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Reaching Out for Diversity

MetLife finds competitive recruiting for information technology positions requires shifting from only catering to the active jobseeker to also courting the passive prospect.

Insurance companies are pulling out all the stops when it comes to recruiting IT help. In fact, some carriers are starting passive recruitment efforts years before they intend to hire prospects.

Facing a large audience of 10- to 15-year-old girls, Peggy Fechtmann, chief information officer, client services group, MetLife ($424.4 billion in assets under management, New York), recently concluded her remarks saying, "We hope when you leave high school you consider joining MetLife."

The event, held in observance of the annual Ms. Foundation-sponsored "Take Our Daughters To Work Day," was dedicated to recognizing young women's "ability to meet the information technology (IT) divide between men and women in the work force," according to MetLife. And while the attendees were not of hiring age, Fechtmann says, the event represented a larger strategy of getting a message out to potential employees who may not be looking to work in the IT department of an insurance company.

We Want You!

As long as IT employment remains a seller's market, Fechtmann says, prospective hires of whatever background will need to be persuaded that the insurance industry is a viable destination for their IT career ambitions. Facing the challenge of recruiting for a diverse workforce is even greater, she says. Even at a carrier such as MetLife where, "diversity is in our DNA," Fechtmann adds, "we have to ask 'How do we make sure we catch a broader audience, and how do we communicate that having an inclusive environment is part of our core values?'"

Successful recruitment will depend as much on the medium as the message, according to Roger Taylor, MetLife's vice president for talent sourcing, who says MetLife is shifting its recruitment tactics, from the traditional approach of wooing "active" jobseekers, to include courting the "passive" employer prospect, which he says makes up 60 percent of potential hires.

Taylor says MetLife is in the process of constructing an Internet-based recruitment system that will help the firm focus on potential employees who are not actively seeking a job and to target diversity sites through an agreement with (Maynard, MA). "We chose Monster because they sponsor 22 sites across the whole spectrum of the diversity definition," he says. "Individuals who log on to that site will see our job as if it were posted there."

Passive Recruiting

But those individuals will not need to be looking for a job in order to connect with MetLife. The strategy is to post articles in the career sections of affiliation sites, which will provide a less aggressive way of making contact. "An IT person may go to the Web and surf for different sites, but may not want to seek out specific job openings. But if they have the ability to just scroll down a few lines to say 'I'm looking for this kind of job, let me know if it becomes open,' then they might make a contact that otherwise wouldn't have happened," Taylor says.

"The idea is to capture their interest, to get them to look, even though they're not actively looking for a job," Taylor continues. "First you bring them to your Web page, and then they start getting interested." Managers seeking to hire will likewise be able to post speculative ads, querying for individuals interested in a position description, Taylor adds.

Fechtmann comments that this model allows for seeking hires that might be missed by insisting on a "pigeon hole" definition of a job. Given the broader use of technology in today's business environment, she explains, "I'm looking for a different kind of IT professional than in the past; I'm tapping in, not to a particular competency or skill set, but to the aspirational qualities that a potential hire might want to bring to their next job."

The system—which is planned for launch by year's end—will be integrated with the carrier'sexisting Careers In Motion internal recruitment system, which Fechtmann describes as a less-threatening alternative to the traditional means of posting job openings on bulletin boards in uncomfortably public areas. Careers In Motion enables managers to post and employees to search the company intranet for jobs throughout MetLife's nationwide operations. When the integration is complete, jobs will automatically be posted to affiliated sites.

MetLife is currently approaching other Monster-like companies to access further affiliation sites, according to Taylor. "We want to have the largest scope of diversity out-reach possible," he says.

Fechtmann says that at one time even her own case—a woman joining MetLife mid-career, as she did four years ago—would have been an anomaly. That is not the case anymore, she asserts, adding that the carrier is agressively sending that message to potential hires. "We're opening our doors to include people of all looks and types, and approaching them as they're beginning to think about their carreers," she says.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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