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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.

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.

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.

The High Price of the Perfect Candidate

We’re all familiar with the adage, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but as is the nature of clichés, they are so overused we sometimes lose sight of the inherent wisdom that made them clichés in the first place. As companies set out in search of their next employee, they set their sights high and hold out hope that this next hire will be the master-of-all-trades at an entry-level cost. While they may not always be quite so farfetched with their hopes, too often we see clients lose out on excellent candidates because they believe that the next great employee is just around the corner. It may seem as though passing on a candidate in hopes a more perfect option presents itself is of little consequence, but passing over good candidates can be costly. Let’s discuss the three areas in which extending the search process can cost you:

Money

The most immediate and obvious effect of failing to secure candidate is the expense. Depending on the position, failing to have a candidate in place can mean you are failing to meet a level of productivity needed for growth and success. The longer you hold out for a candidate that may not even exist, the longer you extend the loss of productivity and the subsequent revenue that would accompany the productivity.

Morale

A question many fail to consider is this:  Is holding out for the perfect candidate worth the potential losses associated with a decline in team morale? If you have a particular positional need, it is likely your current staff is compensating for this need. The longer these employees feel as though they are taking the brunt of a labor shortage, the more demoralizing this can become. This ties in with the previous point of the financial effect, as a combination of a team stretched thin and waning endurance can amplify the cost of waiting for the perfect candidate.

The Bird in the Hand

Today’s market is more favorable to the job seeker. A disappointing reality is when a client realizes the candidate we originally presented is the superior choice, and they contact us to reestablish a connection, only to find that candidate is no longer on the market. Once a candidate is made aware of new prospects, they are less inhibited. This makes it very easy for your competition to swoop in and secure the talent you let walk, all in the hope that the perfect candidate would appear.

There are a couple things client companies can do to better analyze their staffing needs and weigh the risks of waiting for employees that may never come:

Talent on the Rise

Partner with a recruiter that understands your specific industry and has an eye for talent potential. Securing tomorrow’s best candidates today can be the best investment your company makes. Perhaps a candidate does not have the exact experience that you desire, but they have a combination of experiences that strongly suggests they could excel. Stepping out to meet these candidates may seem risky, but it is far less risky than leaving a gap in your staffing.

Find the Best Fit

A great resource when it comes to assessing a presented candidate is your existing staff. Look at your best employees and measure them against your ideal candidate. What you will find is that even your best employees no doubt came to you with room for improvement. Taking the time to consider the unique talents of your team will give you valuable perspective. It also gives you the opportunity to determine what might be missing in your staff, thus focusing how you measure prospective candidates. You may never find the perfect candidate, but with a strong recruiting partner and an assessment of your team, you can very well find the perfect fit.

Finding the right talent means finding the right recruiter

Finding the right talent means finding the right recruiter

If you’ve been in involved in multiple talent searches, then you know that each search is different. From the types of positions in need to the pool of candidates created, there is no perfect template that simplifies the search process and distills it into a one-size-fits-all operation. And if you have had your share of hiring experience, then you also know that the search for uniquely qualified candidates can be consuming of both your time and financial resources. It is no surprise many organizations turn to recruiters to assist with staffing needs, but what is startling is the number of hiring managers who don’t make the one-time investment of time to partner with the right recruiter. Finding the most fitting staffing specialist goes beyond the one or two open positions sitting in front of you. When the right recruiter is selected, the potential savings of time and money from future hires offers exponential value. The question many employers may have is as follows:  How do I know if I’m choosing the right recruiter?

Relationships

Quality recruiting firms approach clients in the same way the most successful organizations approach staffing agencies, with the intention of forming a strong partnership based on trust and mutual respect. Relationships are as unique as the parties involved, and the relationship between a recruiter and client has its own set of needs that both sides should satisfy to prove their commitment. For recruiters, they are searching for clients who display integrity and openness. But what should employers look for in a recruiter?

