Lacking Structure: My Agency’s Biggest Recruiting Problem

By | September 16, 2019

Q: What are you seeing out there for experienced insurance talent? I dread recruiting because it’s never easy to find quality people. What are agencies doing to fill critical service roles and recruit producers?

A: Insurance agencies feed too much into the narrative: “The market is really tight. There are more jobs than candidates.” This isn’t untrue, but if your agency approaches recruiting with a defeatist mentality, then you’re going to struggle. The single biggest hiring issue for insurance organizations, no matter whether the agency has 50 or 5,000 employees, is a lack of structure. They treat the process the same for every position, lump all the resources into one bucket and hope to have successful, equal outcomes.

So, how do you know if your recruiting problems boil down to a lack of structure? If you’re guilty of some or all of the following, then yes, you need more structure.

You Wouldn’t Sell Without a Plan. (Recruiting Is Sales.)

I cannot imagine a sales leader telling his or her producers to prospect a $5,000 revenue small-business unit (SBU) account the exact same way as a Fortune 500 deal. Your agency knows time, resources and messaging are different based on the target client. The same is true in recruiting. You don’t have a solid recruiting plan if you’re doing these things:

  • Your job postings look the same for every opening.
  • You believe a posting on LinkedIn or Indeed will attract producers.
  • You think most positions can be filled in 60 days.
  • Your interview process is the same for an AE and a manager.
  • You hate recruiting fees and avoid third-party help at all cost.

Let’s Start With Postings. (Money Doesn’t Solve Problems.)

This is the “fling it out there and see what sticks” approach. Job applications are the best way to fill open positions, right? Wrong. Here’s how to tell if you rely too much on postings to start your process.

  • Your first thought is how much it costs per click to post/sponsor/boost a job.
  • Your applicant flow sharply decreases after 14-21 days.
  • You threw 90% of the applications in the garbage.
  • You’re only seeing the same, retread resumes.
  • You aren’t interviewing any passive candidates.

HR Handles Our Recruiting. (But Openings Affect Everyone).

A hands-off approach to recruiting is unfair to HR. Lack of engagement is a real problem among insurance executives. Hiring is frustrating and difficult to navigate when you don’t have structure to lean on. You are pushing 100% accountability to HR if you do the following:

  1. You haven’t provided clear, concise information on required skills and experience.
  2. You’re “open” on compensation without defining the floor or ceiling to screen candidates.
  3. You take longer than 24 hours to respond to submissions.
  4. You haven’t said if you want one, two or 10 interviews, and what’s involved in each.
  5. You haven’t asked nor care about performance in postings, cold calls or employee referrals.

Food For Thought

There is very little hiring data available for insurance agencies. Capstone compiles its own data on an annual basis to look at trends and help agencies structure recruiting plans. Does this information surprise you or seem familiar?

  • 60% of agency hiring is account manager/account executive related.
  • 30% of agency hiring is producer related.
  • 10% of agency hiring activity is management or technical driven (i.e., claims, marketing and loss control).

About Mary Newgard

Newgard is partner and senior search consultant for Capstone Search Group, a national recruiting firm dedicated to the insurance industry. For questions and comments, email: More from Mary Newgard

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Insurance Journal West September 16, 2019
September 16, 2019
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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