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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.

Burn-out: The Symptoms and the Treatment

Burn-out: The Symptoms and the Treatment

As the economy continues to churn, and despite experiencing five of the 15 costliest global catastrophes in the past two years, the outlook for the Property and Casualty Insurance industry has remained positive. With this favorable outlook, many insurance professionals are finding themselves with multiple career advancement opportunities. This candidate-driven market, combined with the newest workplace epidemic (burn-out) could be contributing to the increase in turnover rates

According to the Workplace Institute, one in four employees will quit this year, with one in three voluntarily leaving their jobs by 2020. One of the growing reasons for this exodus is burn-out.

We’ve all felt it. Those days when just the thought of going into work makes you exhausted or turns your good mood into a sour one. You experience a lack of motivation, feel overwhelmed, and make more mistakes than normal. The longer the feeling continues, the worse it gets until it becomes a major problem. You just feel…burned out.

You aren’t alone. The World Health Organization recently declared burn-out an official medical diagnosis. Scientists have been studying burn-out and its effects since the 1970s, and it’s time to start taking it seriously. By recognizing the symptoms and finding ways to prevent burn-out, you can better the mental health of your employees and have a positive impact on your bottom line.

The Symptoms of Burn-out

Burn-out is the result of a lack of balance between personal and work life. While the symptoms of burn-out can apply to other parts of your life, WHO advises burn-out refers “specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

These symptoms can result in a lack of production, and increased fatigue, irritability, frustration, and errors. All of these can culminate in a lack of motivation for team members and can have a negative impact on your bottom line.

Treatment for Burn-out

Burn-out in the insurance industry affects more than the person facing it. When one member of your team feels overwhelmingly negative and is failing to succeed, your entire team suffers. Here are a few ways you can prevent burn-out in the insurance industry and keep it from becoming a chronic issue at your company:

  • Celebrate successes. No matter how small, every goal met makes a difference. By acknowledging daily accomplishments and recognizing successful team members, you increase team motivation. By counteracting negativity with positivity, you can boost the morale of the employees feeling burn-out.
  • Show employees the bigger picture. When setting goals for your team, make sure they see how those goals impact the goals to follow. When moving quickly from one goal to another, team members can feel like they aren’t making any progress. Connecting their performance to the company’s results makes team members feel like they are part of that larger picture.
  • Create a plan. If you’re noticing an uptick in unhappy employees, it’s time to find out what those problems are. Pay attention to who works from home, stays late at the office, or skips lunch. Analyze those workloads and find out why they feel the need to work after hours. Create a burn-out prevention plan that enforces work hours, encourages breaks, and sets goals to preserving mental health in the workplace. This plan will make it easier to prevent burn-out and confront it when it occurs.

Burn-out is a problem that plagues every industry and insurance is not immune. Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of and finding ways to prevent burn-out is crucial to the success of your employees and your insurance business. For more than 15 years, The James Allen Companies have been partnering with insurance companies to identify and hire leaders who help inspire their workforce and keep them engaged. To learn more, contact us today.

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.

The Value of Soft Skills

The Value of Soft Skills

A successful insurance business needs a diverse group of people with diverse skills and talents. “Hard skills” are easily measured with proven success and practice, but many skills that make an active and successful team member are not so easy to define. Communication and critical thinking are increasingly important as more and more positions are automated—these skills can set a candidate apart and make them more successful as your employee.

Importance of Soft Skills

Soft skills are the interpersonal attitudes that define an individual’s character in a workplace environment and can help determine how a candidate might fit in with a company’s culture. In a Global Talent Trends survey conducted by LinkedIn, 91 percent of talent professionals said they believe soft skills are important to the future of recruiting. The decision of hiring a candidate or firing an employee can ride on that individual’s ability to leverage soft skills. Additionally, 92 percent of talent professionals believe soft skills are just as important as hard skills, and it was found that up to 89 percent say poor hires often lack soft skills.

Essential Soft Skills

Some soft skills are more desired than others and finding candidates with those skills is like finding a piece of hay in a stack of needles. With so many people focusing on how to develop their hard skills, the development and refinement of soft skills can go by the wayside. Some soft skills are even harder to find and understand than others. LinkedIn identified the following skills as the most in-demand relative to their supply:

Creativity is not limited to the artists and musicians of the world. Creativity is a highly desired skill because it can never be automated, and it allows people to solve problems with relevance and novelty. Without creativity, there is no innovation, and to succeed today, you need to be more innovative than the competition.

