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Managing Principals by Julia Kramer Back to the Future

When it’s difficult to recruit and retain top talent, change how you conduct the business of staffing.

By  Julia Kramer

Are you losing sleep due to your firm’s persistent, uninspired and ultimately unproductive efforts to hire and retain seasoned, savvy and successful professionals? Does your firm tirelessly seek, but can’t recruit, those bright individuals able to hit the ground running and show almost immediate positive results? Join the crowd. It’s an industry epidemic.

Many firms with positions to fill—both sales and non-sales—are in the same boat as you. All are looking for a lifeline. Let me throw you one. But first, acknowledge that the industry’s labor pool of experienced professionals is at best limited and at worst diminishing. Next, realize that clever firms are going back to basics to achieve the staffing future they envision. You can do the same. Instead of seeking the relatively few (and therefore competitively courted) mid-career individuals looking for a new position, turn back the clock and pursue those just starting out. It won’t necessarily be easy. You’ll need to change your hiring processes, tap into new recruitment sources, increase your marketing efforts, set up training programs and focus on developing long-term relationships. But if it is done correctly, this work will result in your very own, pre-trained, eager-to-get-started, unlimited labor pool.

Changing the way you recruit, by making connections early to groom students for future professional positions, may seem daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Help is here. In direct response to strong, member-firm feedback that staffing and human capital issues are primary concerns now and for the foreseeable future, in late 2006 The Council commissioned the development of an industry-specific manual to offer guidance to firms that are interested in tapping into new and unlimited recruitment resources. Specifically, the manual addresses the why, the how and the where of recruiting, training and hiring the vast number of eager, educated and emerging pre-professionals at the nation’s colleges and universities.

The 2008 Guide to Developing and Implementing an Effective Intern Program is hot off the presses and ready for full distribution this month. Member firms that attended the Employee Benefits Leadership Forum in May received an advance copy of the manual and the opportunity to attend an Executive Forum session on the program and program implementation. Your firm’s copy of the guide may already have arrived, and our Web-based version is now online for easy reference at www.ciab.com.

The guide is both a comprehensive learning tool and an implementation manual. It helps you think through the benefits of an intern program—the benefits to you as the employer, as well as benefits to the intern, to the learning institution and to the future of our industry. The guide contains step-by-step processes to achieve the results you desire, including conducting a needs analysis and developing internship goals and objectives, compensation and pay structure, and program cost considerations. Implementation guidelines include details on intern sourcing and recruitment, collaborating with universities, marketing your firm and your intern position, interviewing and selecting the right candidate.

The guide is a full-spectrum program that doesn’t stop with the hire. It leads you through intern job and organization orientation, managing the young intern, and evaluating the success of the internship as it relates to increased hiring and retention. It offers guidance on maintaining contact and re-engaging exceptional interns.

Forms and templates are also included, such as sample intern job descriptions and college-ready job postings, an orientation checklist and training schedule, and intern evaluation forms. The Resources section contains additional supportive information. A listing of select colleges and universities with risk management and insurance majors; the contact information, job posting sites and links to those schools; sample rates of pay; and online recruitment resources are included.

The increasing difficulty in industry recruiting and hiring, the challenges of retaining key employees in a highly competitive environment, and the associated needs to expand our labor pool and get the word out that our industry offers both challenging and lucrative career options necessitate a change in how we conduct the business of staffing. Go back to basics to ensure a profitable future with The Council’s 2008 Guide to Developing and Implementing an Effective Intern Program. For more information and support, contact me.

Kramer, an HR consultant, is a contributing writer.
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