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How Moneyball Helps Us Find the Right Talent

How Moneyball Helps Us Find the Right Talent

“Adapt or die.”

That’s the response Billy Beane offers his head scout when the latter challenges
Beane’s (at the time) unorthodox method of recruiting the best baseball talent in the film
Moneyball, the 2011 sports drama that chronicles the true story of the Oakland A’s 2002
baseball season and how they found success by ignoring the traditional methods of
recruiting talent and relying instead on a data-driven approach. The movie, based on a
2003 nonfiction book of the same name, took the story to a broader audience and
inspired people of various industries to reconsider the way they approached the search
for talent. Unfortunately, six years later we still find ourselves engaging with clients who
haven’t shed themselves of poor hiring practices, and, at the peril of their company, fail
to heed Beane’s advice to either “adapt or die.”

In the film, there is a scene that shows a group of scouts discussing and discounting
players on such ridiculous attributes as how the player walks into the room or the
attractiveness of their girlfriend (“Ugly girlfriend means no confidence,” says a straight-
faced scout to the protest of no one in the room). While in the context of the film, this is
a comedic moment, it also highlights the failures of a multibillion-dollar industry that is
over 150 years old. It also calls into question the validity of how we measure talent. Are
we truly respecting and considering the professional performance of the candidates, or
are we allowing ourselves to pass over the right candidate because of the firmness of
their handshake, the tone of their voice or, dare I say, the attractiveness of their
significant other?

We have written in-depth about the impending shortage of talent that is already
beginning to show its effects on the insurance industry (if you missed it, check out the
first of our four-part series covering the talent shortage, The Crises at Hand). Now more
than ever, it is time to take an objective and serious look at the way we evaluate and
assess prospective talent. At the risk of seeming too heavy handed, there is a fair
amount of research that shows following the often-overvalued “gut decisions” as
opposed to relying on an unbiased approach of data is more often a path to failure than
success. However, with the right approach and the right recruiting partner, there is room
for opportunity for companies to secure top talent.

Like Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s discovered in 2002, there is a wealth of talent out
there that is being overlooked because they don’t fit the classic perception of what we
think of when we envision the perfect candidate. Whether it’s their age or their haircut,
but there is a growing pool of hyper-talented candidates who are going to prove to be
the all-stars organizations need to succeed now and in the future. At The James Allen
Companies, we are always cognizant of your company’s culture, and we have the
experience and success to prove we understand how important it is to an organization’s
potential; however, we also have the industry expertise to locate the highest level of
untapped potential in the insurance industry that can help a company transform and
grow.

Understanding the Passive Candidate

Understanding the Passive Candidate

All signs within the insurance industry indicate that we are only moving further into a bear market in terms of accessible talent. As organizations continue to respond by shoring up their vacancies, it becomes increasingly more likely that the best fit for your open positions is already employed with one of your competitors. What makes this especially difficult is that the strategies and concepts typically incorporated by internal hiring departments are built out of an active candidate approach. These systems are designed to filter jobseekers who have sought out the opportunity and submitted documentation necessary to express interest. Unfortunately, as the pool of qualified talent continues to shrink, finding the best available talent through these means is often the exception rather than the rule. In order to compete at the next level, it is essential to apply a first-rate passive candidate approach.

 

The Statistics

While there is no direct statistics regarding the makeup of the insurance industry workforce as it pertains to active and passive candidates, there are some educated assumptions we can make when considering the greater workforce statistics. According to the article Recruiting Active vs. Passive Candidates, only 25% of the fully-employed workforce in the United States could be considered truly “active.” This means just what it implies, these members of the workforce are actively looking for a new opportunity, submitting resumes and applications. The remaining 75% of the workforce falls under the “passive” category, with a fifth of those being what could be considered on the cusp. Candidates on the cusp may be more inclined to consider new opportunities but still qualify as passive since they have not made steps to pursue a change in career.

