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Getting the Most Out of Your Recruiter:  Capitalizing on a Candidate’s Market

Getting the Most Out of Your Recruiter: Capitalizing on a Candidate’s Market

In our first installment of this three-part series focusing on the advantages of a quality recruiter for candidates we took you to the end of the process:  counteroffers. We did this for a number of reasons. Counteroffers are historically and statistically a detriment to the candidate. They serve as little more than an insult from a current employer who is likely doing what they can to retain an employee long enough to find their replacement. Accepting a counteroffer is also a quick way to irreparably damage one’s reputation, sending the message to the current employer, the prospective company and the recruiter that a candidate lacks integrity and honesty. Another reason why accepting a counteroffer can prove to be counterproductive is what brings us to this, our second installment on Getting the Most Out of Your Recruiter.

 

THE MARKET SHOULD MOVE YOU FORWARD

It’s little mystery that today’s insurance job market is candidate driven; however, it is this type of environment that can allow candidates to become a little too complacent. A candidate-driven market is not enough on its own to put insurance professionals on the fast track to success and upward mobility. Using the rising demand for talent as a lever within your current company is an enormous misstep, as it relates to the market. There are undoubtedly great opportunities out there for talented professionals with the dedication and drive to capitalize and further their careers. That being said, it makes little sense to use those opportunities as empty threats to pressure your current employer into offering a little more salary.

 

THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

With a candidate-driven market you will likely find many qualifying opportunities. Perhaps too many. This is really where one begins to appreciate the value of an experienced and knowledgeable recruiter. Understanding markets and knowing companies is their profession. Tasking yourself with evaluating multiple opportunities while balancing your current responsibilities can be more than difficult, it can be impossible. Working with a recruiter entrenched in the insurance industry provides you with a perspective that can focus your search and help you connect with an organization that can truly offer you the ability to maximize your career potential.

 

A CHANCE TO STAND APART

While every other candidate is relying on the market to do the work for them, these are the conditions in which the best can truly separate themselves from the pack. The market is like a current that has potential to carry candidates down the river, but those with the tenacity to still swim will find that they will go much farther, much faster. So how does one swim with the current? Many candidates approach this market with a “what’s in it for me” mentality. Imagine the refreshing shock potential employers will experience when they interview individuals who show up prepared, professional and interested in how they can help the company. Organizations will cling tightly and reward dearly those forward-thinking professionals who exhibit the willingness and the aptitude to go above and beyond regardless of what the job market dictates.

 

At The James Allen Companies, we have long been helping great people connect with great organizations in all job climates. We bring years of real industry experience and recruiting expertise to the table, which carries a great deal of weight with the clients for whom we recruit. The insurance job market today is positioned in such a way that candidates who are savvy enough to utilize the services and commit to the advice of experienced recruiters can enjoy success like never before.

Getting the Most out of Your Recruiter:  Understanding Counteroffers

Getting the Most out of Your Recruiter: Understanding Counteroffers

If you are potentially open to exploring new opportunities, a recruiter can be a valuable, if not vital, ally. The benefits of a dedicated recruiter go beyond providing access to options, which in and of itself is a hefty benefit. A quality recruiting professional can provide the resources and recommendations to help you stand apart from other applicants, and they do this at no charge to you. To provide candidates with a better understanding of how recruiters can help them, we have developed this series to present three unique perspectives of the job search and hiring process and how a recruiter can help you overcome obstacles and create opportunities. We will discuss everything from better understanding how the overall insurance market is ideal for dedicated and driven professionals to elevate their careers to the importance of communication throughout the process. While this series does not entirely encompass the total value of a recruiter, it should provide you with a greater understanding of their necessity throughout the process.

 

In his bestselling work The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey urged his readers to “begin with the end in mind,” and that’s what we’d like to do in this series, which is why we open with one of the final hurdles of the hiring process:  counteroffers. The topic of counteroffers is an apt one because it should serve as a reminder of why you began the process, and why it is important to understand a counteroffer for what it really is.

 

WHY ARE YOU POTENTIALLY OPEN TO A CHANGE?

