Engaging Job Applicants in a Multi-Generational Talent Pool

By Denise Johnson | April 4, 2016

As a shift in workplace demographics takes hold within the insurance industry, new employment recruitment strategies are being embraced.

In the past, jobs were obtained either through word of mouth or by answering a classified ad in the newspaper. These days, there are a variety of platforms to advertise job positions and candidates to fill them. A one size fits all approach, when it comes to talent recruitment, no longer works.

“Recruiting top talent, in general, is probably as much an art as it is…science,” said Dave Coons, senior vice president at The Jacobson Group. “In my years of experience, I will tell you that I’ve never found two positions or clients to be exactly the same. It’s really incumbent upon us to treat each one as a unique event.”

He said that today, recruiting insurance talent requires a deep knowledge and appreciation of some of the new challenges facing the industry.

“For example, we have exceptionally low unemployment in the insurance industry, and unprecedented rate of retirement, and fierce competition for emerging talent,” Coons said. “For those reasons, personally, I feel like a deep network of professional connections is what it’s going to take to survive. The candidate landscape today is very decidedly passive. Simply sourcing resumes just isn’t enough to get the job done. We’re all chasing a rapidly shrinking talent pool of candidates.”

In addition, the insurance industry is seeing up to five generations in the workplace today, said Erin Hendrick, talent search leader at Progressive Insurance.Diversity Business People Coorporate Team Community Concept

“That just adds to the differences from the past, whereas you had like two or three generations at a time. That diversity, thought and experience that’s brought in,” Hendrick said.

A white paper published by The RightThing, LLC, an ADP Company and global provider of cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM), highlights employee recruitment best practices and discusses multigenerational employee recruitment.

According to the white paper, recruiting new employees requires a company’s human resources department to understand every generation in the talent pool.

The ADP report identifies four generations in the workforce, “each has its own characteristics, experiences, and expectations, invalidating a one-size-fits-all communications approach to recruiting”:

  1. Silents/Traditionalists (born between 1925 and 1942)
  2. Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1960)
  3. Generation Xers (born between 1961 and 1981)
  4. Millennials (born between 1982 and 2004)

In order to connect with multi-generational job applicants, the white paper recommends brand messaging utilizing every channel of communication a company has, from its career website and social media channels to one-on-one communication.

Insurers should look to their own career website to start, said Coons.

“I’m always a little bit surprised by the fact that a lot of companies don’t really start with leveraging their own employer brand. Many candidates actually come to them, either solicited or unsolicited, by submitting their resumes or a letter of interest to their career websites,” Coons said. “Those in and of themselves are just a treasure of talent. I feel like, and I oftentimes tell my clients, that they should look to their own career website as the first place to source talent and a mix of talent.”

Progressive, a company with 28,000 employees, does tie in recruiting with its brand.

“When we think of recruiting, it’s so inextricably tied to our brand,” Hendrick said. “We look at it from an employment brand perspective. When I say employment brand, it’s really how we market and position the company overall as a great place to work to the job seeker.”

Progressive’s employment brand is the “Love What You Do” campaign.

“If you go to Progressive.com/jobs, you’ll see Flo. You’ll see a lot of the iconography that you might see on our consumer ads on TV,” Hendrick said. “In thinking about our employment brand, it’s how do we ladder that up to what consumers see every day in a way that’s consistent and also is true to the employee value proposition, and our promise to our employees. We always want to make sure that the promise that we make to the job seeker and the candidate is also going to match with what we deliver in terms of an employee experience. It’s all rooted in our core values.”

Passive candidates – those not actively looking for a job – require sophisticated sourcing.

The white paper recommends creating a talent community which, through various forms of social media, can freely exchange ideas and information about a variety of employment-related topics. According to the paper’s authors, “While hiring results from talent community engagements can take years, chances are a new hire emerging from a talent community that your organization establishes will arrive with great insight into your organization.”

Long term engagement is key.

“Just from a recruitment standpoint, we really try to engage with people even when they’re not looking for a job. That’s a place where we stand out and we really try to prioritize it,” Hendrick said. “Engaging with people who are maybe not necessarily looking for a job today, but may have the skills and the attributes of a prospective employee that we want to talk to over the course of months, years even.”

Trust is paramount to participation within the talent communities, said Coons.

“Those that are willing to engage are only going to do so with those they know. They certainly aren’t going to share referrals with those that they don’t trust,” he said. “We have to use all of the tools, technologies and networks, both virtual and literal, that are at our disposal, so that we can interact with this type of talent.”

Besides an employer’s own website, there are numerous job listing websites.

“There are so many more platforms now that are at the job seekers hands,” said Hendrick. “It makes it competitive, but it also levels the playing field for the job seeker because they have so many ways to reach us. And, it’s really vice versa, we have so many ways to reach and connect with them. And we love it because it gives us that direct access to talent, and also a feedback mechanism.”

Social media is another good job seeking medium.

“When you think of all the places where folks can review companies, not only their interview experience but also their employment experience, social media makes that all happen. It’s that two-way connection,” she said.

While much engagement of new talent occurs digitally, community involvement is an important aspect to incoming employees.

“That’s a big piece of it as well,” Hendrick added. “It’s not just about posting a job, that post and pray, but really trying to put down roots in our community, especially in our bigger locations, so that our communities know that we’re a piece of them and we’re a piece of the community at large.”

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