Tips on Recruiting New Hires at Universities

By Denise Johnson | April 30, 2018

When it comes to recruiting at college campuses and offering internships, there’s much insurers can do to improve their game.

Lynn McChristian, professor and executive director of the Florida State University Center for Risk Management Education & Research, helmed a panel of two students and an insurance recruiter about attracting, developing and retaining young talent during the Property and Liability Resource Bureau (PLRB) national conference held in Orlando, Florida.

She explained that students enrolled in risk management programs are educated on the words and concepts of insurance, but that internships offer a deeper education on the technical aspects of it.

One hiring manager in the audience said he found it difficult to attract people to claims.

Labels, like underwriting, claims and sales can be limiting when attracting personnel to the industry.

“Your educators want to hear from you on how to sell your claims jobs better,” said McChristian.

Most students majoring in risk management and insurance have one or two job offers from insurers, she added, and noted there is a 99 percent placement rate.

Gina Perrotto, an associate recruiter with Amica Mutual Insurance Company, explained that she transitioned from a multiline adjuster position before moving into recruiting.

She said that the students she meets are “Very polished, prepared and engaged in conversation.”

Perrotto noted that Amica recruits across all majors, not just risk management and insurance. Students need to be shown how their major can fit within an insurance career, she added.

Tip 1: Make sure the campus is familiar with your company before recruiting begins.

“It’s really who you know,” according to McChristian.

For example, Amica offers presentations to risk management programs that can be used as educational material.

Another way to get involved, said McChristian, is to consider offering a speaker to the university to address timely events affecting the industry, like a cyber breach or weather catastrophe.

During exam time, one student explained how a company offers lunch boxes containing Red Bull and Pop Tarts with its company emblem on them.

Tip 2: A mentoring program is one way to build presence on campus and learn about the millennial mind.

McChristian said it’s as easy as contacting any university that has a risk management program to offer mentoring services.

Having a mentor throughout an internship can be invaluable, said one student.

Tip 3: Offer an internship.

“The student who has a successful internship is your advertisement,” said McChristian.

An FSU student set to graduate this year had an agency internship for eight weeks. It aided him in understanding a property/casualty contract class he’d recently taken. In addition, there were lunch and learns with contractors, and others involved within the industry. Looking back, his only regret was not seeing the carrier side, too.

His tips to insurers included ensuring transparency when speaking about employee retention rates and advocating a welcoming demeanor when visiting schools. He explained he avoided some companies based on the attitude of the visiting recruiter and resistance to accept resumes.

Perrotto emphasized the value of the initial conversation and connection with a recruiter. The applicant wants to be assured that the company they choose to work for will invest in them. A company needs to be excited about building those connections, she added.

Goal-oriented, McChristian said millennials need to know there is growth opportunity.

“If not a promotion or more money, it’s access to professional development,” said the FSU professor.

Offering out of state students with affordable housing options was another important factor in a successful internship program. McChristian cited an example of a catastrophe internship where the interns were housed in a local dorm.

One intern in the audience said his internship provided him with Associate in Claims classes.

Tip 4: Show off your company culture.

Interested in volunteering, one student liked that a firm allowed three hours a week to charity work of an employee’s choice.

Costume day, group workouts and team fun runs were a few examples mentioned during the session.

Students said that a strong company culture would largely make the difference in the event another company tried to poach them.

Tip 5: Consider sponsoring a student’s attendance to an industry conference.

McChristian said it gives students the opportunity to learn about ancillary services to the industry that they weren’t aware of.

Some other things potential interns and job applicants want, include learning how to attain designations and an opportunity to talk to someone working in the position they are interested in.

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