Sometimes, I find some really interesting stuff on LinkedIn’s Premium Career Group, and sometimes, it may even be the punchline to a recruiting joke.

Here’s a recent (and amusing) example that I saw posted a few weeks ago. It’s a pretty good commentary —

Millennial Tip: Do you need experience with telephone interviews?

Post your resume on CareerBuilder. You will receive dozens of calls from Aflac, State Farm, and Farmer’s Insurance recruiters. They will offer you a low base salary (sometimes $0) and commissions. It makes for good practice!

Insurance companies, and everyone else, want Millennials

Some of the comments to this were as instructive as the post itself.

Here are a few that jumped out at me:

  • Great, great idea! I don’t turn down target practice either!”
  • “Its true. I already got a message from both Aflac and State Farm.
  • “I would say it’s practice on how to politely decline an interview, but not actual practice on how to interview for a non sales role.”
  • “I’m holding my sides in over here...”

One of the undercurrents to all this is how in demand Millennials are with insurance companies. Well, of course you say — Millennials are in demand pretty much everywhere today given that they’re not only young but also because they are the largest generation now in our workforce.

Old and getting older

Insurance companies have a particular problem they are trying to solve — their workforce is old and getting older. And, not only are they rapidly aging.  Research from The Allen James Companies, Inc. bears this out:

  • 50 percent of insurance professionals are retiring in the next 10-15 years.
  • 60 percent of insurance professionals are over the age of 45.
  • By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be Millennials, and the insurance industry need to start winning that talent now.

Last year, PwC’s top issues annual report had this telling comment, as reported in Insurance Journal:

Commercial insurers – like many other kinds of insurers – have an aging workforce and are facing an impending talent crunch. Automation cannot replace the qualitative judgment that is necessary for effective underwriting. Therefore, it is vital for insurers to develop a performance-driven culture that enables the recruitment, development, and retention of younger underwriting talent.”

A big industry problem to overcome

The authors of the PwC report also added this sobering comment:

Most U.S. employers are woefully unprepared for the business realities of an aging workforce and face a potentially massive loss of skilled, knowledgeable workers. Companies that effectively recruit, train and develop dedicated future staff and leaders will differentiate themselves and set themselves up for success into the future.”

Well, bombarding Millennials who post their resume on job boards (like CareerBuilder) with calls for interviews followed up by low-ball job offers isn’t a good way the attract the best and brightest. Yes, this IS the punchline to a really bad recruiting joke.

Plus, the insurance industry has a big problem and it’s hard to overcome. You know what it is — they’re boring, hardly sexy, and more closely identified with a Millennial worker’s grandparents or great-grandparents than with a career choice today.

Back in 2014, NPR’s Morning Edition had a segment titled Insurance Industry Is Hiring, But Millennials Don’t Seem to Be Interested.  During the segment, one of the hosts pointed out that, “The industry’s problem is that Millennials don’t even consider insurance as a potential career. Many think of it as boring or don’t know much about it.”

They also pointed out that, according to one industry survey, just 4 percent of Millennials interviewed were interested in insurance is a career.

More than a recruiting joke

So, what is an old and boring industry to do if they want to become younger, more relevant and seen as an attractive career choice for up-and-coming young workers? One idea from an industry executive is to pitch Millennials on developing a “focused specialty” where they can quickly become experts in a niche area because, “Once they develop that expertise, they will have job security for life because there is always a need for specialists.”

That’s one good way to do it, but there are probably a lot more approaches that are targeted and that can appeal to the Millennial need to have a good career path AND an ability to make a difference.

Unfortunately, the approach that some big insurers are taking (and as lampooned on the LinkedIn Premium Career Group) is EXACTLY the wrong way to win friends and influence young Millennials.

No, it’s really more of the punchline to a recruiting joke than a serious and thoughtful recruiting strategy. I wonder how long it will take companies like Aflac, State Farm, and Farmer’s Insurance to figure that out.

John Hollon

John Hollon is managing editor at Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. You can download the research reports in their Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Research series at Fuel50.