Persuasion is less about manipulating others, and more about defending ideas and explaining why they matter. This a skill needed for sales, but also in management. By being able to communicate the benefits of an idea with genuine reasons and thought, a successful leader can influence decisions to push innovation forward.

Collaboration proves a person’s ability to work on a team. How that person communicates with others, how they trust and whether they tolerate new ideas and compromise with others can indicate how much of a team player the individual is. Collaboration is key to a successful team dynamic and one weak link can throw off the entire team.

Adaptability can go hand-in-hand with collaboration. An individual needs to be flexible and OK with change. They need to be prepared for new people to join the team, receptive to criticism and innovation and stay calm even in stressful situations.

Time Management can mean the difference between managing a workload or drowning in it. Being able to prioritize tasks can result in increased productivity and faster decision making.

A candidate’s soft skills are crucial to their possible success at your organization. The James Allen Companies’ recruiters understand the value of soft skills. With our nearly 30 years of insurance industry recruiting and over 40 years combined overall staffing experience, we are the experts at placing candidates who are able to communicate, think on their feet and influence change. The James Allen Companies is the answer to recruiting the candidates with all of the skills required to help your insurance organization advance. Contact us today to see how our insurance industry-expert recruiters can help your business with your next hiring project.

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.

How to Create a Top-Rate Salary Range

How to Create a Top-Rate Salary Range

Money can’t buy you love. We believe that to be true, but we also know when it comes to finding candidates to fit into your business, money might be able to get you the best candidates. When it comes to accepting a position at a new company, 43.2 percent of candidates will be convinced to leave their current company for another if it offers them a better salary. If you aren’t offering the right salary to passive candidates, you might lose them. Here are some quick tips to help you determine a proper salary range for open positions at your company.

Determine the Market Rate

When hiring new employees, you need to sell the candidate on your company. You can’t do that when your company is hiring for lower pay than the company they already work for.

To avoid this, it’s important to find out what other companies will pay for the same candidate for the same position or find out what the candidate is currently making. Audit other companies to find out what other benefits they might offer and what the similar position’s duties are. Also, find out where the position ranks in that company compared to where it ranks in yours.

Analyze the Position

Once you’ve completed an audit of similar companies, ask yourself a few questions about the position you’re hiring for. How does this position add value to your company? What are the requirements you’re looking for? What would you expect to be paid for this position?

Look at the requirements and daily assignments and how this employee interacts with the rest of the team. You need to make sure you can fairly determine a compensation plan that is fair to the position. Make it flexible so you can fit it to match the candidates you might hire.

Don’t Forget the Most Important Factor

You’re not just hiring an employee, you’re hiring a person. You have to focus on the technical skills, practical knowledge, experience and personality. You have to determine the value of the individual you’re interested in hiring. Don’t go in hoping to hire at the lower end of the salary range you’ve established. Go in hoping to hire the best candidate that can help your business grow.

At The James Allen Companies, we know that hiring is an important aspect of your job. To help your company grow, you need the best candidates and we can help you find them. By ensuring your offered salary ranges and compensation plans are fair, you can be sure to find the best candidates in the business.

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.


Investing in your business’ future: A culture of education

Investing in your business’ future: A culture of education

“Education is the key to success.”

We’ve all heard the phrase and know how true it can be. You’ve taken the time to educate yourself on the insurance industry and have probably earned at least one of the many specialty designations there are to earn—perhaps the CPCU or another certification. Your career has advanced because of education. Are you helping your team do the same?

As generations retire and new ones take their place in the field, talent gaps in the insurance industry begin to widen. Many new hires are straight out of college with a bachelor’s or master’s degree but without the same level of knowledge of those retiring. It is crucial that you invest in the new generation of talent to narrow the talent gap and watch your business become successful.

A Culture of Education

We talk a lot about business culture as part of what makes a business successful; after all, if your employees are happy, they’ll be more efficient and more eager to help the team grow. Making education and additional training part of your company’s culture will make your employer brand that much stronger.

What is a culture of education and how can it benefit your business?

