well, and the situation becomes even more complex. So how are those in the insurance industry coping?

Let’s look at some key trends that are shaping insurance recruiting in 2018 and beyond.

Baby boomers are heading out, but are millennials heading in?

A couple of years ago, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the insurance industry would lose almost 400,000 Baby Boomers to retirement. Those waves of retiring Baby Boomers continue to transform the human side of the workplace landscape. In two ways, actually.

They’re leaving a huge talent gap in their wake. On the other hand, some folks who are eligible to retire don’t feel ready to do that. They’re anxious to cut back, so they can have more “me time” while they’re still healthy enough to enjoy themselves. But they don’t want to lose the connectedness and mental stimulation they get from working.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for employers. By retaining (or hiring) “retirees” on a part-time basis, companies get all the experience and insight only a seasoned insurance pro can provide. But they can forego expenses for benefits typically provided only to full-time employees. Some employers are also bringing in retirees as independent consultants.

Nonetheless, part-time help cannot fill the “experience gap” insurance carriers and agencies face when they hire people right out of school. To keep their competitive edge and bring on more experienced new hires, some companies are looking in non-traditional directions. At least one carrier is now recruiting nurses and doctors to fill underwriting positions, individuals with investment backgrounds to fill accounting positions, and sales and marketing pros from other industries to take on new challenges in insurance.

 

But the fact remains that insurance companies will have to attract millennials if they expect to fill open positions. PricewaterhouseCoopers addressed this challenge in their 2016 annual report on top issues facing the industry, noting that “it is vital for insurers to develop a performance-driven culture that enables the recruitment, development, and retention of younger underwriting talent.” Ernst and Young has also noted that “next-generation innovators and leaders” will be key to industry success.

Unfortunately, millennials aren’t particularly excited about insurance.

Frankly, insurance just isn’t sexy

Insurance carriers are having to compete with other industries as well as each other to attract the eye of top talent. That’s not easy in a marketplace where insurance careers aren’t even on the radar of many potential employees.

Employers need to get the word out, says State Farm’s Teresa Poppe . “Many students feel the only opportunity in an insurance company is working as an agent,” she laments. She believes employers must both educate students and proactively market the entire range of insurance industry opportunities, including jobs in underwriting, claims, human resources, marketing, etc.

Meanwhile, candidates are snapping up job offers

Despite increasing openings for job-seekers, recruiters note that many candidates are not hesitating to grab the first good offer they get. Perhaps this is a residual effect of pent-up desire to make a move, thwarted by years of a struggling economy. Whether the reason is based on forward-thinking career strategy or purely personal (the lure of a new location, for example), some HR pros say they hardly even have a chance to compete for a desirable candidate’s attention before someone else has landed them.

 

This underscores the continued need to discover and engage with prospective candidates before they are actively on the hunt for a new position. Knowing who could be considering a move soon, or those who could be open to outreach, could be the make-or-break advantage that brings the person you want most in your door.

Finding and developing relationships with possible candidates is not a new challenge, in the insurance industry or in others. But being proactive is a must-use tactic now, because . . .

It’s all about creating opportunities

Networking has never been more important for insurance industry recruiters. While it’s nothing new for recruiters to search for and engage with prospects via social media as well as in-person events, developing relationships early is now critical. If candidates are entering and then disappearing from the market seemingly overnight, waiting until they are available is far too late.

Some companies that aren’t necessarily in hiring mode say they’re willing to create a position if they find a great-fitting person, rather than take a chance on losing them. A new person in a new position can open new doors, enabling the company to begin a new program, expand into a new product line, or augment marketing and customer relations.

 

Along that same line, as insurance companies and agencies expand to meet growing business needs, companies are re-creating and filling mid-level positions jettisoned due to the Great Recession. A better-fleshed-out team (so to speak) boosts efficiency. But companies that adopt this strategy earliest may also be in the best position to undertake innovative new initiatives and capture unforeseen business opportunities before their competitors who are still hindered by a pared-down team.

Money still matters, but employers have lost an advantage

Recruiters are well aware that today’s most desirable candidates are often swayed by benefits other than monetary compensation. Nonetheless, salaries do matter to job-seekers. In the past, many employers have tried to remain competitive without over-paying by basing offers on a candidate’s past earnings, at least to some extent. Now, that option is gone.

State after state has enacted laws that prohibit employers from asking an applicant to reveal their current salary. And industry watchers expect this trend to sweep the country. This new “don’t ask, don’t tell” imperative is one of the most significant trends in insurance industry recruiting, and it underscores the importance of non-monetary benefits, both tangible and intangible.

Recruiters and the C-level executives they report to will have to review and buff up, if necessary, their entire benefits package. It’s not a matter of creating a longer list of options. The question is, what steps are you taking to ensure every component in your benefits package is well-aligned with the most pressing needs and fondest desires of your employees? Millennials demand customizable options, but every employee wants relevant benefits.

With lifestyle taking precedence with so many younger workers especially, companies located in areas that are highly desirable from a lifestyle standpoint are using that to lure targeted candidates.

So where is the insurance industry headed?

According to Monster.com, the fastest-growing segments of the insurance industry are health insurance and medical services. They attribute this to aging Baby Boomers purchasing long-term care policies as well as pension-related products such as annuities. On the other hand, the trend for the auto insurance sector is looking less healthy, thanks to increasing competition that is driving down rates.

Regardless what lines they offer, insurance companies will have to rise to the challenges of a growing economy by ensuring they are well-covered behind the scenes. That could indicate an uptick in hiring for positions in actuarial and underwriting, risk management, tax and accounting, compliance, and marketing and public relations.

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