February 1, 2020

Has Our Company Partnered with a Bad Recruiter?

by Mary Newgard

The most popular “Ask the Insurance Recruiter” article in 2019 was July’s Partner or Pariah? 5 Hacks to Improve Your Experience Working with Recruiters. This was inspired by the negative reports I hear from insurance organizations about working with search firms. In this article I can give pieces of advice for you to vet a recruiting firm and set boundaries for engagement.

Given the article’s popularity, and the continued struggles employers have with finding the right partner, I’m taking the subject a step further. Today’s article assumes that you’re currently using a recruiter to help fill jobs. However, warning bells are going off.  If you have experienced any of the following signs, then you should find a new staffing partner. 

Situation #1 (Pre-Interview)- “The candidate quality and due diligence is sub-par.”

This isn’t your first rodeo and you sense when a recruiter is flinging in resumes. When this happens, you should also assume their screening techniques are limited. Don’t ignore your suspicions. Bad recruiters don’t talk to candidates. They only email them. They parse details from their resume to pose as information they’ve gathered in a phone screen. Poor candidate in-take leads to poor interviews and hiring outcomes.

Your Solutions:

  • Call out the recruiter. Hold them accountable for a better standard of submission.
  • Require additional information prior to an interview like a completed questionnaire or application along with candidate specific details (outline of job changes, book of business breakdown or copy of their non-compete).

Situation #2 (Interview)- “I never heard from the recruiter.”

Relationships are built on communication. Bad recruiters treat the process as a transaction not a consultation. You don’t receive status updates on the search. They are slow to help set up interviews and never debrief after the meeting. You’re flying blind and doing most of the heavy lifting. You start to wonder what you’re paying for.

Your Solutions:

  • Set boundaries and expectations.
  • Require a weekly search update.
  • Indicate you may utilize other recruiters or close the search if things keep going this way.
  • Ask for details on how and when they prepare applicants for interviews.
  • Make the recruiter handle tough conversations with candidates like declinations and compensation gaps.

Situation #3 (Sourcing)- “The recruiter doesn’t know anything about insurance.”

There are 19,000 staffing firms in the U.S., many of which are highly specialized by location, industry or discipline. Bad recruiters are posers. They say ‘yes’ to any job assignment giving you the impression they have insurance industry experience. Even worse, the recruiter has a narrow focus within the industry. There are big differences in the way insurance companies and agencies recruit. Don’t take a broad stroke and assume all insurance recruiters are created equal.

Your Solutions:

  • Get historical information about the recruiter’s placement history. They can answer, with accuracy, details about candidate compensation, availability and recruiting challenges in your market.
  • They can recite who your competitors are, and which ones are off-limits for sourcing.
  • They have mastery over multiple search management and sourcing strategies.
  • They will offer up references for you to speak with prior to an engagement.

Situation #4 (Post-Hire)- “The hire failed, and the recruiter didn’t do anything about it.”

You’re in sales, so you know there’s always an element of conflict management. Recruiting is sales but unfortunately a lot of recruiters fall short at this juncture. Bad recruiters don’t honor guarantees. They bait & switch on the refund or promise a free replacement (and then we’re back to no communication).

Your Solutions:

  • Lesson learned. Never work with the recruiter again but don’t rule out future partnerships. You need outside partners for a complete hiring strategy.
  • A failed hire should hurt you and the recruiter. Their lack of empathy is telling enough. If they take it to the extreme and get squirrely about backing up the guarantee, then push a refund to a credit on a future hire.

Food for Thought

Five Ways to Vet an Insurance Recruiter

Don’t wait until the process begins to do some investigation. Try these five due diligence methods:

  1. Ask for client references
  2. Talk to placed candidates
  3. Read online bios
  4. Seek out reviews
  5. Research social media

“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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