March 1, 2020

Five Lies Insurance Agencies Believe About Recruiting

by Mary Newgard

As you read this list, I want you to think:

  • Are these lies present in my firm?
  • Am I part of the problem?
  • Can I be part of the solution?

Lie #1- Human Resources Can Handle It All

I know plenty of insurance brokers on Insurance Journal’s Top 100 Broker list that have one HR/talent acquisition staff member managing 50+ open jobs at one time or all staffing needs for 80+ offices. An overwhelming workload hurts the recruiting process, but executives are slow to see this because their disengagement starts when they say, “Recruiting isn’t my problem,” and pass the buck to HR.

The Truth: Agencies with successful, comprehensive talent acquisition strategies have an Enterprise Wide Engagement philosophy. No leader is excused from being invested in the process of sourcing, advertising, interviewing, hiring and onboarding candidates. (Notice I didn’t say just ‘involved’). Executives say AND live out the motto We’re better together. 

Lie #2- We Work with Multiple Recruiters Because More Is Better

Do you allow multiple producers in your office to call on the same prospect? No, because it’s a terrible idea. For the same reasons you carefully track and cultivate prospective business is the same reason you shouldn’t work with multiple recruiters.

Five insurance recruiters……that’s the answer most agencies give me when I ask how many recruiters are working on their opening.  

The Truth: Better is better. Candidates HATE getting called five times and receiving five LinkedIn messages by five different recruiters about the same job.

Executives, if you care about your agency’s image then choose one recruiting firm. Do your homework. Be intentional. Don’t fling jobs out there. Don’t make candidates feel like coming to work for you is the same experience as buying a used car.

Lie #3- There Are Always More Candidates

When hiring managers create an ideal candidate profile, they fall into the trap of painting a Purple Squirrel. Nearly impossible to find, when the recruiting process goes into its fourth, fifth or sixth month, they don’t make any adjustments. There’s always more fish in the sea……kind of thing.

The Truth: People are not the same as candidates. Candidates are willing, engaged participants in the job search process. If you have 100 people on a prospective employee list, never assume all 100 are candidates. It’s really more like 20-30 people. Your recruiting efforts must be centered on attracting them.

Lie #4- Finding Qualified Candidates Is Our Biggest Recruiting Problem

I know of an agency that’s had five offers declined on a Director of Operations role in a search nearing the 6-month mark. They reason the failure in hiring someone is bad on bad sourcing, but I’ve had countless numbers of candidates say they interviewed with them and will never go to work there. If multiple people have interviewed, then the problem is not sourcing. The problem is leaders who can’t see that the interview process is broken. 

The Truth: Recruiting is a multi-step process. Each step, from sourcing and screening to interviewing, offers and resignation, is equally as valuable as the one before and after. Solely focusing on getting people in the door will never accomplish your hiring goals. If you like to hire people who can roll up their sleeves and work in the weeds, then agency leaders need to do the same in every phase of the process.

Lie #5- We Recruit

Imagine one of your producers outlined this kind of business plan- I’m going to change my LinkedIn status to read ‘I sell insurance’. Plus, I’ll put a billboard up on the interstate. Then I’ll kick back and wait for the phone to ring.

The Truth: If it requires insurance experience it requires recruiting. Insurance is a niche and getting harder by the day to fill with job ads. Don’t treat Indeed, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn and Glassdoor as a catch all. That’s an okay hiring strategy but a terrible recruiting plan.

When you’re recruiting, you’re crushing candidate sourcing through:

  • Employee Referrals
  • Database building and continuous management
  • Proactive cold calling
  • Networking events & campus recruiting/internships

“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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