At The James Allen Companies, when we approach a potential candidate with an opportunity, we are interested to know what factors are important in a new opportunity. Salary is only one component but it can’t be the sole reason for considering a change. In the full spirit of disclosure, we are exceedingly hesitant to work with individuals whose only driving force is a better salary. We are looking for dedicated and driven professionals who have the vision to look beyond salary and consider other cultural and professional factors. If we feel that your aspirations and attributes are a match with our client, then we help facilitate and navigate the process. If the process culminates in an offer, then you may have to contend with a counteroffer. If a counteroffer occurs, it creates an opportunity to reflect on why you chose to seek out and accept a new position with a new company. It is also a good time to refresh yourself on the truth and consequences regarding counteroffers.

 

A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

Before going any further, it’s imperative to see a counteroffer for what it really is. Keep in mind that at this point you have accepted an offer from a company excited to bring you on board. The counteroffer is presented when you tender your resignation for your current company. In reality, the counteroffer is an insult, a last-ditch effort to save the company from an inconvenience. Loyalty is vital, and a counteroffer is the opposite of loyalty. It’s an act of desperation that your former employer will use to allow themselves more time to find your replacement. To accept a counteroffer is to sacrifice more than a great opportunity, but it is to sacrifice your reputation, and all for an empty gesture that will most assuredly end poorly.

 

WHAT IF YOU ACCEPT THE COUNTEROFFER?

If you were to accept a counteroffer from your current employer what can you reasonably expect to change other than your salary? If you’re lucky, nothing will change, but statistics suggest you probably won’t be that lucky. According to numerous industry reports, 70 to 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year. Either you discover that the same reasons that led you to seek new opportunities persist and you find yourself back on the hunt (only now, most likely, with one less option since the company whose offer you rejected in favor of the counteroffer is likely no longer interested), or your company retains you long enough so that they can seek out your replacement. Even if you are one of the 20 to 30 percent of people who make it beyond that year, how will you handle future negotiations? How do you think you will be received in future negotiations? Accepting a counteroffer doesn’t move you forward but only keeps you mired in the past.

 

If the only way to inspire your company to reward you is through the threat of accepting a new offer, is this the kind of company in which you really have a future? You sacrifice more than just a new opportunity when you accept a counteroffer. You sacrifice your reputation with your current employer, other companies and recruiters. Ultimately, a counteroffer is never going to take into account the most important reasons for seeking out a new opportunity. A counteroffer is not going to improve your professional ambitions. It is not going to improve your career. What it should do, however, is remind you why you chose to move on in the first place, and why you’ve made the right choice.

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Ways

How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Ways

Are you worried about attracting great professionals? Are you concerned that your hiring process might be making too positive of an impression on potential hires? Cast your worries aside. If you think you might be at risk of getting dynamic and talented individuals excited about your organization, The James Allen Companies has curated a list of the 10 most surefire ways you can drive away the best and brightest and keep your company from competing at the highest levels. Even for companies striving to grow and succeed by hiring great candidates, the list stands as a reminder of the mistakes that can cost your organization a chance at the best passive talent.

 

  1. Take Your Time

    When we search for candidates for our clients, we look for the most impressive passive talent that truly matches the opportunity and your organization’s culture. So when we present these proven professionals to you, be sure to stretch out your interview process for as long as possible. Nothing tells a highly qualified candidate that you couldn’t be less interested in them or more incompetent than draining every last bit of energy they have for your opportunity. An added bonus is that they may tell their colleagues how drawn out and painful your interview process was, ensuring that you’ll lose out on attracting other talented professionals.

  2. Assume They’re Jobless

    As we said, we seek out passive talent who are too focused on succeeding to be active in the job market. These individuals are employed and successful, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat them that way! If you want to drive away a great fit, there’s nothing quite as effective as making them feel like they should be thanking you for even taking the time to talk with them. Make sure you let them know early and often that they’re lucky to even have a chance at your opportunity, regardless of their past and present successes.

  3. Make ‘Em an Offer They CAN Refuse

    So you’ve been dragging out the interview process. You’ve made it clear that you believe you are their only hope in ever finding gainful employment (regardless of the fact they are already employed). But they’re still listening? Now it’s time to play hardball. If they haven’t figured out just how little you think of them, nothing sends the message of how little you value great talent by putting a paltry price tag on them. If you know what they’re making, offer them less. That’ll show them what you think they’re really worth.

