Attracting the Attractive

Where we have extended our time horizon for talent identification and are sending scouts to waterholes and have found interesting individuals, how do we draw them to our industry and organization? As our scouting efforts find success, our role transitions to recruiting. We want to draw those we’ve identified as potential performers to us. Recruiting becomes like a romance. How do we attract the attractive? Sidling up to them and offering, “Hey, how are you doing?” isn’t going to cut it. It’s now up to us to showcase our skills and strengths to prospective candidates. Sure, you’re interested in them, why should they be interested in you? Our scouting efforts are finding those that may know nothing about the industry. Our targets may be perfectly content where they are. They may not be actively looking for work. How can you whet their whistle and invite intrigue towards insurance? To attract the attractive we need to make ourselves attractive to those in whom we’re interested.

It becomes our responsibility to sell the strengths of three things to those demonstrating potential. What are strengths of your industry, company, and role for potential candidates? In order for identified talent to be drawn to your organization, you must be able to offer a compelling reason for them to join you. Randy Schwantz writes about three whys that are your job to help recruits answer. In GRIT, Find, Hire, Develop Real Producers, Schwantz writes, “Why should I consider insurance when there are so many opportunities out there? Why should I consider your insurance agency? Why Should I work for you?

What are the strengths of your industry? What is good about insurance? Insurance has been around for hundreds of years. It’s a service which allows risk to be reduced. The property and casualty industry deals with insurance for stuff. It protects things of value for people and businesses. It includes things like car, home, and business insurance. It matters in every region and across industries. Over $70 billion in premiums were sold by insurers to Canadians in 2020. Premiums today represent triple the amount they were 25 years ago. These numbers will continue to grow as both our population and its asset base grow. Of the premiums charged, almost 60% go back to insureds in the form of claims. The payments represent the value insureds get from their insurance purchase. Both those that suffered a loss are having the impact of that loss lessened as well as those seeing the security and peace of mind an insurance purchase brings which is its own form of value. Insurance employed over 130,000 Canadians in 2020. The industry is a major contributor in taxes to both provinces and federal governments. Insurance is an essential industry that lies the foundation of the economic progress of a nation.

It has shown itself to be a steady, largely recession proof industry. Insurance consistently creates profitable returns and growth. Moreover, it was considered an essential service through the pandemic and government worked to allow brokerages to continue offering their services with as minimal disruption as possible. The needs of insureds continued in most parts of the economy. Insurance is tried and true. It’s been around for centuries and a future world without insurance isn’t foreseeable. It offers all kinds of opportunities in all kinds of areas. It touches any and all segments of the economy. There’s a tremendous variety of things to learn, see, and do within insurance. The average retirement age in insurance is lower than the national average. This suggests that the pay is positive relative to other industries affording participants the luxury of retiring earlier. Earlier retirement is even more noticeable at provincially run insurance organizations suggesting the benefits packages are valuable here… Moreover, the insurance industry average age tends to be a bit higher suggesting that it is prone for an exodus of retirees in the coming years. This offers the opportunity for a steep and rapid ascent within the industry for those that are young and committed to a career in the field.

Because it’s considered “traditional,” some consider it boring. As a result, it may not be first on many people’s list of career paths to pursue. Insurance may not have the glitz, cache, and pizazz that newer industries may have. However, this is a strength not a weakness as the opportunities for those starting out are greater as the competition to clamor into the industry is less. You are in demand and can project an upward career path with little experience or prerequisites. Paired with the high demand for workers is a relatively low barrier to entry. A licensing course is all that’s needed to be in a position to sell. Once in the industry, a variety of educational opportunities are available. Designations can be earned from courses that last a few months to several years. Executive MBAs with a risk management focus are also available. One can build credibility in the marketplace while working. It’s a great combination for those aspiring to advance in insurance. These benefits compound based on the reality that there are more folk retiring from the industry than entering. This has been the case for more than the past decade resulting in an abundance of opportunities for younger people to both get into the industry as well as move up the ranks. There’s a leadership void begging to be filled. Insurance is both interesting and inviting. Come join us.

How about your brokerage, what’s good about it? How will your organization appeal to candidates? Candidates are interested in much more than today’s pay cheque. This is the case the more capable a candidate may be. This is even more the case where a candidate may already be happily employed elsewhere. They need to be sold not just on the industry but on your organization. How can you convince them that your organization will provide them a brighter future than where they are now? We can look to the ideas offered by SDT or Self-determination theory to learn what the main motivators are for most of us. Autonomy, mastery, purpose, and relatedness are the drivers which resonate for most. We are interested in bringing our best selves forward in pursuit of one or more of these objectives. Another way to look at it is to consider that we’re drawn to pursue Freedom, Fun, and Fortune while finding time for our Family. If we can connect roles in our organization with the Freedom, Fun, Fortune, and Family values, we’ll move desirable people to eagerly jump on our bandwagon.

Autonomy is about the freedom one has within their role. The 4 Ts of autonomy remind us that we find freedom in choosing task, timing, technique, and team. How much flexibility will candidates have with respect to when their responsibilities must be managed? Will they have any freedom related to choosing the tasks to do? Will they determine how certain responsibilities are managed or are most tasks process driven? If working in groups, will individual team members have any input as to how workload is distributed or what teams they join? Even if the early months or years within a role don’t offer tremendous amounts of autonomy, is there a path to freedom within a role that can be shown to candidates? In terms of goals and objectives, are these imposed by management or do staff participate in setting their own objectives? If staff are involved in setting their own objectives, do meetings with management consist of management supporting the progress and achievement of these objectives as opposed to dictating the direction to take to achieve goals?

