By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
Insurance carriers and brokers, link up, tune in and face it: there's a new generation of talent out there waiting to be tapped, and young college grads are not waiting for you to set up your booths on college recruitment day.
Carriers and brokers, go out and get yourselves a Facebook page, a LinkedIn site, and a YouTube feed. If you want to reach young management-track graduates most likely to be running your companies tomorrow, that's the way you're going to reach them, and how they are going to want to reach you.
Yes, there's risk in setting up social networking sites. The brightest college stars, those human resources had hoped would develop into a potential CEO, may have skeletons ugly enough to warrant rescinding a job offer.
There will be cases when jealous peers of young insurance and risk management hopefuls post compromising images of spite and revenge online in a nasty attempt to derail budding careers.
But these incidents are likely to be very few and far between. And, who knows, it will also give employers a chance to ask their would-be hires about it, and give them a chance to respond and explain themselves. Catching a prospective candidate by surprise is an opportunity for him or her to react quickly, to demonstrate a little quick-thinking, to adapt to an impromptu situation.
In the end, it's always better for the employer and the employee to come clean with facts before extending and accepting a job offer. Embarrassing college pranks that go a little too far ought to galvanize job candidates to clean up their act ... and their Facebook pages.
And, don't forget, social networking exchanges work both ways. A little sleuthing and surfing may turn up some minor corporate fiascos beyond public filings of carriers and brokers. All the better, I say, in the name of transparency.
For the moment, the courts have not ruled on cases involving disputes between potential employers and prospective employees suing for damages because they were denied a job by prospective insurance industry employers in the wake of malicious information posted on social networking sites.
Those decisions will come soon enough. When they do, industry employers will have more guidance on the scope of their reach with regard to employment protocol and the use of information gleaned through Internet-based social networks.
Until then, however, it's time for companies to move beyond their cloistered corporate networks and participate in the broader reach of social networks connecting hundreds of millions of people.
Consider the numbers: More than 500 million people on Facebook, more than 40 million on LinkedIn.
Given those huge numbers, one, two or three disputes involving networking sites is a tiny fraction of the number of people registered on these very sites. It's well worth it for employers to link up and tune in.
There are encouraging signs. A few major carriers have made forays into the social networking arena, and there was a lot of buzz about using social networking sites at the annual conference of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. in Boston last April. May other companies in the industry follow their lead, for it can only benefit carriers who already are going to find themselves with a shortage of skilled talent as the Baby Boom retires.
(Read Contributor Steve Tuckey's Counter, "Why Employers Need to Link Out of Social Networking")
October 1, 2010
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