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The Eleventh Hour Part 1:  The Crises at Hand

The Eleventh Hour Part 1: The Crises at Hand

As suggested by the title, this post is only one piece of a larger series entitled The Eleventh Hour. In this four-part series we outline the major crises facing the job market of the insurance industry. We find the title of this series apt in that it accurately portrays just how close the industry is to being overwhelmed with a critical talent shortage. To open the series, we feel it is vital to delineate the three major dilemmas that are actively destabilizing the market of highly qualified candidates within the insurance industry. As we move forward with the series we will scrutinize these issues as well as the supposed solutions to an evaporating talent pool, which may prove to only worsen the situation.

Instead of viewing the three crises of the insurance job market as separate issues, it is best to understand these as three distinct patterns that are converging to produce a perfect storm capable of dismantling the foundations of the established hiring practices of the industry.

The Baby Boomer Crisis—The first, and most foreboding, blow to the talent pool is the mass retirement of the baby boomers. For nearly two decades, speculators have warned that the saturation of boomers in the insurance industry would, like any other economic bubble, reach a bursting point. It is clear now that these were not “the sky is falling” prophecies, as the data only encourages the position that the insurance talent pool is on the verge of falling beneath its critical mass. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this mass retirement will result in as many as 400,000 vacancies by 2020. Even more urgent is the prognosis that 25% of professionals within the insurance industry will retire by 2018.

The Generation X Crisis—The second prominent concern facing the industry is the scarcity of midlevel professionals in the insurance industry. When facing such a mass exodus of senior leadership, it is only natural to look down the bench toward those candidates with 10-15 years of experience and the résumé to inherit the executive mantle. Unfortunately, this is an especially deficient demographic as it is largely populated by Gen-Xers, a relatively diminutive generational population (in comparison to Baby Boomers and Millennials) whose professionals largely forewent careers in insurance to pursue opportunities in the world of finance. This deficiency has set the stage for a daunting experiential gap between rising Millennials and retiring Boomer executives.

The Millennial Crisis—As the Boomers who dominate the market retire, with no one to whom they can pass the torch, the generation most saddled with the future of the industry is the one with the least interest in insurance careers. The technology- and data-focused Millennials are highly sought across a number of industries that more closely align with their philosophies of a work-life balance. According to the Insurance Careers Movement, less than 5% of Millennials have expressed interest in the insurance industry.

Without dramatic adjustments to the processes of recruiting and retaining talent, the insurance industry faces an unprecedented shortage that could only exacerbate itself as it places an increasing burden on the current professionals who comprise the industry. In our next post we will address in greater detail experience gap presented by a sparse Generation X population and how companies can position themselves to address this gap.

Death of a Candidate

Death of a Candidate

There’s a plethora of quotes and clichés preaching the virtues of action.  The early bird gets the worm. Strike while the iron is hot. We could fill this post with the redundancy of phrases affirming and reaffirming the importance of being decisive and acting quickly on those decisions. As we find ourselves at the midpoint of the year, two facts have made themselves apparent:  it is a candidate’s market when it comes to careers in the insurance industry and employers are not responding appropriately. We continue to watch as the best available talent is secured by proactive organizations that are preparing themselves for the future, while hesitant companies put great candidates on the backburner, off in search of the nonexistent Mr. (or Ms.) Right, only to return and find that great candidate gone, most likely lost to an employer who understands that available talent today will be gone tomorrow.

What is most troubling is that these companies who hesitate not only suffer with the initial loss of a quality candidate, but also by extending the amount of time, money and energy needed to conduct a quality job search. Many times companies are unaware of certain practices that could be detrimental to their efforts. If you are finding yourself in situations like those we’ve mentioned, take an objective look at your current hiring practices and consider the following:

The Best Talent is Employed

As a professional staffing agency with decades of experience, we at The James Allen Companies go beyond a blanket search for candidates to fulfill your needs. We work in the interests of our clients, diligently searching for the best and most relevant talent. It stands to reason that said talent is probably already employed; however, hiring managers too often approach candidates as if they are an unvetted and underqualified applicant who found them through some bland job board. Candidates that are sourced by recruiting experts like those at The James Allen Companies are career professionals who have worked hard to acquire the experience and skills your company needs. These candidates take pride in their work and achievements. Unfortunately, when clients approach these candidates as though they are in need of employment, they demean their professionalism. Candidates certainly need to sell themselves to potential employers, but client companies need to be aware of the dynamics involved in interviewing and attracting quality candidates, and they need to be equally prepared to sell why these uniquely qualified job seekers should entertain the prospect of such a significant transition.

Time is on Their Side

There’s no reason to skirt the truth here:  candidates need a reason to make a move, and every second you allow them to reconsider a transition decreases the odds they take the leap. If you are stringing candidates along, be prepared to lose them. What is especially dangerous is that once you’ve planted the idea in their mind that a change is feasible, you’ve opened their eyes to not only your opportunity but other opportunities as well. The more time you delay in moving forward with them is more time your competitors have to swoop in and take advantage of your hesitation.

Don’t Rely On Life Support

Too many times we witness hiring managers risk the death of a candidate by placing them on a sort of “life support.” They feed them enough information or provide enough feedback to keep them on the hook, so to speak. This effort is unproductive, often even counterintuitive. The more you prolong the candidate’s experience, the more likely it is that you lose them to apathy, or worse, competition. When candidates get placed on life support, the thing it most often nurtures is their frustration. And candidates, like most people, vent their frustration. They vent them to us, but they also vent them to their colleagues and peers. Not only have you possibly damaged your relationship with this qualified candidate, but you are risking the way other professionals view your organization. The death of a candidate can become the death of several candidates.

When you engage the services of a professional staffing agency like The James Allen Companies, rest assured that they are connecting you with dynamic and qualified talent, but also be aware that the professionals they present are most likely solidly employed, passive candidates who are not readily searching for change in employment. Candidates that are truly hidden talent and can’t be found through job board postings, ads or other traditional means. Take advantage of the opportunity to attract and employ the industry’s best and brightest, but don’t risk the death of a candidate at the hands of indecisiveness.