  4. What’s Better Than One Great Passive Candidate?

    Ten mediocre active candidates! We have stressed in the past that the best and brightest candidates are most often those that are currently employed and not actively seeking new opportunities. The easiest way to discourage these great individuals is to bypass them altogether. By sticking to unhappy and underqualified applicants, you’ll avoid the exhausting work of scaring away impressive passive candidates.

  5. Put Them in the Pile

    Just because these great passive candidates didn’t come to you like the average applicant doesn’t mean you can’t treat them like any Joe Schmoe off the street. Sure, they aren’t even actively pursuing new opportunities, but by telling them to fill out an application before you’ll even consider speaking with them, you are all but ensuring they remember why they dislike the entire process, sending them back to the arms of their current employer.

  6. Resumes: Interviews For Dummies

    One expert solution to reducing passive candidates to nothing more than a faceless name is to distill them down to a single sheet of paper. Taking a three-dimensional professional and basing your entire perception of them on a two-dimensional piece of paper is an excellent way to keep them disenchanted and in the dark. Remember, there’s nothing a candidate can tell you about their vast experiences that you can’t learn from a few brief lines of text on a resume.

  7. “Why Do You Want to Work With Us?”

    Let’s not forget these passive candidates weren’t looking for a new career. They certainly weren’t looking for you. They may not even know anything about you or your organization. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from making it very clear that they are very lucky to have an audience with you. If you want to take this strategy up a notch, passively imply you don’t think they’re quite qualified while also dismissing their credentials.

  8. Keep Them Waiting

    Don’t limit yourself to only delaying the overall process of interviewing and making a decision. Take every opportunity to keep candidates waiting, apprehensive and uncomfortable. A key moment to express just how disinterested you are in a passive candidate comes at the interview. If you have the interview scheduled for 9:00 A.M., the candidate will most likely be there early. Keep them waiting until about 9:20 just to give them adequate time to really question your culture and begin reconsidering the opportunity altogether.

  9. Make it About the Money

    The best professionals in the industry are serious about what they do and they do it well, which is why you will want to ignore everything about the opportunity and cut straight to the chase. Keep it general and talk primarily about the financial reasons. If they’re only there for the money, then it’s only a matter of time before they leave again. And then you get to start the whole process over! This is a really great tip for not only pushing away serious individuals but for also landing employees who are only motivated by the most superficial factors.

  10. Candidates are Mushrooms…

    So feed them crap and keep them in the dark. A common theme among our tips is making them wait, and then making them wait a little longer. The best time to keep them out of the loop is after the interview. They are going to be eager to know how it went, which is why you want to withhold that feedback for as long as possible. And when you do provide it, keep it vague and noncommittal.

 

In all seriousness, we know you want the most talented and driven candidates that truly connect with your company’s mission and culture. We also know that an applicant being active and/or unemployed should not immediately discount that individual’s potential; however, the best candidates are usually the ones not currently seeking new opportunities. It then stands to reason that they are going to be the ones most easily turned off or discouraged by unnecessary delays and apparent disinterest. If you are interested in landing the best passive talent, like the professionals presented by The James Allen Companies, be sure to NOT follow the aforementioned tips.

Why Passive Candidates Are Like Bananas

Why Passive Candidates Are Like Bananas

When referring to the candidate market, the term market is often used in relation to candidates as a commodity, but the more traditional definition of the word as it pertains to a store is also applicable. To run with this analogy, we have to think about candidates as products, but we also have to be careful to not lose track that unlike typical products on a store shelf, candidates aren’t simply there for the taking. They are in greater control of their destiny than a bag of chips or a case of water. Unfortunately, too many prospective employers misunderstand the candidate market and cost themselves exceptional professionals in a market where the shelves are not so easily replenished.