 

How It Translates

If 75% of the entire workforce is comprised of passive candidates, the current state of competition for talent indicates that this percentage is probably higher within the insurance industry. As organizations struggle to find qualified insurance professionals due to baby boomer retirement and a dearth of millennial and Gen-X talent, the most qualified candidates are those already employed and, likely, not actively seeking new opportunities. What this means is that the traditional means of seeking candidates are going to yield very limited results.

 

Landing the Passive Candidate

Without the aid of an experience recruiting partner like The James Allen Companies, it is difficult bordering on impossible for organizations to locate, much less land, passive talent with their internal systems. This lack of interaction with passive candidates often inhibits these companies with understanding the intricacies of interviewing and attracting these individuals. The primary thing to remember is that the passive candidate was not looking, implying that they are, at least, satisfied with their current position. Hesitancy and delays are quick ways to lose your chance at what is most likely the best fit for the position you are seeking to fill. You cannot approach the passive candidate with the one-sided mentality that it is them who needs to sell their skills and expertise. With the passive candidate, it is just as important that you sell the candidate on why your organization is worth them pursuing the opportunity.

 

The most important thing to glean from this information is that if you are focused on finding the best possible candidates for your open positions, your best opportunity lies in passive candidates. And the best passive candidates are sourced by professional recruiters who understand the insurance industry. Once you have access to these candidates, however, it is vital that you recognize the best way to keep them interested in your opportunity. A swift hiring process that is expedited in favor of candidates with a strong and proven track record is an ideal example of how to improve one’s odds when attempting to secure passive talent. This is the added value of skilled recruiters like those at The James Allen Companies. We can provide you with the insight unique to each candidate, giving your organization the best chance of securing them. As the talent pool continues to dry up, the stakes are only getting higher. Take the most important step toward better talent today by reaching out to us.

An Optimist’s Guide to Staffing in Today’s Market

An Optimist’s Guide to Staffing in Today’s Market

As predictions of the insurance talent shortage continue to actualize, it’s easy to become pessimistic about the prospects of meeting the increasingly complex demands of staffing in such an unpredictable landscape. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of negativity, because that very pessimism often plays into the hiring process, creating obstacles where we should be finding opportunities. Granted, there are a lot of variables at play regarding the shortage in highly qualified talent, but as it stands today, many of those variables are beyond our control. What we can control is how we approach the search for the next generation of our organizations. A lot has been said regarding the evolving talent landscape as it pertains to millennials, but we’re going to focus on how we can adjust the way we can approach the hiring process regardless of which generation is being considered.

 

Semantics

The linguistic approach to staffing is reflective of the problems that originate from the start of the process. The terms used to illustrate the goals and objectives of hiring are far too often transactional, reducing the human factor. For example, a term perhaps too freely thrown around that aptly illustrates this transactional tone is “talent acquisition.” There is nothing inherently wrong with wishing to increase and maximize the talent of one’s organization; however, the word “acquisition” bears with it connotations that can leave a negative impression. The root word, “acquire,” is largely equated with gaining possession or ownership of an object. Therein lies the problem. A term like “talent acquisition” dehumanizes and objectifies people who are being acquired, marginalizing them as nothing more than possessions with no value other than the specific skillset for which they were targeted.

 

Screening “In”

One damaging artifact of the days of hiring in a bull market is the procedure of screening out applicants. This is not to suggest that a certain level of screening out should not occur, but we are no longer in a time where applicants can be screened out until only those that completely and comprehensively meet the required and preferred qualifications still comprise a healthy field of possibilities. The ramifications of approaching the screening process with the mindset of filtering only for candidates that check all boxes can be both immediate and compounding. It can initially cost an organization a great deal of time and money as they continue to search for that “perfect” candidate that, in today’s market, most likely does not exist. Additionally, the screening-out mentality can also lead to the dismissal of great young talent that will most likely go to more proactive companies with their eyes on the future.

