Can’t teach an old ish (still clinging to the ‘mid thirties’ title, but closer to 40 than 35…) dog new tricks? Well, I was taught a thing or two recently by a generation my weekend papers call, ‘Millennials’; a generation often derided as work shy, entitled and self-obsessed.
A key client of mine asked me to work on a new national recruitment assignment; multiple Trainee Corporate Development/ Account Executives. Whilst, like any savvy employer, they welcomed applications from candidates of all ages and backgrounds, it was clear to me that this role would have the greatest pull with newer entrants to the industry.
Whilst it’s always nice to be asked to represent a global broker (and I have a lot of time for the HR Manager who appointed me so I was genuinely delighted to accept the brief), I must confess that I was perhaps initially a little prejudiced. I’m actually embarrassed that I’d taken popular culture’s caricatured version of Millennials at face value. Would I be inundated by selfie taking hoards, brought up under the illusion that the world owed them a living?
As expected, interest in the role has been ‘through the roof’ from all quarters. This much I did expect; my client is a big name, offering structured corporate development, both formal and professional qualifications, and a salary that was so good I had to call the HR Manager back to double check (honestly!) I’ve had applications from school leavers, through to seasoned veterans of the industry wishing to move into a more corporate/ global broking environment. Needless to say, all applications are judged on their own merit with age playing no part in my vetting processes.
What has been a pleasant surprise is the quality of the applications from candidates who fall into the ‘Millennials’ category. On the whole, these candidates have between 1-3 years’ experience, and a nicer bunch you couldn’t hope to meet. They come from a wide range of backgrounds - some uni grads currently on composite insurers’ training academies, and others cutting their teeth working for regional brokers, learning their trade on the shop floor.
It’s a tough job market out there, and it is clear that these Millennials know it. Each one recognised immediately that this is a life-changing opportunity, and have really gone to town with their applications; superb covering letters produced promptly upon request, intelligent questions posed that demonstrated they have been thinking about their application, readily accepting the prospect of a 5am train headed ‘down South’ to attend assessments (fortunately, my HR Manager sorted out hotels for them – I said she was good!). Every test of commitment passed with the minimum of fuss and maximum of gratitude on the candidates’ part.
This eye-opening experience goes beyond the interview process. The younger members of our insurance community seem genuinely passionate about the industry, recognising the need for continued professional development, the promotion of diversity and inclusion, and a hunger for knowledge and experience.
In an age when the business press is increasingly talking about the increased automation within insurance, I’m delighted to have been given this insight into the industry. I have every confidence that with a generation coming through the ranks, who possess skills, attitudes and enthusiasm like this, insurance will never lose its human touch.