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For a generation weaned on instant messaging, VR apps and social video, actuarial science can be a tough sell. But among 2021 jobseekers, as well as the carriers who wish to employ them, it can be surprising to learn that insurance offers precisely the kind of career Generation Z candidates aspire to—even if neither side is quite aware of it.
There is no doubt that the Silicon Valley siren song is still reaching the first IT graduates from Generation Z. A 2019 study from Glassdoor shows that for young graduates who aspire to work in tech, IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Deloitte are the top five companies to which they apply.
Yet the mind of Gen Z jobseekers has also been profoundly impacted by troubling global events for nearly all their young lives. From 9/11 and the 2008 economic crisis to racial strife and the COVID-19 pandemic, this generation has grown up in a world that is continually shifting beneath their feet. HireVue reports that the number one characteristic Gen Z job hunters value most from a prospective employer is stability and security—something that employers can focus on in their marketing to entry level employees.
Even in a tight labor market, IT departments at insurance carriers can successfully compete for the best and brightest from Gen Z. Here’s what to emphasize:
- Insurance is more interesting than Gen Zers think. Technology has overtaken virtually every aspect of insurance, making it fertile ground for tech graduates. Digital tools are eliminating repetitive tasks and enabling insurance workers to use their higher-level skills to analyze and interpret client needs. Newcomers should know that they will be working with cloud-enabled systems, data analytics, marketing platforms, mobile apps and mobile-responsive websites, among other cutting-edge technologies.
- Hands-on experience. AI/ML is hot, and insurance has it. AI-driven predictive tools are being used in all sectors to accurately determine coverage recommendations, automate personalized client experiences, and even foretell which customers are considering dropping policies. Candidates with data analytics and AI/ML training will be needed to develop and manage such systems and will acquire highly desired experience in the process.
- Work/life balance. Here is where things get interesting for candidates. As a cohort, Generation Z wants flexibility in its work life. Yello, a talent acquisition service provider, reports that work/life balance is the second most important factor Gen Zers consider before accepting a job, right after salary.
Most companies are not moving to a full remote workforce. The ability to work remotely at least parttime, either by preference or for present/future family reasons, is still a major plus and addresses this need for flexibility. Most carriers can support this; in a recent survey of over 1,000 insurance professionals, 70 percent of respondents agreed that their workplaces already have the tools in place to work effectively from home.
Insurance is embracing diversity. Many companies in the insurance segment, along with industry institutions like the National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance (NAAWI), are investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives to hire and retain women and young talent from diverse backgrounds including communities of color and the LGBTQ community. Carriers that embrace and commit to workplace diversity programs will stand a much better chance of attracting Gen Z graduates in large numbers.
Insurance is stable. As the research makes clear, this aspect is of utmost importance to Gen Z. In times of economic hardship, insurance is often a key pillar of recovery and resilience. Moreover, compared to other industries, insurance weathered the pandemic storm and is emerging stronger and even more focused. Recent graduates should be told that the insurance industry can survive historic challenges.
Tallo, a Gen Z talent development organization, reports in its April 2021 industry rankings that among Gen Z, the insurance business is placed securely in the middle for favorability above seemingly more progressive and/or lucrative industries like renewable energy, real estate and consulting services.
In many fields, career dissatisfaction increases with age; not so, however, in insurance. In the aforementioned survey, 90 percent of insurance professionals over the age of 40 said they would recommend a career in insurance. This is highly unique—and a marketable plus for IT positions in the industry.
Changing perceptions among Gen Z talent, however, will take initiative. Scholarships, internships, fellowships and the like will allow those still in school to test drive the profession. Participation at career fairs, along with the use of job board software and social media, will help establish dialogue with seekers and instill new perspectives.
Insurance IT recruiters, tech executives and HR pros should take heart that the insurance industry has a remarkably good chance of landing strong, well-trained Gen Z graduates. It’s not an issue, however, that favors inaction. Being proactive in changing perceptions isn’t easy—but for an industry that knows all about risk, the biggest risk to attracting Gen Z will be to do nothing.