Can you give candidates a sense of what their work day will look like once they are up and running with you? What is the balance between support and autonomy your organization offers? In a sales role, for example, who is responsible for lead generation? Is it the producer or your organization? If your organization, how frequently and fairly is the distribution of leads managed? Once they are licensed and trained, are they cut loose to sink or swim on their own or are they supported? How will their efforts be managed? How frequent will their contact be with a manager and others sales staff? Are they incented to work as a team in some way or is performance evaluated individually? How flexible is the role and your organization? Are candidates allowed to work at home? Is there office space set aside for them? If they are working from home, what technology hardware and software will your organization provide? Whose responsibility is what? For example, are there some “get to’s” of a sales role in insurance? Are there attributes that are part of both the profession and your brokerage that would afford freedom to a candidate in their work day? Seek to spell these out to be as favorable as possible to the type of person that you’re seeking to attract. Detail the potential for freedom and flexibility within a work day. You can choose to work more or less. You can work weekends or evenings. You can take an afternoon off and enjoy it with your kids. You can balance being available to support your family with commitments to customers. You can pick the market you target to develop. These are all aspects of autonomy which is attractive to people.

Beyond autonomy, will candidates have the opportunity to pursue mastery in their role? Do you have a training and development program? Are you able to help new recruits to insurance prepare for their licensing exam? Can you pair them with a colleague that can help them study materials? Can you offer reimbursement for course fees either up front or once a candidate has passed the exam? Do you have supplementary materials which may help candidates prepare? Do you run tutorials for groups of prospective candidates? How can you help them enter the industry? Moreover, once they are licensed, is your organization interested in supporting their continuing education? Is there a recommended route to pursue for candidates in terms of developing formal education or internal training within your organization? What resources are there to allow candidates to pursue their own educational interests once hired? Is your organization committed to investing in the ongoing development of its staff? What are the key components of the role itself that may be of interest to candidates? Does a candidate have confidence that they will be able to flourish in the role? Will they be properly trained and then encouraged to operate independently? Will they be supported and encouraged to grow? What type of support structure will they be afforded?

Beyond education, is there a career trajectory that you can communicate to candidates? Are there examples of people like them having made rapid and real progress within your organization? Do they still work for you? Are they willing to meet with candidates and share stories of their experience with your organization? What is the upside economically? How realistic is it? Can the candidate see themselves achieving the success you’re offering? What does mastery within a given role look like? What does mastery within your organization look like? What’s the financial upside? Does potential pay have the capacity to be unlimited? Is the opportunity for remuneration limited to a candidate’s willingness to work? Moreover, is there potential for one’s efforts to transcend immediate compensation and be parlayed into ownership? Can clarity with respect to a financial future be provided? Are you able to communicate the type of compensation potential available if both the individual and corporate objectives are met over the next 1, 3, and 5 years? Is there variety in the workday? Are there new challenges every day to embrace? On what fronts can mastery be pursued? Are you open to supporting your employee’s ambitions even if it means that they outgrow your organization and become better fit elsewhere? Will you support them even if their growth means they may well leave your organization? Where candidates see that the organization is as committed to their growth in addition to that of the organization’s, commitment is created.

Outside of the personal benefits of a role in terms of autonomy and mastery, does your organization have the potential to offer a sense of belonging? Does your organization have a strong culture? Do staff enjoy working for you? Are they proud of the company for which they work? Do people work well together and want to be part of the organization? Is there a diversity of experience and opinion within which is embraced? Does the candidate see themselves as similar to those who are well thought of within your organization? Are there peers in a similar role to which the candidate may be able to relate? Do they see others that look like them, live like them, and behave like them? Can you connect the contributions of a prospective candidate to the goals of the organization? Will their efforts be recognized and appreciate by others? What type of company events does your organization host for staff? What do you do for fun?

Finally, what is the status of your organization in your industry and community? Is it seen as a winner and one that others want to be part of? Winners want to be around winners. Is your organization a winner? Are you a winner? Do people want what you have? Is your organization a prominent part of its community? Does it support a worthwhile cause? Is there a way that employees draw engagement from being part of the bigger picture? Can they connect what the business does daily with a more meaningful purpose?

The more ways your organization consciously crafts ways to introduce autonomy, mastery, relatedness, and purpose into its efforts to support staff, the more engagement from existing staff and interest from external candidates will result. Remember, different strokes for different folks. Does what matters to your candidates match that which matters to your organization? The selling process of seeking to make your organization compelling to key candidates is constant. It starts with the scouting process and continues through onboarding.

Can you paint a picture of prosperity for your candidates? How can you help them see their future with you is bright? In The Great CEO Within, Matt Mochary writes of the scouting process, “The next and even more critical part is selling the candidate on joining your company. The key is to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Find out what they care about. And then care about it yourself. These are the things most people tend to care about: Fit. Share the company roadmap, department roadmap, and their individual roadmap. Show how where they want to go is a match for where the company is going.” The clearer a path you can illuminate that helps them see that their goals align closely to those of the organization, the more appealing your organization will appear. Are you enthused about your industry, organization, and the sales role in your business? If not, is it reasonable to expect enthusiasm from others? If yes, are you actively sharing this enthusiasm with people you meet? Only where you’re sold on your service do you have the potential to sell others on the possibilities for them. Ideal candidates want what you have which is a strong financial future in an industry that’s stable and interesting. Have you done an excellent job in making your organization attractive to those that you want to attract? What does the holy grail of hiring look like? Imagine where your organization becomes so good at defining, identifying, recruiting, training, and developing successful contributors that others begin to line up seeking your organization out. The heights of hiring is where your organization becomes so attractive that others want to pay or volunteer to experience your training programs. Not only are those working for you fulfilled and fruitful, you have a steady stream of those interested in a pipeline. If you’re strategically selling your organization in ways that speak to desirable candidates, you’re on you way to becoming known as a great place to work.