  • Look for a recruiter that not only delivers on candidates who fit the defined requirements of a company’s position, but also provide the intangible qualities that prove they are a culture-fit for the organization. This takes a recruiter who not only reads the job posting, but listens to their client to better understand their unique values.
  • The right recruiter doesn’t find value in simply making a placement but in knowing their placement is delivering on the promises made. Commitment beyond the agreement shows a recruiter is truly invested in a company’s success, thus truly invested in the relationship.
  • Throughout the search process, the right recruiter consistently provides value-based services. Going beyond delivering a list of candidates, invested recruiters work with their clients to ensure the best applicant is selected. They offer clients the insight they need to attract the talent they want.

Industry Knowledge

We often have a better understanding of the things we care about. We commit more time and energy into things in which we feel truly vested. The right recruiter should care about not only making placements but about making the right placements. In order to make the right placement, the right recruiter should have clear and discernible insight into two industries: theirs and yours.

  • As you are no doubt invested in the best practices for your particular business, a quality staffing specialist needs to be devoted to their craft. The right recruiter is rarely the least expensive recruiter. Instead of offering their services below market value, a reputable recruiter knows the value in their services and can speak to them with clarity and competency.
  • Additionally, the right recruiter is often one that specializes in your industry. Either through years of research or direct experience within your specific field, the recruiter that stands the best chance of meeting your needs is the one who truly understands them. Established niche recruiters survive and succeed because they know more than how to find candidates, but they know how to find candidates who truly understand and are invested in the industry in which they serve.

Whatever your industry and staffing needs may be, you are best served in both the short and long term by fostering a strong relationship with a recruiter who is committed to your success and has the experience, both in your industry and as a recruiter, to provide that relationship what it needs to flourish. At The James Allen Companies, we know this to be true. With direct experience in the insurance industry and as search consultants, we have continually proven ourselves to be the right recruiter for insurance companies across the nation.

What Wayne Gretzky’s father teaches us about securing talent

What Wayne Gretzky’s father teaches us about securing talent

Walter Gretzky famously taught his son to “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Once his son became known as possibly the greatest hockey player of all time, this quote became elevated to an idiom of philosophical proportions. And for good reason. Gretzky’s advice was simple, clear and applicable to much more than the game of hockey. As recruiters, we are always trying to stay ahead of our clients’ needs, staying connected with highly-qualified candidates keeping ourselves informed on industry trends, all so that when a client comes to us with a need, we are already prepared with a bevy of talented individuals. But in what ways can you as hiring managers skate to where the puck is going as opposed to where it’s been?

Anticipate your talent needs

A staffing specialist is a great resource when your company needs to be reactive to a hiring need. They are an even greater asset when they can work with you proactively. Staffing is a business built on relationships, and if your company foresees openings within different departments and for different positions, an experienced recruiter can begin to sift through the pool of candidates, engaging those that could prove to be fruitful prospects. This amplifies the value of having a strong relationship with an industry-specific recruiter. They work to truly understand the nuances of your business, so that when a hiring need does arise, expectedly or otherwise, they are prepared to deliver candidates that not only match the desired qualifications but also the culture of your company. They have their finger on the pulse of talent and can move you to where the puck is going to be before it even starts moving.

Skate to where the talent is going

The best talent will only move laterally so often, and unless you are offering intrinsic value that is unmatched, those candidates are far less likely to leave their company for a lateral move. In fact, while 89% of employees would consider a lateral move within their company, only 27% would consider a lateral move to a different employer. So when you are looking for your next underwriting manager or claims manager, be prepared to consider talented and established candidates for whom these roles could be seen as a step up. The earlier you secure this talent, the better chance you have of retaining it. If you’re too hesitant to put yourself in position to receive this talent, someone else will, leaving your company to play catch up in the talent game.

Outhustle the competition

As we’ve already established, you’re not the only team occupying the skating rink, and you’re not the only skater on the ice. Talent is a finite source, and other companies are anxious to capitalize on it. If you’ve made the moves necessary to get in position (requested necessary documents, scheduled interviews), then you’re headed in the right direction. But if you’re hesitant to take the shot, then be prepared to lose that talent to a competitor. If the pieces fit, it is not the time to hold out for a better shot or try and put yourself in a more favorable position. Basically, to end on another infamous Gretzky quote, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”