Today’s Candidate Expectations and How to Compete

By | February 21, 2022

The recruiting climate has undergone numerous shifts in just two years. From nearing a complete halt in early 2020 to the Great Reshuffle we’re now experiencing, insurance organizations have had to adjust how they approach recruiting to stay competitive. Now, as organizations act on their 2022 talent plans, it’s important for hiring managers and recruiters to consider how their open roles and recruiting tactics will stand up against the larger talent landscape.

Candidate expectations are continuing to evolve, in some cases seeming almost unrealistic. However, top talent is being pursued even more aggressively than in the past, giving professionals the opportunity to increase their asks and take advantage of competing offers, including counter offers from their current employers.

At its essence, there’s a higher demand for talent than there is supply. More seasoned employees are retiring at high rates and, often, there are not enough individuals in the middle ranks to backfill those positions left vacant. This war for talent is compounded by fewer young professionals launching careers in insurance and filling entry-level roles. Wages are increasing across many industries, meaning insurers are competing with areas they may not have in the past, such as service industry positions. Candidates have the upper hand in today’s market and are driving up costs for insurers in terms of total compensation.

From a monetary standpoint, individuals are expecting higher salaries than even a year ago, which often misaligns with what hiring managers anticipate or organizations can provide. At the same time, many of the incentives previously offered as perks, such as working from home or having flexible hours, are now considered table stakes among professionals.

How can employers effectively compete in this challenging landscape?

Recognize all individuals have different motivators. Early in the interview process, aim to uncover why a candidate is considering a new role and pinpoint their motivators. Then, use this knowledge to communicate how you can meet their needs throughout the interview process. Drilling down into a candidate’s motivators can also provide insight into the sincerity of their job search and whether they’d be willing to accept a new role if you meet their requirements. This can help rule out candidates who aren’t serious about a position, enabling you to focus your time on more viable long-term hires.

Uncover what drives a candidate. In many cases, the tables have turned during the interview process. Rather than sharing their potential impact on a company or the value they’ll bring to a role, many professionals are less concerned about gaining an edge and are more focused on what employers can do for them. Along with more money, this may also include title changes and advancement opportunities, or being guaranteed permanent remote work. The value of each of these areas is dependent on the individual. Be as generous as possible when working these driving factors into a total rewards package.

Adjust your own expectations of the recruiting process. From accelerated decision-making to increased communication, the recruiting process looks very different today than it did even a year ago. It’s important to acknowledge that you may lose a candidate if you don’t move quickly. In the past, it’s been possible to take a few days to think through whether a particular candidate is right for the position or to interview multiple individuals and weigh who is the best choice. These luxuries can’t be afforded in the current market. If you find a candidate who will perform well in the role, don’t hesitate to make an offer — and a strong one.

Seek out transferable skills. Especially for early career roles, focus on interpersonal skills and other qualities that transcend industries and departments. Often, individuals can learn industry nuances on the job or with training. However, more innate skills such as strong communication, leadership abilities, empathy and a growth mindset are difficult to teach. In addition to expanding your candidate pool, recruiting for skills will create a more adaptable workforce that is primed to tackle future challenges and step into new roles as needs arise.

Be thoughtful with your offer. Expect that candidates are being pursued and interviewed by multiple companies. Keeping this in mind, don’t present a mediocre offer as a starting point for negotiation. There’s a high chance candidates will receive and be quick to accept stronger offers from your competitors. If you’ve put in the work on the front end to understand their motivation for considering a new role, your next step is to determine the best you can offer in that area, adjusting the rest of their total rewards package as necessary.

As the labor market continues to shift, understanding changing candidate expectations is key to producing compelling and competitive total rewards packages. By uncovering what is most important to candidates, adjusting your own expectations and recruiting timelines, and producing strong starting offers, you’ll be best positioned to attract talented and capable individuals.

Topics Talent Training Development

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Insurance Journal West February 21, 2022
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