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Empathy an Essential in the Insurance Industry

Empathy an Essential in the Insurance Industry

Insurance professionals need to be a lot of things—experienced, detail-oriented, team players, patient, problem solvers…empathetic. Since policyholders are nearly always experiencing loss when filing a claim, the individual helping them must provide support beyond financial. And the numbers back this up: in fact, 91 percent of CEOs believe empathy in insurance has a positive effect on financial performance. 

With profitability as the main goal, it can be easy to get caught up in daily tasks, but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that insurance is about people. Unless you insure robots, policyholders have feelings and it’s important to understand that. Empathy in insurance is essential for that reason. Everyone, from managers to adjusters, needs to have the ability to meet their employees and clients in a space where they feel their concerns are valid. 

How to Be Empathetic 

Insurance is a complicated business. While the ultimate goal is to make money, it is crucial you don’t forget this is a human industry. When you’re speaking with policyholders, it’s usually because they’re having one of the worst days of their lives. Maybe their home was destroyed by fire or natural disaster, or a pipe burst while they were on vacation—flooding their belongings, or maybe a car wreck has totaled the vehicle they need to get to work. Whatever the reason they have to talk to you, it’s imperative that you remain focused on them, and not just the policy. 

There are a lot of ways to express empathy in insurance: 

Listen: When a policyholder calls and is explaining their situation, don’t get caught up in efficiency. While they want to know what their settlement will be, they also need an ear to listen. Listen completely, don’t multitask. If you’re face-to-face, look them in the eye, keep your body language open and don’t interrupt them. 

Be genuine: Ask questions about how they are doing before getting into the nitty-gritty business; it will help you grasp just how they’re feeling so you can proceed in a way that makes the most sense. 

Explain, explain, explain: When it comes time to discuss the policy itself, it’s important to explain the claims process, what their policy states and make sure they understand completely before proceeding. 

Put yourself in their shoes: Remember, this person is facing a crisis. If you were in their situation, what would you want to hear? How would you want to be treated? What kind of support would you need? 


You probably learned about empathy from a young age, except you may have heard it in the form of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. This is important to remember in the insurance industry. When it comes to hiring new employees, especially management, empathy needs to be—if not the highest priority— one of the first soft skills you look for. 

If you’re in need of individuals who can balance making a profit while taking care of people in a positive way, partner with The James Allen Companies. Our team of recruiters recognize talent and skill, but also recognize if someone has what it takes to treat policyholders and other team members with empathy and value. Don’t let your company’s reputation suffer from a lack of empathy—contact us today to see how we can help your business. 

Don’t Be a Fool, Don’t Offer a Counteroffer

Don’t Be a Fool, Don’t Offer a Counteroffer

As a business manager, you will have a point in your career when an employee delivers you their resignation letter. Watching an employee leave your company is hard, especially if they’re a good one. 

Resignations are inevitable and there are a lot of ways to handle the situation: argue with them, express your relief, give a counteroffer, or accept their resignation respectfully.

Obviously, expressing resentment or relief at the candidate’s departure is not your best choice, but maybe you’re considering suggesting a counteroffer. Last week, we advised candidates that accepting a counteroffer was not in their best interest, and this week, we want to tell you why even suggesting a counteroffer in the first place is a bad idea. 

Here are a few things you should consider before offering a counteroffer:

Sets a precedent. If you start proposing counteroffers, you have to think about where the buck stops. How many counteroffers are you willing to offer in a year? What employees are worth keeping? By offering one employee a counteroffer, you risk damaging your employer brand with other employees. When you give an employee a raise, a promotion or another perk as a retention measure, other employees who have worked hard will start questioning the value of their work. They may even think about resigning themselves in an attempt to get the same offer.

It’s a temporary fix. A lot of counteroffers include higher compensation, but it’s likely not enough to satisfy the resignee. There’s a pretty good chance the employee isn’t just leaving because they want higher compensation. Most employees leave because of negative work cultures, issues with management, or the workload, not just because they want more money. If a candidate accepts your counteroffer for extra benefits, there is an 80 percent chance they’ll be gone in less than six months because the issues haven’t been addressed. Since it can cost 33 percent of an employees salary to replace them, now you’ve paid them more to keep them on board, it will cost even more to replace them. Save yourself the effort and money and let them leave. 

