’We are just trying to show off insurance as a career option,’ says business graduate

Coined in 1997 by consultancy firm McKinsey, the term ‘war for talent’ remains as relevant for the insurance industry today as it was back then.

In the current battle for talent in the insurance sector however, the focus has shifted to the emerging workforce.

Generation Z – also known as Gen Z – has been defined by the Oxford Dictionary as those “individuals born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s, recognised for their extensive familiarity with the internet”.

Attracting talent to the insurance sector has been a persistent worry for businesses, with what seems like the majority of insurance professionals acknowledging that they ‘fell’ into their current careers, rather than proactively choosing to pursue roles in the industry.

This has presented a challenge for recruiters, who are now actively seeking effective strategies to attract the next generation.

Michelle Ransome, talent acquisition manager at Zurich, explained to Insurance Times: ”The insurance industry is not the first choice for our younger generation when it comes to a career because their introduction to it is not particularly attractive.

“For instance, they are often advised to obtain travel insurance in case of injuries while on holiday.”

However, she noted that “social media” could be the “key” to attracting Gen Z talent to the industry.

Tik Tok for the sector

Ransome explained that leveraging social media platforms such as TikTok could enable the sharing of information about the insurance industry that could positively reshape the perception of the sector among the younger generation.

TikTok is a social media app prominently used by Gen Z that enables users to create, watch and share short video clips.

In appealing to the generation most associated with internet familiarity, insurer Zurich has created its own TikTok accounts, called Life of a Grad and Apprentice Life.

Life of a Grad, created earlier this year in June, is managed by Megan Jenkins and Felicity Irvine, two business management graduates at Zurich.

Meanwhile, Apprentice Life, established in January, is currently overseen by Safa Saeed, a claims handler and level three insurance practitioner apprentice, along with Libby Llufrio-Maguire, a claims handler, and Bailey Brasted, an operations degree apprentice.

Jenkins explained that, “from a Gen Z perspective,” the predominant use of TikTok in social media consumption for this segment of the population was the driving factor behind the platform selection.

Jenkins and Saeed further explained that they were motivated to create the TikTok accounts due to the misperceptions surrounding the insurance industry from external perspectives. In these external views, individuals lacked a comprehensive understanding of the sector and harboured stereotypes about it, they said.

For instance, Jenkins explained that people in her personal circle often associated the insurance industry with car insurance, despite the fact that her professional focus is different.

The stereotype surrounding the insurance sector became more apparent to Jenkins and Saeed when a comment on one of their videos raised the question: “Isn’t insurance an old boys’ club?”

Therefore, aiming to “challenge [the] stereotypes associated with the industry,” Jenkins and Saeed decided to showcase their own career journeys, offering insights into their everyday working life.

“We are just trying to show off insurance as a career option,” said Jenkins.

Knowledge gap

Florence Dennis, lead client advisor at broker Partners& and chairwoman of the East Midlands Biba committee, echoed the sentiments of Jenkins and Saeed, noting that the insurance industry was often “perceived in a negative light” because there existed a “knowledge gap” when it came to considering the insurance industry as a career choice.

Dennis’ comments followed the launch of the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) New Generation Programme’s Insurance Influencer campaign earlier this year (25 October 2023).

The initiative aimed to address the industry’s talent gap, featuring a video and digital flyer designed to guide the younger generation into considering a career in insurance.

The campaign was launched in response to a CII survey which revealed that 60% of participants found the insurance industry “boring” and only 30% would consider it as a career.

The findings were based on a survey of 50 participants between the ages of 14-22 in April 2023.

Dennis highlighted that a “knowledge gap” was identified during a focus group with graduates, indicating that school leavers were not adequately informed about the insurance industry as a career option.

Therefore, the group wanted to “raise the profile” of the insurance industry as a career option and dispel “the negative light the insurance light is perceived in.”

The CII explained that the goal was to convey the message that the insurance industry offered diverse career opportunities and was far from boring.

In an effort to engage a young audience, the CII also created a short video for platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, as the group wanted to take the campaign “further than LinkedIn”.

Dennis added: “The CII recognised that not all school leavers use LinkedIn.”

She explained that most school leavers were on Tik Tok and that this could be used as a potential way to advertise a job as the social media platform had become a “data base of reviews” for Gen Z.

Best of both

However, Jenkins explained that LinkedIn and Tik Tok “provide benefits” that complement one another.

For instance, she noted that LinkedIn is “fantastic when you know [specifically] what you are searching for” and can be used to build a professional portfolio, which cannot be achieved on TikTok.

Ransome added: “LinkedIn also serves as a tool for [recruiters] in the context of apprenticeships, as it connects them with parents who wield influence. This enables [the recruiter] to [garner] support from parents in guiding their children through crucial decisions related to their career choices or furthering their education.”

On the other hand, TikTok offers a marketing advantage, allowing insurance companies to convey a message to a broad audience and achieve a wide reach, given that a significant portion of Gen Z are active on TikTok.

Saeed further highlighted that “on TikTok, [the explore page] is moulded into what the user is interested in”.

This is because the platform’s algorithms predicts the videos individuals would like to see based on their interests.

For example, if someone has searched for insurance graduate schemes or apprenticeships, TikTok will automatically show related videos.

“Tik Tok and LinkedIn both play a role in social media being the key to attract the younger generation,” added Ransome.