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The Rough Notes Company Inc.



November 18
09:02 2019

Insurance agencies need to find great employees to remain viable and grow. To get great hires, it might help to align your agency with what today’s workers expect. Are you prepared?


Understanding and resembling the ideal can speed up hiring and drive better results

By Michael Wayne

For several years, we have heard the sobering statistics about the lack of talent available to fill vital roles in the insurance industry. The need to find employees for positions of every type to remain viable and grow is definitely something the insurance industry faces alone, and while the national unemployment average is right around 4%, the unemployment rate for the insurance industry is about half that, at 2%.

To entice candidates, we have to know what they are looking for when it comes to working for an organization. We also have to make good on the conversations we are having.

A recent labor outlook study The Jacobson Group and Aon jointly conducted concluded that, while it takes nearly 97 days to fill an executive position in the industry, non-exempt positions take almost 50 days to fill. Filling positions at all levels is moderately difficult. In an earlier post, I explored the fact that agencies and others are looking to talent pools they never considered before and are exploring recruiting different demographics that may not have received as high of consideration in the past. The tactics for recruiting have evolved as well.

Where they are

While agencies and carriers are certainly using tried and true methods to reach potential candidates, and also leveraging new tools, like social media, they also are stepping up and increasing benefits. They’re offering more vacation time and higher financial compensation. When it comes to what in-person-engagement candidates find to be of greatest influence, a recent informal poll of a group I’m involved with provided some unscientific, but still interesting data. Feedback from approximately 50 insurance industry HR individuals ranked sources of in-person engagements (candidates they have interviewed) as follows:

  • Career Fairs
  • On-Campus Interviews
  • Information Sessions
  • Chapter/Club Meetings
  • Job Shadows
  • Classroom Visits
  • Alumni Events/Engagement
  • Case Competition/Hackathons

The sample size was small, but it does provide some understanding of where potential colleagues want to be approached. Now comes the even more difficult part of the hiring equation: answering the all-important question, “What do they want to hear?” Again, though not scientific, the same candidates offered up suggestions, which I’ll share in a moment.

What they want

To entice candidates, we have to know what they are looking for when it comes to working for an organization. We also have to make good on the conversations we are having. In other words, we either have to make certain that candidates know which aspects of their dream job we can fulfill immediately or we have to be willing to adapt our organizations to fit the needs of what prospective candidates are looking for when it comes to an employer.

Here are the Top 5 words or phrases that candidates used to describe their ideal job or company:

  • Training, Opportunity and Growth
  • Culture and Diversity
  • Balance Work and Life
  • Compensation
  • Innovative

For good measure, here are the next four that rounded out the top nine:

  • Philanthropy
  • Social and Fun
  • Challenging
  • Stability

What else matters

As a firm member of Generation X, with some Silent Generation and Baby Boomer characteristics, I fully admit that my top nine would not shake out the same way. For instance, “Stability” would not be nearly as low for me, and I would likely bump “Compensation” up a spot or two at least. Many of you reading this may feel the same way … but maybe not. Take a moment, either way, to re-read this list and think about how your organization seemingly ranks these words and phrases.

Even if this isn’t a scientific ranking, at the very least there are some nuggets of reality worth noting. Many of us likely need to step back and take stock of where we are as organizations and what we need to enhance or flat-out add if we want to compete for new blood.

How to proceed

That said, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Certainly, I am not advocating for agencies to uproot everything that got them where they are today. There are indeed opportunities for professionals of all sorts of backgrounds to play integral roles in our industry. There are opportunities for people with no connection whatsoever to the industry to step in and be successful.

Like other industries, our success is based on the success of our frontline salesforce. The backbone that props up those individuals—agency support colleagues—offers positions of various needs that must be filled. In some ways, I think we are on the leading edge of the Top 5. The greater issue at large? Perception of our industry.

The point where the insurance industry needs a rebrand is long past. Many of us who were not raised in the industry by family seem to explain that with our career path we, “fell into it.” In telling our story to others, it’s time we started proclaiming that, “I lucked into it and wished I had known about it sooner.”

The author

Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.

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