 

Stagnation

Often, the worst thing we can do is nothing. Unfortunately, as true as this may be, it doesn’t prevent hiring managers from hesitating and not only losing talented professionals in the moment but also in the future. Paralysis by analysis is not a new concept, but in regards to hiring within the insurance industry, it is becoming exceptionally fatal. Too many talented candidates are being lost because the gauntlet of the interviewing process is lasting too long and allowing too much time for prospective candidates to rethink or, again, be intercepted by companies who understand that in an evaporating talent pool, time is of the essence.

 

In the end, it comes back to optimism. As easy as it may be to allow the prospect of a dwindling market to bring your spirits down, there is also a bevy of opportunity awaiting companies that are able to approach the hiring process with a more positive outlook. It begins with the words we use and the connotations they create around the hiring process. Optimism is vital throughout the screening process, as well. Are we looking to dismiss candidates or are we focused on finding candidates that could grow into exceptional long-term players? And finally, once a candidate or small group of candidates has been selected, is the process leading up to an offer streamlined to keep them optimistic about the opportunity, or is it a bureaucratic snail’s crawl that offers candidates several occasions to back out or be lured away? Output will always be reflective of input; therefore, it is vital that if we want to attract excited and dynamic individuals, we approach the search and hiring process with a level of optimism and excitement that encourages the results we want to see.

The Eleventh Hour Part 4:  Investing in Education

The Eleventh Hour Part 4: Investing in Education

As we look to close our four-part series on talent-shortage crisis, we begin to look forward to better understand what the insurance industry can do to combat the impending deficiency of qualified leaders and personnel. To recap the major points of our Eleventh Hour series:  baby boomers are retiring en masse, leaving a large hole in leadership; millennials are opting for other career opportunities, creating an incoming talent pool that is too shallow to meet demand; while technology looks to compensate for this shortage, it introduces its own dilemma in that it exposes the insurance industry’s lack of technical talent; and generation X, which should be stepping in to fill the immediate need for leadership being opened by exiting boomers, is far too thin in terms of population to adequately meet this need. What these crises make clear is that there is an immediate need for talented professionals educated in the nuances of the industry.

The Higher Education Pipeline

One of the most optimistic areas in regards to the future of insurance talent is American higher education institutions. More American colleges continue to expand their risk management and insurance (RMI) programs. Currently, only 51 colleges offer a version of the RMI program. Graduates of these programs enjoy a high rate of employment, with the top schools boasting virtually 100% employment rates. While this is highly encouraging, the current graduation rate looks to only meet 10-15% of the insurance talent needs.

Learning on the Job

While institutions of higher learning grow their RMI programs, there is still an enormous dearth of talent in terms of meeting the rising demand. This is where a certain amount of burden falls to the insurance industry to promote educational opportunities from within. In the past we’ve referred to Tony Cañas and Carly Burnham’s book Insuring Tomorrow:  Engaging Millennials in the Insurance Industry. In this book Tony recalls the insurance companies of yore that offered incredible training opportunities for incoming employees. The insurance industry needs to more adequately prepare its current and incoming talent in order to effectively transition new leadership.

Meeting the Future

There is a clear gap in the acknowledgment of the industry’s growing shortage. As boomers continue to collect their gold watch and ride off into the sunset (or toward the Sunshine State), the demand for highly qualified and experienced leaders grows. But that demand is not reciprocated with a flourishing market. There comes a point when the industry must realize that the tree of leadership has long been picked, and it is time to grow a new generation of leaders. Companies must become creative and visionary, not looking for proven leaders, but instead looking for proven talent with leadership qualities.

The most difficult bridge to gap may be that of understanding. Recognizing there is a real and immediate dilemma is half the battle. The other half is responding. What we are already finding is that the most forward-thinking companies are already searching for tomorrow’s leaders in insurance. The talent pool of experienced leaders is not only shrinking, it’s all but dry, and many companies are engaging staffing experts, like The James Allen Company, with industry knowledge and experience. They leverage their experience to procure and place exceptional talent. We seek to truly understand our client companies and find future leaders that not only have the potential to provide long term success but also prove to be an immediate cultural fit. The best way to stay in front of the crisis is to partner with dedicated professionals with the experience to weather the storm.

