Talent Attraction Techniques for Unpopular Industries

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Unpopular Industry Recruitment - Challenges

Several industries that are considered to be "unpopular," and which struggle to attract top talent are insurance, the federal government, and pharmaceuticals.





As part of this analysis, an extensive review of trusted media sources, industry reports, and articles published by authorities and key players in the insurance, federal government, and pharmaceuticals industries was conducted. Unfortunately, data sources which substantiated the unpopularity of the insurance industry with more detailed information were limited. However, a 2015 survey by the insurance company The Hartford was located and clearly substantiated the unpopularity of the insurance industry as a career path. By assuming that a 2015 survey would be indicative of current sentiment, we were able to also substantiate the unpopularity of the insurance industry for the purpose of this analysis.

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Unpopular Industry Recruitment - Best Practices

Two best practices used by unpopular industries like insurance, federal government organizations, and pharmaceuticals to attract top talent are the use of commercial job boards and employer brand through benefits. The case study by the US company Organizational Performance Consulting, is an example of how an insurance company used ATS technology, internships, standardization, and an employee referral program to attract more and better candidates.


  • As a global insurance company integrating recently acquired companies under the brand, they faced different issues in their recruiting process.
  • Not all the executive teams had a mindset focused on attracting top talent, which affected the selection process and made it more difficult for new members to adapt to the company's standards.
  • The model used to acquire talent lacked quality standards, efficiency, and optimization.
  • The insurance firm was using different applicant tracking systems (ATS). Two of them were used by the legacy company, while four more were used by the newly acquired companies to select, identify, and onboard new employees.
  • OPC designed a plan that would guarantee the acquisition of top talent that aligns better with the company and makes the hiring process easier.
  • The staffing process was mapped and standardized, from the sourcing to the onboarding stage, across all subsidiaries.
  • They also redefined the responsibilities and roles the HR staff had in supporting talent acquisition and developed a detailed talent acquisition guide for the hiring managers and HR team.
  • OPC designed reports and identified what would be considered a successful metric in terms of quality, quantity, and operation.
  • They helped the insurance company to create forecasts of the company's staffing needs and processes that would help the HR team or hiring managers do it in the future.
  • To guarantee they were hiring top talent, they created pre-employment assessments for the positions with a high number of applicants.
  • The company also created an integrated branding strategy to show unity across all employees and launched a new employee referral program.
  • To attract top talent from new workers in the market, they created an intern program to recruit from colleges, positioning the option to build an early career.
  • OPC implemented a new ATS across the entire company and satisfaction surveys for the hiring manager, newly hired employees, and candidates.
  • Finally, they renegotiated contracts for their recruiting partners, job boards, and new background checks.
  • After the first year with the new talent acquisition process, OPC and the insurance firm perceived an increase of 14% in employee referrals, which exceeded their expectations by 5%, reduced sourcing costs and more engagement from the new employees.
  • Reduced the recruiting fees by $350,000 and saved $100,000 in recruiting costs thanks to the new contracts and processes to select the top talent.
  • The new ATS was implemented without affecting the budget, reducing the cost of having many tools, and helping them get the best candidates, hiring experience, and access to hiring metrics.
  • They are now able to make staffing decisions based on the information available in dashboards and metrics.
  • Lastly, the standardized process was adopted in other areas of HR and IT across the organization.


  • In the job market today, candidates search for job opportunities online like a shopping process.
  • Top talent candidates are often reviewing new job opportunities in job boards, social media, or career sites from employers.
  • The study made by Market Connections and Monster, named Government Recruitment & Retention, demonstrated that most HR professionals that work for private companies use social media and digital platforms to recruit, while federal government HR professionals don't.
  • 35% of federal government organizations are using commercial job boards and social media to recruit talent.
  • 75% of federal agencies still use USAJOBS as the main platform to promote job opportunities, losing many potential skilled candidates.
  • 80% of private sector companies post job opportunities on commercial job boards and 66% on social media, increasing the pool of high-skilled applicants.
  • Federal government organizations can also make use of digital platforms to attract the right people to their vacancies and have a larger number of applicants to select the best candidate.
  • Federal organizations like the US Department of Defense, National Security Agency, US Department of Labor, Texas Department of Transportation, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, are already implementing this practice, promoting their job opportunities in boards like Indeed and garnering more than 4,884 reviews in their job vacancies.
  • While the US Department of Defense is yet to provide the complete hiring metrics results for 2019, since implementing their new actions to make their recruitment process better, they have reduced the hiring time from 100 to 85 days, and expect an increase in the pool of candidates.
  • The pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, uses boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, and direct job applications sites to attract candidates. Then, they use these applications to ensure they have the top talent by processing candidates who score above 90% in the required skills.


  • One best practice to attract top talent in the pharmaceutical industry is offering benefits that compete in the job market and creating a brand of happy and healthy employees.
  • Schedule flexibility, training, development, parental assistance, healthcare coverage, and on-site services/perks are some benefits that unpopular industries can use to attract talent.
  • The benefits, perks, and support given to the employees are a great part of the culture and brand that the company presents to potential employees.
  • Johnson & Johnson and Energy for Performance in Life offer healthcare and wellness programs to attract talent.
  • Novartis and Horizon Pharma offer schedule flexibility through programs like "summer hours" that allows employees to leave earlier on Fridays.
  • AbbVie offers tuition reimbursement of $7,000, Novartis has a program for educational assistance, and Teva has programs for career management and professional growth.
  • Merck offers on-site healthcare professionals, GlaxoSmithKline has coffee stands, classes, gyms, and on-site perks, and Horizon Pharma has a massage therapist for its employees.
  • Pharmaceutical companies, like Johnson and Johnson, attract around 1 million applicants every year and create over 25,000 job openings thanks to their talent acquisition process and the highlight given to the company's benefits compared with other companies.


To determine the three best practices or cases studies used by unpopular industries that are successfully attracting top talent in the US, we began by defining the unpopular industries. As identified in the previous part, our industries of focus are insurance, federal government organizations, and pharmaceuticals.

To make sure we covered all the industries of focus, we decided to dedicate one case study/best practice to each one of them. For the insurance company, we found a case study presented by the consulting company OCP in 2018, where it is explained how the successfully implemented the use of a universal ATS system and standardized to make the hiring process better, then used the ATS, internship programs, and employee referral programs to increase the number of candidates while guaranteeing the top talent.

For the federal government, we found different best practices they used to recruit top talent, we included the one that was repeated more often across different sources, the use of commercial job boards. We learned that one of the main issues that affect these organizations when attracting top talent is that they only post vacancies in the USAJOBS site, limiting the number of skilled-candidates who see their jobs. Multiple federal agencies, like the US Department of Defense, are already using commercial job boards to successfully increasing the pool of applicants, having more options to select the top talent, and reducing the hiring time.

Finally, we found that the pharmaceutical companies that are successfully attracting top talent are making use of their benefits and employer brand to compete in the job market and become more appealing to the best candidates. We also confirmed that they also follow the best practice from the federal government organizations, making use of job boards to increase their pool of candidates and select the top talent.

From the three best practices /case studies requested, we provided two best practices and one case study for the unpopular industries.