 

Candidates Have a Shelf Life

Candidates aren’t canned goods. They aren’t going to sit on the shelf forever. In the words of a fellow recruiter, when it comes to explaining “the lifespan of a person’s psychological excitement when approached with an exciting career opportunity,” candidates are like bananas. After about a week on the shelf, bananas have passed the threshold for most people’s taste preference. When searching for talented professionals to meet your staffing needs, it’s important to understand that the best are not products filling the shelves. The best candidates aren’t really candidates at all. They are passive talent. Fresh and handpicked. Like the freshest produce at your local market, these professionals are only going to remain ripe for your opportunity for a limited time.

 

Supplies Are Limited

It takes extensive experience and a concerted effort to locate the best passive talent to match the unique needs of an organization and specific opportunity. Our experience has proven that the best are rarely already on the shelf, and they are even less likely to remain available after they’ve been given the chance to consider new opportunities. As we’ve already established, passive candidates have short shelf lives. It’s equally important to understand that there isn’t a deep back stock of candidates with the right combination of qualifications and culture like those we present to our clients. If you allow a candidate’s interest to expire, don’t be surprised to not find another as talented or as qualified.

 

Beware Other Shoppers

When professionals are recruited for specific opportunities, it’s important to keep them focused on the client for whom they have been sourced. But this is where the market analogy begins to break down, because as much as we can make these comparisons, candidates aren’t products, they’re people, and when people are made aware of one opportunity, it isn’t long until they grow curious about other opportunities. The goal is to encourage smooth and seamless processes that keep candidates excited about the specific opportunity, but there is only so much that can be done to maintain their interest. In the end it is not the candidate, but your opportunity that becomes the banana, and the longer they wait the more sour it becomes to them.

 

Ultimately, the market works both ways. Candidates have expiration dates, but so do opportunities. When a passive candidate moves past their expiration date, they either move back into the comfort zone of their current position or they move on to a newer opportunity. When an opportunity reaches its expiration date, it loses out on the best talent and either settles on less-qualified candidates or remains vacant, both of which can be a strain on the resources of an organization. Passive candidates have an exceptionally short life cycle and positions that are open too long quickly become less appealing to more discerning talent. At The James Allen Companies, we rely on years of experience and extensive sourcing to locate and present our clients with the most relevant passive talent. Our efforts uncover professionals that have the skills and background needed to not only fit the needs of the opportunity but also the culture of the organization. Often, the vital difference as to whether or not our clients are successful depends on how aggressively they move on the talent we present.

Weathering the Talent Storm

Weathering the Talent Storm

In 2017, we sounded the alarm bell regarding the impending talent shortage that is to be a result of the massive retirement of Baby Boomers. By October of that year, according to data collected by Pew Research and the Social Security Administration, Boomers were entering retirement at a rate of 10,000 individuals a day. That is an astounding number, and it is not even close to slowing. In our Eleventh Hour series, we outlined the dire future for the face of insurance talent. In the opening article of that four-part report, we touched upon one statistic that estimated around 25% of industry professionals would be retired by 2018 and that by 2020 the industry could likely face nearly half a million vacancies. If the storm is upon us, we most likely have not even reached its eye. Now is the time to begin assessing the loss that is probably already occurring and is going to continue, as well as how your organization can not only weather the storm but find a way to succeed in spite of it.

 

Loss You Can’t Control

Burying one’s head in the metaphorical sand may be a good way to drown out the maelstrom of today’s talent climate, but it makes it impossible to make an honest assessment of the loss that is already occurred and develop strategies to counter that loss and defend against future vacancies. The first step is to accept the things we cannot change. Baby Boomers are retiring, and they’ve earned that retirement, so disregard any notion of trying to retain them because that’s only a bandage on a gaping wound. Whether it is today, tomorrow or two years from now, the most substantial sector of industry talent is packing their bags, and they’re not coming back. Now is the time to display to your upcoming talent how your organization honors and respects the years of service they’ve given your company. You may not be able to keep them, but you can make a lasting impression on younger generations in the way you help them exit.