Everybody can be replaced. Even the best employees can be replaced. When an employee leaves, you have a plethora of options for replacing them. You can promote another current employee with similar skills, a knowledge of your company and a desire to grow in their career, or you can hire someone new. No matter what you decide, you’ll have a position available and you’ll need help getting it filled as soon as possible. By partnering with The James Allen Companies, you can get that position filled quickly with the best candidate possible. No one is irreplaceable, and we can find the candidates that have the right skills, talent and personality to work well at your organization. 


Dealing with an employee resignation leaves you with a lot of options, and proposing a counteroffer is not a good one. Accept the resignation with respect, wish the employee the best and use it as an opportunity to better your employer brand. Resignations are inevitable and if you’re needing to recruit professionals to help propel your business, give The James Allen Companies a call today to see how we can help you. 

The Truth About Independence Day

The Truth About Independence Day

With a thunderous crack, a blinding light and a whiff of sulfur, it begins. 

If your community is like ours, we’ve been celebrating Independence Day for a week or so already. Nightly fireworks shows put on by neighbors shake the air every evening as kids laugh, dazzled by the colored embers above them. 

Despite the noise, it can be peaceful. There’s a feeling of pride in living in a country that celebrates its Independence in such an elaborate way. There’s a feeling of excitement knowing in a couple of days the celebration gets just that much bigger. There’s an anticipation of family barbecues and community fairs that rises in your chest and you can’t sleep, not because the noise keeps you awake, but because you can’t contain the joy. It’s almost Independence Day and what a beautiful day it is. 

The truth is, there is so much more to love about this holiday than the fireworks and the family barbecues. Independence Day is a time to celebrate the history of The United States of America and the men and women who fight to preserve it. 

Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, our nation has grown from 13 small colonies into a country of 3.79 million square acres of land with expansive deserts, soaring mountains and stunning coastlines. We have become a superpower sitting at the head of global organizations, forming partnerships with countries on nearly every continent. We have become an economic powerhouse with industrial revolutions that changed the course of history. Could our forefathers have imagined such a country all those years ago, we don’t know, but I think they’d be proud.

Independence Day is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, but even more so, it’s a time to honor those who have fought to preserve the freedom the colonists won two centuries ago. To this day, our military remains the most powerful in the world. Our troops are a dedicated bunch of strong men and women who have given their lives to protecting their families, friends, neighbors and countrymen from forces who want to take away that freedom. They fight for freedom and independence every day and without them, we wouldn’t have the rights we have today. 

We believe honoring our troops is the best way to celebrate the July 4 holiday, so take some time this week to remember them. When you watch your local fireworks show, take the time to recognize those “bombs bursting in air” remind us that freedom isn’t free. Remember that no matter what our nation faces, our flag remains. 

The James Allen Companies would like to say a special thank you to all those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation’s freedom. Please have a blessed and safe Independence Day!


God Bless America, 

Sincerely,

The James Allen Companies.

How to form a relationship with your recruiter

How to form a relationship with your recruiter

Hiring quality employees is essential to the growth of your organization, and hiring now is harder than ever. Unemployment in the insurance industry sits at just 1.7 percent meaning there aren’t as many people looking for jobs in the field as in the past. At the same time, the industry is facing one of the largest talent losses in history as thousands of people are set to retire in the next couple of years.

The market for talent is tight and with the odds stacked against you, it’s important that you hire creatively and efficiently. The best way to find the best candidates in a timely fashion is to turn it over to the professionals: the recruiting team at The James Allen Companies. As insurance industry recruiters, we specialize in finding the insurance professionals that will work for you to elevate your company to the next level.

When working with our recruiters, the best way to get the most bang for your buck is by developing a relationship with them. We value the relationships we form with our clients. It allows us to make more successful hires because we have a chance to better understand your business. Trying to hire and run your business can be overwhelming, and forming relationships might be the last thing on your mind. But, in the best interest of your business, there are a few things you should know about how to form a relationship with your recruiter.

Get your ducks in a row.

