August 1, 2020

COVID-19 Gives Agencies Time to Evaluate Hiring Methods

by Mary Newgard

The original title for this article was “Post-COVID Recruiting”, but anymore I don’t know what ‘post’ means.  It seems we’ve reached a reality that will extend farther than most of us predicted earlier this year. As we adjust to the ‘new normal’, recruiting has started to evolve within insurance agencies.  Some changes are a direct response to COVID- i.e. new safety measures for in-person interviews. Others are changes that were long overdue, and COVID’s shutdown created space for implementing new hiring strategies.

I want to encourage you to spend time evaluating your agency’s hiring methods. Let the term “retail” in retail agency remind you that in other businesses word-of-mouth is everything. That’s why I believe the hiring process has the greatest ability to affect an agency’s success or failure. Insurance professionals are your prospective candidates. What they think about your brand, recruiting approach, engagement style and interview process means everything.

Step One: Branding Reboot

Focus on attracting the right candidates not just any candidate. Insurance professionals with similar work experience, values and goals will engage with your brand. Social media is the largest platform to differentiate yourself from all other brokers. Start your analysis with these questions:

  1. What percentage of our social media content centers on career opportunities?
  2. How do applicants hear about us- job boards, employee referrals or direct solicitation?
  3. How readily available is information about our benefits, compensation, job openings, team events and volunteerism?
  4. What reviews have former and current employees posted on Google and Glassdoor about working at our company?

Step Two: Sourcing Methods

Insurance producers tell me they receive at least 5-10 LinkedIn messages a week from recruiters. At some point this inundation becomes numbing. You need a lot of tools in your toolbox to identify and contact prospective candidates. Ask the following questions:

  • Should LinkedIn be our primary method of direct solicitation (and for which positions)?
  • Do we monitor engagement and response rates? Are these impacted by the position of the person who sends a message or makes a call?
  • Can we enhance our employee referral program to garner more leads?
  • What insurance specific associations have social media boards to tout our employment opportunities?
  • Do we expect our producers to identify sales candidates when they attend local networking/social events?

Step Three: Interview Process

Few agencies need practice making a hire. You’ve been down this road before, but a well-worn path needs routine maintenance. Re-envision your interview process with the following goals in mind:

  • The Candidate Experience
    • Did we personalize the interview experience for each applicant?
    • Do they view us as trustworthy, transparent and informed?
    • Did we communicate clearly, fulfill promises and meet deadlines?
    • Did we ask people for feedback, even the applicants we didn’t hire?
  • Talent Management
    • Does HR conduct pre-interview prep sessions with hiring managers?
    • When and how do we gather critical information for EEOC purposes?
    • Do we have a continuous, sustainable recruiting plan, or do we only solicit candidates when there is a formal opening?
    • Do our employees participate in the hiring process? How can the new hiring process positively impact current employees (and retention rates)?
    • How frequently do offers need to be revised? What percentage of offers are declined, lead to a counteroffer or are reneged upon at a later date?

“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


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