  • Improve Motivation: Opportunities to earn new competences show employees you believe in their abilities and align them with the company mission therefore making them feel part of the team and increasing their work ethic.
  • Encourage Innovation: Encouraging education and training also emboldens your employees to think critically and come up with innovative ideas to help push the company forward. The culture of education provides confidence to employees and makes your team stronger.
  • Maximize Employee Potential. When you encourage employees to earn new designations, you invest in your team. These employees may want to move to upper management levels which means they can promote the same work ethic and values to any future teams.

How to Create a Culture of Education

You can begin to create a culture of education the moment someone new joins the team:

  • Hire curious people. People who want to learn will learn and they’ll encourage others to do the same. Encourage people who want to ask questions to do so. They may find solutions to problems you never knew you had.
  • Focus on skills, define behaviors. Allowing employees to refine old competencies and earn new ones will help them succeed at the technical aspects of their jobs. However, by focusing on new behaviors you want your employees to develop, you can greatly improve the success of your business’ culture.
  • Communicate goals. To get everyone on board with your new goals and culture, you must first tell your employees what those goals are. Encourage management on all levels to keep employees updated on company progress and allow them to communicate their successes.
  • Lead by example. To encourage your employees to learn, you should be learning too. As a manager, you should be showing them you’re actively finding ways to improve your skills and earn new designations or competencies. Share new knowledge with your team and send them ideas for trainings they can do with you. Let them know you value your continued education as well.

At The James Allen Companies, we specialize in finding you new talent who appreciate the chance to learn and grow. We identify candidates with a thirst for knowledge not satisfied by their current position. Filling one open position with one knowledge-hungry candidate can drastically change the culture of your business and help kickstart a culture of education in your office.

Contact us to learn more.

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 You’re Striking Out With Candidates

How You’re Striking Out With Candidates

In our last blog, we talked about how to perfect your candidate pitch by writing the perfect job description. The job description is a key factor in getting candidates interested in your company’s position, but during the hiring process, every pitch matters and serves as an opportunity to sell your business to candidates.

With the US employment rate at its lowest in 18 years, we are facing a candidate-driven market with more jobs than candidates to fill them. For you, this means more competition for those star players.

Unfortunately, many companies haven’t adapted to this new market and still hire like candidates are desperate for employment. They’re not! Even after a candidate expresses interest in your company (based on that initial job description) it can be really easy to strike out and lose that candidate’s attention.

Strike One: Wasting the Candidate’s Time

There are a lot of ways to waste a candidate’s time and in this market, is that a risk you can afford?  A lengthy application and interviewing process are common ways to lose your candidates’ interest fast. Only 40 percent of candidates are willing to complete an application, especially if you are requiring them to include education and past experience while also asking for a resume.

Another way to waste your candidates’ time is to put them through the ringer of too many interviews. One, two, maybe even three interviews depending on the position could be appropriate, but the more you add, the more time you’re wasting. It’s also exhausting for candidates to take the time to attend so many interviews and potentially lose money or productivity from their current career to do so.

Strike Two: Failure to Sell the Opportunity

Don’t ask a candidate “Why do you want to work here?” Tell them why they should.

Candidates want to be sold on your businesses’ culture. They want to see that employees are staying for long periods of time and they want to know why. They want to know they’ll be listened to and understood by management. Allow candidates to meet current employees who can share their experiences at the company. Your current employees are your best testimonials and your biggest asset in the hiring process. Also, when evaluating passive candidates, realize they will have expectations for a fair and reasonable increase in their current salary.

Strike Three: Not Making A Decision

Hiring candidates can be difficult, but you eventually have to make a decision—and sooner is better than later. Candidates can tell when you’re not confident in your hiring decision. The more interviews you schedule, the longer it takes, the easier it is for them to lose interest in your opportunity.

You may have to get a little creative in regard to the type of candidate you will consider. Comparing your candidate pool to the perfect vision in your head is opening yourself up for disappointment. It’s important to remember candidates must have a reason for change. Passive applicants are open to exploring opportunities that will allow them to progress and grow their career. If the position they are evaluating is exactly the same as they have, then it will be difficult to secure their services.

Just like in baseball, hiring can be “one, two, three strikes you’re out.” Just like you are judging whether or not a candidate is right for your business, they are evaluating whether or not you are right for them. You sold them on the initial pitch, but you have to keep the momentum moving forward throughout the hiring process to make sure you don’t strike out.

The James Allen Companies works with you diligently to identify, evaluate and secure passive, qualified insurance talent. Call us to discuss your staffing needs.