Make sure you know what you need. If you don’t, we won’t either. What position are you hiring for? What are the requirements for the position? What hard and soft skills are needed for the position? When do you need this person to start? By communicating your expectations, we will have a better understanding of what you need. Getting to know your business gets our relationship off on the right foot and minimizes confusion in the future.

Be flexible.

Passive candidates have so many options in this market and need a good reason to leave their current position to work with your company. While money is important and can be a major sticking point, passive candidates are often motivated by more than just a dollar figure. Other driving factors are benefits, positive workplace culture and, more importantly, opportunities for advancement and career growth. The key is creativity. Being open to candidates who can grow into the role will have a major impact on their decision to make the move. Our recruiters have the patience and persistence to discover what motivates these candidates and how they fit into the bigger picture of your business’s success.

Communicate directly and openly.

Do you remember the telephone game? Someone whispers something in someone’s ear, it goes around the circle and when it gets back to the beginning of the circle, you find out what you heard was far from what the original person said. This can happen in the hiring process if we aren’t working directly with the ultimate decision maker. Too many members of your hiring committee in the mix can result in miscommunication and confusion.

Make decisions in a timely manner.

When a candidate takes the time to meet with you and discuss your company, you owe them the courtesy of a quick decision. Establish a deadline for the decision to be made, make sure the recruiter is kept informed.

Trust the process.

Armed with the knowledge and expertise, our recruiters know how to identify and recruit qualified candidates for your company. Every step of the way, our efficient and attentive approach ensures you’ll find the right candidate at the right time. We share updates frequently so you know what’s going on and why we select the candidates we do. When given the opportunity to propel your business, we offer every resource available to serve your needs.

The James Allen Companies cherishes the relationships we form with our clients. We are dedicated to working with and for you. When you partner with the best name in insurance industry staffing, you know you’re getting the best candidate the industry has to offer. If you’re interested in developing a partnership that will last, contact us today to find the hiring solutions that work for you.

Assessing Soft Skills

Assessing Soft Skills

As we discussed last week, soft skills are crucial when finding the best candidate for your insurance business. Ninety-two percent of talent professionals believe soft skills are just as important if not more than the technical skills needed for the job. At The James Allen Companies, we believe both are essential, but soft skills can mean the difference between a good hire and a bad one. In fact, one study found 89 percent of bad hires lack the necessary soft skills needed to succeed in their place of work.

Considering how essential soft skills are to choosing the right candidate, it might surprise you that only 41 percent of businesses have a formal process to evaluate those skills. It’s time to start a soft skills evaluation process that can result in more successful hires.

Determine what skills are needed: Decide and list the skills needed for the position you’re hiring for and the company culture. Do you have a collaborative culture or do people work on their own? Does this position require persuasion to sell a product? Identifying what skills are needed for the job will help you come up with the process of evaluation.

Engage with your candidate. Interviewing a candidate is a great way to get to know a person on a professional level, but if a candidate is going to be working with you, you need to know them personally too. Don’t just interview with them, interact with them. Set up a meeting in an informal setting. This is a much better way to pick up on those key social skills you need at your company.

Standardize your interviews. The questions you ask one candidate should be the same ones you ask every other candidate. When selecting questions to ask candidates, choose behavioral questions that ask the candidate to draw on their past experiences and situational questions to gauge how they might react in situations they may encounter on the job.

Challenge them. This is similar to situational questions except you’re actually watching them in action. Give them a task such as planning a campaign or selling a product. Watch them perform the task and let them walk you through their process. This is a great opportunity for you to observe their soft skills in action.

Consider tech-based analysis methods. There are a lot of online services that can help you systematically evaluate a candidate’s soft-skills. These are great for eliminating bias in the process but can add time to the candidate’s application process which can be a turnoff to some candidates.

Evaluating soft skills is a difficult task, but is incredibly important for the hiring process. If a candidate lacks the skills your business needs, they can have a negative impact on your business. Recruiters at The James Allen Companies identify candidates that have the necessary communication, persuasion and other soft skills your company needs. We find candidates that are already successful and can transfer their skills to your business for continued success. Give us a call today to see how we can help your company identify the candidates with the skills you need to help your business prosper.

What Makes a Successful Leader?

What Makes a Successful Leader?