 

Loss You Can Mitigate

If you’ve been proactive enough to keep your head out of the sand, then you are already headed in the right direction. If you are giving the appropriate attention to the exodus of Boomers, then you are doing even better, but be wary that while your back is turned, other companies are taking this opportunity to siphon away your next generation of leaders. There’s a reason why, when speaking about today’s talent climate, experts use words like “crisis” and “dilemma.” This is a storm that has not only ripped a hole in the front of the vessel, but it has also cut an opening in the back of the ship, causing you to incur losses from the bow and stern. While a portion of the loss is inevitable, there are measures that can be taken to improve retention of the valuable talent that is waiting in the wings. It’s important to note that when your competitors come for your upcoming talent, they aren’t going after your more disgruntled staff who are submitting to job boards and filling out online applications. Your competitors are using all means at their disposal to target your best and brightest employees. These professionals are ones you cannot afford to lose, and the ones most in your power to keep. As previously mentioned, the way you express your appreciation of your retiring professionals can send a strong message to your younger talent about the intrinsic value of your company. Efforts to promote retention can also have the added effect of attracting the new talent your organization will absolutely need to move forward.

 

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Regardless of how incredible your retention efforts are, there is not enough talent on your bench to compensate for the inevitable losses that are occurring and will continue to occur over the next several years. Even the deepest benches will be exhausted either through promotion or losses to hungry competitors willing to do whatever it takes to replenish their own talent needs. Storms deplete resources, and this storm is no different. As we already mentioned, strong retention efforts can simultaneously increase the intrinsic value of your organization, attracting new professionals with the promise to help your company weather the storm. An added benefit of being proactive and acquiring high-quality professionals sooner rather than later is that it improves the overall atmosphere of your work environment, increasing your odds of retaining the talent you already have. Addressing your talent concerns early allows you to not only survive the storm, but it gives you the advantage to thrive during it. This means greater success now and in the future for your organization, and there is perhaps no better retention tool and talent magnet than success.

 

The James Allen Companies has been long studying the impending Baby Boomer exodus. Our research and extensive experience has allowed us to help a number of clients address the talent shortage that is already affecting the insurance industry as a whole. We are interested in doing more than filling vacancies. Our efforts allow us to deliver exceptional passive candidates, candidates who, like your best, are not actively seeking new opportunities because they are too busy producing results. We work with clients with the intention of promoting their success now and in the future. If you are ready to prep your business for the talent storm by hiring the most sought after professionals in the industry, contact The James Allen Companies today.

Retained-Like Services on a Contingency Basis

Retained-Like Services on a Contingency Basis

The James Allen Companies has established a reputation of quality and integrity within the insurance industry and has done so by presenting companies with highly qualified professionals quickly and effectively. In our constant efforts to provide exceptional service, we explored the search solutions of several competitors and were surprised to discover that while we also offer outstanding retained and contained services, our contingency offerings were much more aligned with the level of service many firms identify as retained. We quickly realized that we offer retained-like services but on a contingency basis. Unfortunately, this has somewhat unfairly placed us in the same space as other contingency firms that offer a diluted product, so we set out to create a summation of what retained service looks like and how the contingency search of The James Allen Companies is more closely associated with retained searches, in terms of quality and dedication.

 

The most identifiable difference between our contingency services and the retained offerings of other firms is the fee structure. Whereas traditional retained services not only typically charge a higher fee, they also require a portion of that fee (usually one-third) upfront to engage the service and another portion (another third) of the fee at a set point within the process. Before a candidate is even placed, most retained options will have charged a client nearly 70 percent of the total fee. Our contingency option requires no initial commitment fee, and a charge is only incurred upon successful completion of the search. Aside from differences in fee system, we outlined five of the leading value propositions of retained firms and addressed how we at The James Allen Companies provide these same values on a contingency basis.

 

  1. Exclusivity
    Many retained firms will attest to the fact that the candidates they source for you are not shopped to other clients. We approach the search process with the same exclusivity, seeking the best candidates for specific opportunities.
  2. Timeliness
    We approach each job order with the expediency and dedication required to locate and attract the most talented professionals. Our contingency model actually serves as a motivating factor to exceed our clients’ needs and expectations.
  3. Passive Candidates
    A common implication of retained search is that this service is the only way to connect with top candidates who aren’t actively looking for an opportunity. We rarely work with active candidates, focusing primarily on the passive talent that stands to best serve our clients.
  4. Expertise
    We bring real and relevant insurance and staffing experience to each search. With a deep history in the industry, we truly understand what companies need in order to succeed and we know how to deliver on those needs.
  5. Guarantee
    Retained firms will often toss around the assurance of a guarantee to solidify the superiority of their services; however, The James Allen Companies is committed to the success of the candidates we place, which is why we too offer a guarantee on our placements.

