April 1, 2020

A Three-Part Hiring Plan During COVID-19

by Mary Newgard

My recruiting career began 18 months before The Great Recession, so to say I’m seeing similarities between then and COVID-19 is an understatement. I remember the anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Would insurance agencies ever hire again? They slowed down claims, marketing and service hires but no one turned down a producer referral. In that realization I saw opportunity and light breaking through the darkness. From the ashes we built our agency division and moved to the forefront of producer recruiting. My company wouldn’t be where it is today if not for this storm.

So, as you’re reading this….Insurance Agency Owner and Human Resources Leader…..know that same opportunity exists for you. Even during the Coronavirus, your hiring can prosper. You cannot and should not abandon your 2020 recruiting plans. Simply readjust and refine them to fit short & long-term plans. Here’s how.

Triage Current Openings

Coronavirus did not eliminate all your hiring needs. “What do I need to do right now?´ is the question you want to ask over the next 30-60 days. I recommend compartmentalizing jobs based on urgency.

  1. Refresh All Current Postings. People will have more time to search job openings online while they work from home. Expect an influx of applications within the next 30 days.
  2. Convert Applications to Interviews Within 24 Hours. This isn’t the norm. Before, you may have waited a week to review resumes. Don’t create delays early in your process because there will certainly be unusual ones coming now in this season. An immediate turnaround on applications quickens your process.
  3. Eliminate Unnecessary Interviews. Forget about marathon interviews and office tours. Make hires after 1-2 phone & Skype sessions. If a face-to-face is absolutely required, be stringent on the number of hiring managers you invite, how much travel is truly needed and if you can replace on-site visits with marketing materials like a 360-degree video tour.

Manage Your Database

Will you allow your producers to stop prospecting because of COVID-19?  Certainly not. The same theology applies with recruiting. If you put candidates on a shelf, they will collect dust and become outdated. I recommend finding ways to maintain an active pipeline.

  1. Build A Producer Recruiting Plan. This is your #1 opportunity hire with the greatest impact on revenue & profitability. The Three P’s of Producer Recruiting are: Profile, Pitch and Pay. If you’re not sure where to start, contact me. I will help.
  2. Cancelled Interviews Do Not Mean the End. You’ll have to place some interviews on hold however doing so jeopardizes your position with a job seeker. Treat a 2-4 delay the same way you do the period between when a candidate accepts an offer and starts. Stay in weekly communication between 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  3. You need to become more efficient with candidate engagement.
    • Use questionnaires to enhance first round interviews.
    • Send a ‘benefits package’ before the second interview no matter if its video or in-person.
    • Give employees instructions on how to share posts about job openings on social media.
    • Set reminders to follow up with declined candidates 3 & 6 months from now to keep in touch about future opportunities.  

Think About Long-Term Opportunities

People are scared. Being an “Employer of Choice” means offering comforting solutions to current & prospective employees.

  1. Pay Attention to Retention. Instability, money & career progression are the top three reasons employees resign. Retention suffers when you are not forthright with what’s happening in the business.
    • Be transparent.
    • Set up virtual meetings weekly for updates on how the company is doing.
    • Don’t cancel annual reviews or opportunities to discuss advancement.
  2. Build Pipelines For Future Hires. 3 ½ months is the average length of time it takes an insurance agency to fill a job in the $75k-$125k salary range; it’ll be 4+ months to hire producers and positions over $150k. What would you have hired between July-December 2020? Start working on those searches now. A recruiter is your best friend in pipeline building; they have capacity to work on long-tail searches.

“Ask the Insurance Recruiter” is a monthly column written by Mary Newgard, Partner and published in partnership with Insurance Journal Magazine. Visit Insurance Journal Magazine’s website for a complete list of previous articles. For questions and comments, email Mary at mnewgard@csgrecruiting.com


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