The Eleventh Hour Part 3: The Experience Gap

The Eleventh Hour Part 3: The Experience Gap

We have discussed how the three primary generations that comprise the pool of insurance industry talent (baby boomers, generation x and millennials) each present a unique problem in terms of the workforce. In part two we continued to explore how betting on technology to compensate for dwindling manpower could be nothing more than wishful thinking. Now, as we enter part three of our four-part series, we focus at another growing epidemic that is proving to be just as confounding as the generational and technological dilemmas. While the shortage of incoming talent is a clear problem facing the industry, the looming experience gap threatens to weaken the core of the insurance hierarchy. In this article we lay out the reasons behind this gap and how it resonates at all levels of the industry.

The “Donut Hole Gap”

As has been previously covered, the talent crisis in the industry is most directly being spurred by the mass retirement of the baby boomers who monopolize not only the executive and management sectors of the industry, but nearly all levels of talent in the insurance ecosystem. What their exodus does is expose the absence of insurance professionals between the ages of 35 and 45. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as the “donut hole gap,” represents the already slim field of Gen Xers that are expected to inherit the executive mantle. As more boomers leave, the next generation of leadership proves to be too shallow to allow for an adequate transition.

A Numbers Game

A lot of emphasis has been placed on the impact millennials are having and will continue to have on the industry, and rightfully so. The population of millennials is estimated at around 83 million, followed by baby boomers who boast a population of approximately 77 million. But the story lies in the space between those generations. Generation X has an estimated population of 65 million, which is roughly twice the difference between it and the boomer population in comparison to the difference between boomers and millennials. This population differential exposes that from the gate Generation X is not prepared to make a spot-for-spot replacement of boomers leaving the industry.

A Closer Look

The population gap is only the surface of the problem in relation to the experience gap created by Generation X. When Gen Xers were entering the insurance workforce, boomers were in full force. This pushed many Gen Xers to exit the insurance industry as they saw themselves in a career with few advancement opportunities. The effect of this Gen X departure is evident today in the insurance workforce population of those in the 35-50 age range. With a workforce population already considerably smaller than its preceding generation, a lack of advancement opportunities only further depleted the talent pool that should have served as a bridge between incoming millennials and departing boomers.

The first three parts of this series have focused on the problems of the insurance workforce as it relates to specific generational dilemmas. In the fourth and final installment of our Eleventh Hour series, we will focus on the future, discussing how the insurance industry can prepare itself for a crisis that is already at the door. What we can already say is that for companies and hiring managers looking for the next executive or mid-level manager, it is time to be open and creative to how talent is sourced for these positions.

The Eleventh Hour Part 2: The Technology Paradox

The Eleventh Hour Part 2: The Technology Paradox

In the first episode of this four part series we discussed the growing talent crisis that continues to threaten the traditional structure of the insurance industry. Specifically, we focused on the three generations that occupy the insurance talent pool and how each poses their own unique threat to the ability to meet staffing demands. The baby boomers, the most significant portion of the industry are nearing retirement, which stands to leave a vast gap in talent. Generation X (or Generation Next in terms of picking up the mantle of boomers) represents the midlevel professionals who would be expected to inherit the executive mantle from the boomers, but their population is much too small to even come close to satisfy the looming executive needs. Finally, the much-maligned Millennials have the numbers to rescue the industry from its staffing woes, but cultural clashes and a lack of interest has soured the relationship between them and the insurance world.

These concerns are considerable and only growing more so as boomers continue their mass exodus toward a much-deserved retirement. The rallying cry of optimists has become “technology,” and for good reason. According to these pro-technologists, the advancement of automation, artificial intelligence and other digital interventions within the insurance industry promises to satisfy much of the vacancies created by the loss of current professionals. This is not an unwarranted claim. According to some, technology could dissolve the need for as much as 25% of full-time insurance professionals in some markets. This combined with continued mergers and acquisitions promises consolidation and an overall reduction in staffing needs. Unfortunately, what the optimists have either missed or ignore is the dilemma technology introduces to the staffing needs of the insurance industry. We offer three separate obstacles that require attention in regards to viewing technology as a viable solution to the industry’s talent shortage.