In the hyper-competitive insurance industry, to be on top, you must have a sharp team running your organization and you must have strong leaders guiding them to success. Without the right leadership, your company may suffer from increased turnover and lower profit. Luckily, there are a few qualities of successful leaders that you can identify during the hiring process to help determine the good from the bad.

The Costs of a Bad Leader

Just one poor leader can cost your insurance company more than $125,000 per year; a poor leadership team can result in millions of dollars lost. Poor leadership structure can create a 5 to 10 percent productivity drag, which can be detrimental to the culture of the business, resulting in a lack of vision or strategy, a culture of mediocrity and low employee morale. Dismal managers are not motivators, and that won’t work for your bottom line. In fact, a lack of good leadership can cost your company about seven percent of your annual sales, can decrease customer satisfaction and can cause up to 32 percent of your organization’s turnover.

What Makes a Good Leader

It can be difficult to identify a good leader because leadership styles are as unique as the individuals doing the leading. However, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, good leaders can be defined by a few key characteristics: honesty, the ability to delegate, commitment, confidence, creativity and intuition. Successful leaders also possess key traits such as the ability to self-manage, effective communication, being accountable, a passion for fostering innovation and agile learning abilities that allow them to manage a team fairly and efficiently while maintaining, even improving, company culture.

Leaders have a habit of staying curious, meaning they allow curiosity in their employees. They prioritize wellness and have the ability to listen and ask questions when necessary, valuing the health and well-being of the people they work with.

With nearly two decades in identifying and placing leaders in the insurance industry, the recruiters at The James Allen Companies recognize the qualities of successful leaders. If your company is in need of leadership, we can connect you to the candidates that will get the job done. Our access to passive talent who have proven their success gives your organization the foundation for continued growth.

To find out how we can help your business grow, give The James Allen Companies a call today.

Hiring in 2019: The Struggles and the Solutions

Hiring in 2019: The Struggles and the Solutions

Last week, the Great Insurance Jobs’ 2019 Insurance Industry Employment and Job Outlook report was released, giving us insight into the future of hiring in 2019—and it’s set to be an interesting year. A record-breaking 2.7 million people work in the insurance industry right now and the unemployment rate for the industry is only 2 percent; however, Great Insurance Jobs estimates 400,000 jobs will need to be filled by 2020 due to the high number of people retiring this year.

Here at The James Allen Companies, we are prepared to take this hiring challenge head-on. Based on this year’s findings, we identified 5 of the most pressing hiring issues facing this insurance industry and their resolutions.

  1. Too many unqualified candidates. We know the insurance industry is a great one to be a part of, and more people are starting to catch on. One problem facing the industry is the number of applicants who want to join the party but aren’t qualified for the position, or who lack insurance industry experience. When using common search methods like job boards to find talent, you’re only targeting active candidates. That means you will spend the majority of your time sifting through hundreds of unqualified candidates trying to join the game but not understanding how to play.
  2. Finding qualified people in my area for the right price. Depending on the area you’re in, your options for local talent looking for positions may seem limited. When it comes to compensation, salary grades and relocation costs, finding the proper candidate can seem like a losing battle.
  3. A lack of talent for technology-based careers. Technology-based careers in insurance are growing exponentially. These careers are expected to be one of the top five most in-demand insurance positions in 2019. It can be difficult to find this talent if your company has never had to find it before—and to make things more difficult, every industry needs the same talent. Technology professionals are in high demand in every field, making these positions incredibly competitive.
  4. Inadequate recruitment budgets. Open positions at your company take time and money. Many companies are faced with recruitment budgets that are too low to be effective. Much of those budgets are used determining which talent acquisition and software are worth using since there are so many available. Those who participated in this study also said they had a difficult time convincing high-up management staff to increase the budget to find the right candidate.
  5. Starting pay for sales positions. In the insurance industry, 20 percent of careers are in sales. Much like technology-based positions, other industries are fighting for the best sales professionals out there, leading to aggressive competition. Compensation for these positions have to be compared not just to insurance industry standards, but other industries as well.

No matter the hiring issue, the recruiting team at The James Allen Companies has the solutions. When it comes to investing in new talent, you want to make sure you get the best return, and partnering with our team ensures the best ROI. We face hiring challenges head-on and use our tried and true search methods to find the best candidates for you every time. We keep up with industry standards and know exactly where to find the candidates you need. We stay aware of market trends for pay and compensation to help you make an informed decision when it comes to picking the type of candidate who will work best for you.

