Posted by: yacmichigan | July 24, 2014

The Key to Recruiting Millennials? Make Them Feel Special

The Key to Recruiting Millennials? Make Them Feel Special by Jacquelyn Connelly

Reprinted From IA Magazine July 18, 2014

During a recent webinar, Applied Systems asked an audience of insurance agents whether they have a plan in place to attract and hire young talent. An overwhelming majority—83%—said no.

It’s a disappointing statistic given that in 15 years, as much as 50% of the current insurance workforce will retire.

“If you’re not paying attention to millennials, you should be,” said Christen Kelly, product marketing manager for Applied Systems, who moderated the webinar. “Each industry has to pass the baton from one generation to the next—ours is no different.”

Independent agents have been hearing for a long time that their industry has a great story to tell—they just need to tell it better. But industry leaders say laying out the status quo for Generation Y is not enough to even get their attention, let alone convince them to join the insurance industry.

“The perception among young professionals is that insurance is suited for the older workforce,” Kelly said.

“Historically speaking, when you mention the word ‘insurance,’ it turns people off,” agreed panelist Brooks Zeigler, a producer at Morris and Templeton Insurance Agency in Savannah, Ga. “Millennials have been conditioned by their parents and grandparents to roll their eyes.”

So what does a winning perpetuation strategy involve? According to Michael Howe, senior vice president of product management at Applied Systems, insurance agencies shouldn’t try to prove they’re a great place to work. Instead, they should focus on what needs to improve—and tell millennials their unique skill set will be crucial to future success.

“The agencies that adjust and alter the way they do business, the technology they bring, how they do marketing, how they do selling—they’re actually adjusting the way the agency works to fit the millennial, not vice-versa,” Howe explains.

For example, a millennial producer might rely heavily on social media and mobile technology to generate leads. “Those are the tools that come naturally to them to find customers,” Howe says. “Back 10-15 years ago, there was no agency in the world that was finding new customers via social media. Today, you see it all the time—agencies bring in millennials and engage them with what they’re good at, and they leverage that as a strength.”

And that’s the key to attracting young talent: telling them they have something to offer that nobody else can bring to the table. Millennials don’t want to hear about what your business can do for them—they want to hear about what they can do for your business.

“You have to better communicate why the industry needs the unique skills and DNA of this generation,” Howe says. “If you’re trying to pitch someone coming out of college to go work at the agency stuck in 1983, good luck with that. But if you can communicate to the person coming out of college, ‘Look, you’re the future and we’re changing our business to better suit your unique skills’—you’ve got their attention now.”

That’s because knowing they’ll be on the vanguard of where an industry needs to go—and that they’ll play a big role in making a difference for the business—is much more appealing than simply joining one they perceive as stodgy or boring.

“Put yourself in the shoes of someone coming right out of college,” Howe says. “You’re considering two pitches: ‘Come work in an industry where we’ve been doing it the same way for 25 years,’ or ‘We know we need to change, the business is really evolving and we need people like you to help us evolve into that new world.’ Which company would you join?”

Want to know exactly what millennials are looking for in a career and how insurance agencies like yours are adapting to deliver what Gen Y employees value? Keep an eye on IAmagazine.com and the upcoming edition of our monthly Fast Focus e-newsletter.

Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor. – See more at: http://www.iamagazine.com/strategies/read/2014/07/18/the-key-to-recruiting-millennials-make-them-feel-special#sthash.p5mhaO13.dpuf

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