The Numbers Don’t Add Up

From a very distant view, the elimination and consolidation of insurance positions seems to fit quite nicely with the dwindling pool of viable candidates. However, technology, while advancing at an incredible rate, is still not growing at a rate that matches the speed at which positions are being left vacant. That 25% reduction mentioned in the previous paragraph? That is over a ten-year period. That reduction becomes less encouraging when compared to the prediction of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that 50% of the current insurance workforce will be retired by 2030. That still leaves an enormous gap to be filled by a less-than-enthused base of Millennials.

Learning to Fish

The oft-quoted adage concerning giving someone a fish versus teaching them to fish is fairly applicable to the short-term solution technology offers. As we understand, technology is only gradually growing to the point of absorbing a number of positions. And as would be expected, the jobs that technology is best at are the most basic, entry-level positions. This does not solve the staffing shortage problem but only moves it a little down the road. By eliminating the entry-level workforce, we deplete the talent pool for mid-level positions in the future. The loss of these jobs to technology is clearly inevitable, but the industry will once again need to address how it will attract tomorrow’s talent.

Starting in the Red

The third obstacle presented by technology is the technology itself. The mass introduction of such industry-redefining tech will require a proportionally mass influx of qualified professionals equipped to manage and maintain these systems. This puts the insurance industry, a market already straggling to attract millennials, even further behind as it is positioned against more culture-savvy industries in vying for the best tech-oriented millennial talent.

Not only does technology not solve the most pressing staffing woes facing the industry, but it presents a new set of problems. Forward-thinking companies are partnering with recruiting professionals like The James Allen Companies to solidify their ranks with highly qualified candidates that can manage the technological transition, helping them overcome the staffing shortage. In part three of our series we will address the experience gap that threatens to deteriorate the bridge from incoming talent and rising management and executive needs.

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.

Understanding the Millennial Workforce

Understanding the Millennial Workforce

To understand the motivations of the Millennial generation is to crack one of the great codes of modern staffing. Companies across a wide variety of industries are anxious to better understand what a Millennial workforce means to their business, and the insurance industry is no exception. While there is some disagreement on the exact years by which the Millennial generation is defined, it is safe to consider individuals born anywhere between the early 1980s and late 1990s, possibly even into the early 2000s, as potential Millennials. The importance of identifying the thought processes, habits and motivations of a generation lies in the magnitude of the information. There is no larger demographic that offers a wider berth of insight than generational identification.

What’s a Millennial?

There has never before been a generational group that has faced more scrutiny in terms of identifying and understanding than the Millennials. In the world of big data and near-instant assessment, the research and information regarding Millennials seems to change almost daily. Some researchers refer to Millennials as the Peter Pan generation, referring to their propensity to delay certain rites of passage long thought to represent the transition into adulthood (i.e. marriage, career, etc.). Other researchers point to studies that suggest Millennials are more likely to exhibit narcissism than older adults, implying they are more self-indulged and self-entitled than previous generations. Still others argue that of the basic characteristics that define each generation, Millennials possess the traits that suggest they are more “civic-minded” and more similar to the G.I. Generation (also referred to as the Greatest Generation) in their sense of community.

What drives Millennials?

As the workforce of the insurance industry shifts to focus primarily on Millennials, companies are scrambling to attract the best and brightest this generation has to offer. To do this it is important to find what motivates Millennials and consider how your organization can leverage those factors in your favor. As the definition of the Millennial generation has evolved, certain elements have changed or gone entirely extinct, but two important motivating factors that have continued to apply to Millennials is their quest for growth and meaning in their work. What this means is that Millennials are interested in careers in which they feel there is real potential for advancement. Millennials are also interested in careers in which they believe they are making a difference in the world. More than past generations, Millennials look at their employment as a reflection of their civic duty. Companies that can prove to be incubators for talent and that have a forward-thinking approach are the ones that will be most attractive to Millennials.