By partnering with the recruitment experts at The James Allen Companies, you will have access to the best network of qualified, passive candidates in the market. With access to the best recruiting technology out there, we can find the right qualified candidate for you to keep your business ahead of the game.

Give us a call to discuss the recruitment solutions we can offer you and your business today.


What do candidates really want?

What do candidates really want?

We’ve talked a lot in the past few blogs about the importance of selling candidates on opportunities at your company, but that’s often easier said than done if you don’t know what candidates want. As markets change and new generations take their places in the workforce, expectations for employers change—and it can be hard to keep up. To help you out, we’ve broken down many benefits and perks today’s candidates are looking for when seeking new opportunities.

How important are benefits?

Recent studies show that benefits are among the top factors candidates consider when looking for new opportunities, but also that employers aren’t offering the incentives employees really want.

While only 10 percent of employees said benefits are the most important factor when accepting or rejecting job offers, 80 percent said they would take a job with good benefits over one with more money and 55 percent said they would accept a job with lower pay if there were better benefits. Benefits are vital for recruitment and retention, and by keeping track of the benefits candidates are interested in, you can set your business above the rest.

The benefits candidates want

Candidates value many things in the workplace. Competitive pay immediately comes to mind, but these days, the additional benefits and perks are even more important than financial gain.

Regarding traditional benefits, 88 percent of workers say health benefits are important to them. These benefits can include medical, dental, vision or any other health-based benefit or perk. However, only 44 percent of employers actually offer these benefits. That number is even lower when it comes to mental health benefits. Only 15 percent of employers offer these benefits to their employees.

Paid time off and paid parental leave are also cited as key factors to employees looking for opportunities. We all know how important it can be to take a few days off to take care of personal or family business or just get away from the office, but unfortunately, only 36 percent of employers offer paid time off and only 13 percent offer paid parental leave. These benefits, including the opportunity for flexible schedules, are especially beneficial for those with children or other personal responsibilities.

Additional benefits candidates look for are bonuses. Just over 40 percent of employers ranked bonuses (especially holiday bonuses) as a preferred perk. Sign-on and retention bonuses can also encourage candidates to accept your offer and continue to perform above expectations for years to come.


Recruiting and keeping employees can be hard when you don’t understand what they want. At The James Allen Companies, we stay up-to-date on market trends so we always know what candidates need. By partnering with The James Allen Companies, we will help you identify the right candidates for your business and help you identify the benefits you need to get those candidates on board. Give us a call today to talk with a recruiter about attracting and retaining the candidates you need to help your business grow.

How to Perfect Your Pitch to Candidates

How to Perfect Your Pitch to Candidates

With 2019 Major League Baseball season set to begin in just a few days, I got to thinking about the team dynamics of a baseball team. A baseball team has a 40-man active roster of both defensive and offensive players (batters as we call them). The nine men on the field playing defense all have their part defending the bases and monitoring the outfield with the catcher calling the shots for the pitcher. Every player is important, but the one that really determines how the game gets played is the pitcher.

Every team needs a good pitcher to throw those perfect no-hitter games. Think of your company in the same way. You have to be that perfect salesman, or pitcher, in order to get the job done. So how are you at pitching your company to potential candidates when there’s an open position at your company?

So, how do you make that perfect pitch?

The Details Matter

Selling your company to potential candidates begins with the job description. That initial pitch to your candidates needs to get them interested in the opportunity. Here are some basic tips to help you write the perfect pitch for your candidate. 

  • The job title. This is an obvious starting point for a job description as it literally tells a person what the position is. A good job title should reflect the nature of the job and the ranking order of where the position falls on the company’s roster.
  • A breakdown of daily tasks. Paint a picture for your candidate of what their day will look like in this position. You can include a breakdown of tasks by percentage, or, if the position is more flexible, explain what tasks will be completed throughout the course of the position.
  • The desired skills and competencies. These should be listed separately since they are two different things, however for the sake of time, we’re putting them together. Skills are activities that can be learned and measured over time like proficiency in Microsoft Office applications or other types of software. Competencies are the traits a person should be able to display for the position such as leadership or communication skills. 
  • Define the benefits. Telling candidates what they get from your company can set your company apart from others. If you offer good health insurance or paid time off, candidates will be more eager to pursue a position at your company.
  • Salary ranges. It always comes down to numbers. Candidates want to know they’ll be paid based on their experience and for the work they’ll put into your company. By offering a range, you can give a candidate a good idea of what their skills might be worth to your company.

