Like the U.S. Marines, NAPSLO wants a few good men and women, too–to fill positions in the surplus lines industry.
If Steve Gross, chair of the Career Awareness Committee of the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices, Ltd., is successful in this endeavor, the industry will soon attract, and keep, a larger group of young people from various disciplines who’ll find satisfying careers in this $30 billion insurance niche.
The committee’s approach involves four new initiatives: campus recruiting, mounting a video, providing a job portal and building a young-professional community.
“Right now, we have about 65 volunteers recruiting at high schools, vocational schools and college campuses,” Mr. Gross said.
If each recruiter brings one or two people to the industry, there will be a steady influx of new talent, said Mr. Gross, who is also CEO of Metro Insurance Services in Springfield, N.J.
A recruitment kit developed by the committee and others will provide all the information most volunteers need to be successful, he said.
Recruiters will visit schools where they have contacts this fall and meet in a room with 20 or 30 young people to tell them about the various types of jobs available in the surplus lines industry–a field that seldom appears on a student’s radar.
These in-person sessions will allow them to tailor their messages to a particular group of students and to respond to individual questions.
“There’s been a general lack of effort within the insurance industry as a whole to make insurance jobs attractive,” said Mr. Gross.
“Unless they are already enrolled in an insurance course of study, this industry is not a top-10 catalyst encouraging students to go on to college. You don’t hear young people saying ‘I want to be an underwriter,’ or ‘I want to be a claims person.’
“But we’re trying to change that image, and other industry trade organizations are trying to do the same thing,” he said.
NAPSLO’s recruiting message centers on the phrase “putting your passion to work.”
That theme is central to an industry recruiting video posted on the NAPSLO Web site, and also on YouTube, the Internet video site especially popular with the under-30 crowd. Since its launch, the five-minute video has received more than 70 plays on NAPSLO’s Web site, but more than 800 plays on YouTube, according to Mike Ardis, director of communications at NAPSLO.
The video features members discussing the opportunities for personal challenge, travel and financial reward that they have found within the industry.
Though it is still very early, “we view it as successful,” Mr. Ardis said, noting that the video is part of the arsenal of tools available to the volunteer campus recruiters.
“We’re putting it on DVDs and CDs, showing it at meetings,” so it is getting heavy airing.
Another recent addition is the job portal, jobs.napslo.org, which was launched recently to bring job seekers and employers together. Mr. Gross expects it will grow as word gets out, especially for the December and June peak hiring times for college graduates. The portal, which is not limited to entry-level positions, is free for job posters and job seekers, though the committee may reevaluate that in the future.
According to Mr. Ardis, the job portal has had more than 60 jobs posted, 5,000 visitors and 31,000 page views since its March launch–numbers that satisfy him at this early stage but that also point up the need to further promote the portal “to get to the tipping point where everyone uses it.”
In mid-August, the portal had only a handful of jobs posted, which likely reflects a combination of a short job-listing period–it was set up to follow a pay-per-listing model, although currently there is no charge for job posters–and the seasonal lull. Mr. Ardis is extending posting time for jobs to see if that makes a difference.
The Career Awareness Committee, which was spun off last year from the Communications & Technology Committee, is charged not just with the task of attracting young people to various disciplines in the surplus lines industry, but with championing career advancement for younger NAPSLO members.
More than 200 young E&S professionals attended the Under Forty reception–its first event aimed at younder members, according to Event Co-chair Kristen Taylor.
Ms. Taylor, national marketing director at USG Insurance Services in Pittsburgh, happened onto insurance during a year-and-a-half marketing internship as a college business major.
“I hadn’t really thought about insurance prior to this, but it sounded like something I’d be interested in, mostly because it’s not a trends-based product. It’s legally required in most states and won’t go out of style, so there’s a lot of job security and opportunity to grow,” she said.
In 2006, when she’d finished college, returned home and applied for a national marketing coordinator position at USG, the broker was impressed with her insurance and marketing experience and waived the eight years of management experience they’d required. She now has a team of 10 people, including interns and young talent, and credits the insurance industry, especially the E&S sector, for providing exciting opportunities and responsibility not often available to someone so young.
See also related article, Recruiting Strategies Revealed.