What are some Millennial misconceptions?

There is no shortage of misconceptions when it comes to Millennials. The Peter Pan comparison has carried with it an assumed lack of motivation and work ethic. This jump in logic has led to a negative connotation surrounding the work behaviors of Millennials, thus affecting the approach of companies when interviewing them. One of the most surprising misconceptions regarding Millennials is their loyalty. Many employers see this generation as being most apt to leave a company in pursuit of other opportunities, when in fact they are more loyal to employers than Gen-Xers. Underestimating the loyalty of Millennials can create an atmosphere of mistrust, hampering the possibility for success for both employer and employee.

One final note about Millennials, which is important to consider in regards to approach, is that they are the least likely to self-identify. Where as Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have little trepidation when it comes to being referred to as their respective generational titles, Millennials largely dislike the act of being labeled. Despite being able to paint them with the same brush, to some extent, they are more responsive to being treated as individuals. It can be a bit confounding (and a bit frustrating) attracting and understanding Millennials, which is why partnering with a staffing agency like The James Allen Company is so vital. We continually read and research the literature related to not only the insurance industry, but the demographic of the people who will represent the largest portion of its workforce for the next several years.

Do you want MVPs or championship rings?

Do you want MVPs or championship rings?

For as long as sports journalists have been shoving tape recorders and microphones in the faces of successful coaches, we have been privy to their “secrets of success.” The responses have become so typical that we can recite them as if we are the Lombardis and Woodens of modern business. The responses rarely change and the secrets are hardly clandestine because the elements of success are pretty obvious:  talent, hard work and a team-first mentality. Each of those elements on their own can be helpful, but rarely do they translate into wins unless they work together. Staying ahead of the competition means delivering on all three levels, but what is the best way to maximize the opportunity for success in each area?

Talent

Think of the most naturally gifted athletes you’ve observed. They appear to be working hard, and they probably are, but they don’t seem exhausted. When the other players around them begin to lose their step, they step up. Talent is easy to recognize but hard to find. It’s also difficult to define. There’s a reason the most successful sports organizations in the world do not rely solely on their own inner office to discover and attract fresh talent. The scouting industry is a vital component to the efforts of championship teams. Having people who specialize in uncovering and attaining talent is the most effective way to ensure you have access to those individuals who rise above the crowd.

Hard Work

For as many talented individuals who have found success, there are far more who seemed to have that x-factor but never maximized their potential. Whether it was personal failures, injuries or other circumstances, for every Michael Jordon there is a Kwame Brown or Sam Bowie. What is more frustrating is when we watch players with loads of talent squander it because they’ve reached a level where they have to work in order to stay ahead and they just fail to do so. Talent alone isn’t enough if it’s not coupled with work ethic. This hearkens back to the benefit of a talent scout. They not only calculate the hardline statistics that signify talent, but they get to know the players they scout to better understand their drive and determination.

Team-first Mentality

The Patriots, the Yankees, the Bulls. These teams have exemplified what it takes to create a dynasty. They find talent that other teams either look over or under-utilize. They work harder than everyone else. And they concern themselves with team success over individual success. What we find when we examine these teams is that by focusing on team success, they found individual success. Talent rises higher when there is a great team around them to lift them farther up. This takes sacrifice, but sacrifice now means greater success later.

As executive recruiters specializing in the insurance industry, we at The James Allen Companies pride ourselves in finding talent that not only has the individual potential for success but also shows the greatest promise for making your organization better. We believe in continued success for everyone, and we know that everyone succeeds when talent fits with the team you’ve already cultivated. We are experts in locating and attracting candidates who would rather win championships than MVPs. We do this by sourcing and understanding individuals who have the talent, a proven history of hard work, and a team-first mentality.