Additional tips

Now that you know what elements you need for your perfect pitch, here’s some additional tips on how to make your pitch the best one in the league.

  • Spell check. Before handing over the job description to the recruiter who is helping you fill the position, check for any spelling errors and grammar mistakes. Make sure you check your formatting too. Big blocks of unorganized text can be an instant foul play in the eyes of a potential candidate.
  • Avoid cliches and focus on keywords. Don’t use terms like “rockstar” or “best-of-the-best” in a job description. Focus on terms that can actually be defined and measured so you don’t scare away candidates. You don’t want a candidate reading your job description to roll their eyes and move on to the next opportunity.

A decent job description can help set your company’s open positions apart from the rest, and while it’s only the first inning in the hiring game, it’s an important part of getting candidates interested.

At The James Allen Companies, we understand how important a good job description is for a candidate. With over 40 years of recruiting experience we know what can make or break a good pitch to potential candidates and can provide feedback and expertise on how to make your job descriptions perfect no-hitters.

What Your Silence Says to Candidates

What Your Silence Says to Candidates

Composer Claude Debussy said that music was the silence between the notes. An old adage states that silence is golden. Mark Twain reminded us that it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt. There are a lot of ways to say it, but it seems to be universally accepted that silence is tremendously valuable. Except when it comes to hiring. The more silence you allow to invade the process, the more opportunity you give your competitors to steal away potential candidates.

Many companies are unaware of how the quiet spaces between the various stages can affect candidate enthusiasm, so we have outlined some of the more perilous areas where silence can be especially damaging.

After First Contact

Once you have made initial contact with a candidate, you cannot overestimate their excitement and tenacity. This is a crucial time where you can either start things on the right foot by reciprocating that desire to move further or you give them room to pause by leaving them in the dark. We all know that we only get one chance to make a good first impression, so it is vital that the impression candidates have of you is one that resonates clear communication and a healthy interest.

Throughout the Process

If you have decided to move a candidate forward to the next step, communicate with them how that transition will work. People want to know what to expect, and they like to know when to expect it. Transparency is crucial for both parties. As the hiring company, you hope for and expect honesty and clarity from those you hire. It stands to reason they deserve as much in return. At this crucial point, silence can be translated as a lack of interest, which can inspire your prospective hire to abandon the process or seek out companies who won’t leave them in the dark.

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

Even the companies that exhibit great communication throughout the hiring process can find themselves taking their eye off the ball. Perhaps you have found a great candidate. You’ve been responsive. They’ve interacted well. You extend a verbal offer, and they accept. This is the point where too many organizations allow themselves to become too comfortable and allow too much time to lapse between the verbal commitment and something more official. Even the best candidate can be fickle, and at this important stage, silence breeds restlessness. Restlessness leads to recklessness. And recklessness can include abandoning a stagnant verbal offer for something more concrete.

Shorten the Silence

It stands to reason that you cannot be in constant communication with a candidate, but it is vital that you minimize opportunities for silence. There are innumerable variables that can deter a candidate; therefore, it doesn’t make sense to create additional roadblocks. Additionally, by reducing the silence throughout the process, you shorten the overall time it takes to locate and place the right person. The less time you spend between the stages of recruiting, interviewing, extending an offer and onboarding, the less opportunity there is for disruption.

At The James Allen Companies, we help reduce the silence while allowing you to stay focused on your day-to-day business. We are not only experts at locating and attracting the best professionals, we focus on finding passive candidates and bringing your opportunity front and center. Additionally, we keep these individuals engaged throughout the various stages while reducing the overall time it takes to make a hire by facilitating the logistics associated with interviews, offer proposal and onboarding. Partnering with us improves both you the level of professionals you place and the enthusiasm and drive they bring to your organization.