 

If you are currently exploring the services of an insurance-specific recruiting firm, we challenge you to contact us and discover how we can provide the same level of service on a contingency basis. Perhaps you have had past experience with the contingency options of firms that reflect a less knowledgeable approach that lacks the dedication and resources your organization needs to find the best talent. What we believe you will find, however, at The James Allen Companies is that we believe in always providing our clients with exceptional solutions that are designed to place top professionals that meet their technical and cultural needs, regardless of the label associated with the search option they choose.

Our Last Word on Millennials

Our Last Word on Millennials

The end of 2017 is fast approaching, and as the year closes, we feel it is time to close the book on one particular topic that has dominated the hiring conversation for the past few years:  Millennials. We don’t expect this article to be the final word on the place of Millennials in the workplace, but it will be the final word for us. The time to debate just how terrible or great Millennials are is over. They are fast approaching the majority as the workforce. According to a study conducted by IBM, by 2020 Millennials will comprise 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. By 2030 they will represent 75 percent of the workforce. The time for pontificating over every outlandish claim that Millennials want to work solely from the comfort of their studio apartments or commute to their jobs in eco-friendly, refurbished Ferris wheels that are fueled by compost and hopes is over. Millennials are not the future of the workforce; they are the present, and it’s going to be okay.

 

In reference to the aforementioned IBM study, the insight and statistics provided are a sound representation of the myths versus the realities of the Millennial workforce, but it is also important to the context of this article to remind you that the study was conducted in the summer of 2014. At this time the age group for Millennials as prescribed by the study was 21-34. This means that by next summer, Millennials will be represented by individuals in the 25-38 age range. By the summer of 2020, when Millennials will be hitting 50 percent of the workforce, some of them will also be hitting 40 years old.

 

The goal with this, our last word on Millennials, is to confront a few of the enduring myths and, through the context of the IBM study, dispel them. While the study was a broad endeavor spanning 6 industries, the stereotypes and concerns addressed mirror those we have fielded within the insurance industry.

 

Millennials want different things from a career than older generations

Despite the insistence that Millennials are out to completely undermine or revolutionize the very concept of work, the research suggests otherwise. In fact, in regards to career goals, Millennials and Baby Boomers are almost identical in what they feel is important. Among the top goals for these two groups is to work for leading organizations and make a positive impact within that organization. If any generation is an outlier in terms of career goals, it is Generation X, who, at the time of the study, was comprised of individuals falling within the 35-49 age range.

 

Everyone should get a trophy

This has become the motto of cynics everywhere in regards to Millennials. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t bode well in the face of the data. Millennials appear to be more concerned with working for leaders who value transparency and dependability rather than leaders who heap praise on their subordinates. While Millennials are more likely to value recognition than Generation X or Baby Boomers, the importance of this has been greatly exaggerated. Accolades are far less important to Millennials than fair treatment.

 

Millennials are eager to jump ship

Like every other generation in the workforce, Millennials strive for upward mobility within their career. They want to be able to grow and develop into roles that offer greater challenges as well as greater rewards. Are Millennials susceptible to making an organizational shift for their benefit? Yes, but no more than any other generation. In fact, individuals belonging to Generation X are more likely to change jobs for reasons of finance or passion than Millennials. The itinerant nature of Millennials seems to be more a product of the economic times rather than an internal desire to change jobs.

 

If Millennials are the future of the workforce, then the future was yesterday. But really, the most important thing to concentrate on when interviewing Millennials, or Gen-Xers, or Baby Boomers (and yes, you should be considering applicants from all these generations) is that they aren’t just a Millennial or a Gen-Xer or a Baby boomer. They are an individual, and if you interview well and listen closely, you might just learn what it is they are looking for, not as a member of some generational group, but as a person.

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.

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.