Dr. Bob’s Dos and Don’ts for Successful College Recruiting

By Robert P. Hartwig, PhD, CPCU 

As part of our Insurance Careers Month series, guest blogger Dr. Robert Hartwig gives us his best tips for successful college recruiting.



    1.  Articulate a Career Path

  • Students want to see opportunities for career advancement and that you’re planning to make an investment in them.
  • Suggestion: Include an experienced employee on recruiting trips (5-15 years of experience, though not necessarily all with the recruiting company), not just HR people.  Students can identify better with these individuals and experienced employees can share their personal experiences and career paths.  Students love this.

    2. Get an Early Start

  • With the unemployment rate hovering around 4 percent (2.6 percent for college graduates), the best students are getting jobs sooner and sooner.  Top students now have multiple strong offers in September of their senior year. By December, the “cream of the crop” has been recruited.
  • Get into classrooms!  Career fairs can be a zoo.  Getting into the classroom, usually when students are juniors and first-semester seniors can be very effective for recruitment of new grads as well as interns.

    3. Institute a Formal Training Program for New Hires

  • Students want to hit the ground running and a formal training program after hiring is one of the best ways to quickly acclimate new hires to their new work environment while also making them feel welcome and comfortable with their new duties as co-workers.

    4. Institute an Internship Program

  • Many employers today have internship programs, but not all.  An internship program—even if very small—gives you a leg up on recruiting and many of the top students accept positions with a company with whom they interned.

     5. Support RMI Education—Consistently

  • Students who major in RMI are already indicating an interest in an RMI career.
  • Support RMI programs and education through scholarships, internships, targeted contributions to a university’s RMI program, executive visits to classrooms, participation by industry executives in courses taught partly by faculty and partly by the executive (e.g., one week).  A larger step would include endowing a faculty chair or professorship dedicated to the study of RMI, which would then bear the name of that company.
  • Get to know a professor or two!  Nobody knows these students better.  This will give you an edge in recruiting new hires and interns.  This relationship can also help you get into classrooms when students are making key decisions related to careers and employers.


    1.  Don’t Fail to Recognize that Students Will Hedge Their Bets with RMI-Industry Recruiters

  • You’re not recruiting in a vacuum. Most business school students double major and will have had two internships.  In today’s tight job market, understand that you’re not just in competition with other insurers and brokers, you’re in competition with banks, investment banks, accounting and consulting firms, pension funds, investment advisory firms and increasingly technology firms—and many more.     

2. Don’t Pigeon Hole Students

  • Limiting entry level hires to a claims and underwriting track is costing you quality talent.  Consider more direct hiring into Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Data Analytics and other functions.  Exposing students to the core underwriting and claims functions is critical to learning the business, but if the student’s major (or second major or minor) was in another discipline, the attraction of a competing offer from a bank, investment firm, accounting firm or consulting firm may be too much to resist.  Help them apply and channel their skills, talents and interests while also training them in the “art” of insurance.

    3.  Don’t Be Parochial

  • An astounding number of insurers—even large ones—don’t look too far beyond their headquarters or primary bases of operation for talent.  This is true both for internships and entry level positions.  There is sometimes a bias to recruit at local universities (perhaps because it is easier and less expensive to do so) which can lead (inadvertently) to a bias against hiring quality talent from other institutions.


Dr. Robert Hartwig is special consultant to the Insurance Information Institute and is Clinical Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina.

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