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Insurance Agent Recruiting: The Ultimate Guide

There are many different ways to recruit insurance agents, some of which are more traditional, and some that are more modern. Each insurance agent recruiting method has its own pros and cons, but one thing is for sure: hiring the right people is crucial to the success of an insurance agency.

If you’re an insurance company looking to recruit agents, it’s time for a little bit of a review. You’re not going to get anywhere with your recruiting efforts unless you know what you’re looking for, so let’s talk about the skills and attributes that make a good insurance agent.

You’re not alone

Insurance agent recruiting is a perennial challenge for agencies—especially in today’s job market, where unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 20 years. If you’re feeling frustrated by the challenges of recruitment, don’t worry: you’re not alone. Hiring insurance agents- and finding the right insurance agent for the role can be a challenge.

According to a 2017 survey by Insurance Business America on employment trends in the insurance industry, more than half (54%) of respondents reported an overall shortage of qualified candidates, while 53% said they were having difficulty filling roles. And if you’re looking for experienced candidates in particular (which most agencies are), 39% of respondents listed “lack of experience” as the primary reason their agency was having trouble filling roles.

Understand what insurance agents are looking for

Sometimes it’s not enough to know a few tricks and resources that help you find candidates and hire insurance agents. To lure away top producers, you also need to know what makes them want to join your company after you find them.

Want to know why insurance agents are joining your organization in droves? Because they’re looking for more freedom, better earning potential and a better work-life balance. In fact, we asked 1,000 life and health insurance agents about their biggest career motivators, and here’s what they told us:

The number one reason that agents switch agencies is because of the lack of training opportunities offered at their current agency. Agents want to feel like their agency has invested in their success—and that starts with quality training.

Agents want to feel like they’ve been given a fair shot at an unlimited income at an agency that values them as a valuable business partner. They want to be treated as professionals—not just order takers.

Agents don’t want to feel tied down by administrative tasks and office time when they could be out selling policies instead.

Create a candidate personas

In order to find the right candidates, you need to really understand who you are looking for. The best way to do this is by creating candidate personas. A candidate persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal candidate or candidates. You can use these personas throughout the recruiting process and help you narrow in on the type of candidates that will be most successful at your agency.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when creating your insurance agent recruitment personas:

  • Who are my current best agents?
  • What common characteristics do they share?
  • What types of people tend to be successful within our agency?

What to look for in an insurance agent resume

An insurance agent resume should have the following in mind:

Applicants need to have a college degree or some sort of experience related to the insurance industry. It’s mandatory, especially for positions that require a licensing exam, such as a licensed agent or manager. If you think that you qualify for these types of positions but don’t want to take on the expense of a degree, you can apply for other positions within your company that don’t require a college degree. Also, it’s a good idea to see if they have any sales experience. If you’re going to grow your business, having people with strong interpersonal skills is a great way to make that possible.

Applicants should show how they went above and beyond when it came to their education and experience. They should be able to show that they’re qualified based just on their grades, coursework, and class participation rather than having extraordinary items (i.e. long list of awards). Most applicants, when they apply for certain jobs, assume employers are looking more at past performance than future potential when deciding which candidates are good fits for managerial roles within their company.

While it’s accurate that employers who seek specific individuals due to their knowledge or background in an industry get the first interview because of prior experience, you want to hire an insurance agent based also on their aspirations and knowledge. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more than what you could find on the application on the careers page, and build a rapport with your potential hire.

Applicants need to show why they warranted an interview. Even if there’s nothing particularly outstanding about them in terms of accomplishments, candidates are often much more than what is on their resume. What sets a great candidate apart is not just from what is listed on sections of their resumes (coursework, internships, business commitments). The interview process can help the employer ask questions about each candidate’s responsibilities as well as what was accomplished during those responsibilities (i.e. sales goals met). It’s an opportunity to help them see why they’d want to come work for your company, and can help you get to the candidate. Make sure you take advantage of that opportunity!

It’s important that each applicant knows enough about themselves and others around them in order to stand out. Applicants should have examples from his/her own experiences during work or education settings that highlight their unique talents and personality. Often, it’s situations where he/she made a difference by leading or participating in tasks or projects aimed at achieving specific goals, or outlining how he/she overcame obstacles along the way.

Instead of providing generic reasons (“I worked hard”) or giving vague explanations that only relate back to their own perspective, you want the candidate to give concrete, specific examples that highlight how they could succeed. For example, as a life insurance agent, they might have overcome a challenge with a customer. Their story on how they overcame it could be exactly what you look for in a potential hire, as well as a member of your team.

The best way to contact candidates

Reaching out to a potential candidate should be more than just messaging them online or commenting on a social media post. The best way is to reach out directly, normally via a phone call. But, keep in mind, these people are busy too. Many people who are independent agents have demanding and irregular schedules, as well as many other candidates currently working as insurance agents. The best time of day to call is between 5 and 6 p.m. and at lunchtime.

As for the best day to call, Wednesday is the best choice, followed by Tuesday and Thursday. Mondays are often a big “catch-up” Friday afternoon for many, so it’s probably better to avoid reaching out on that day.

Friday afternoons are generally good times to reach people as well, since many workers have finished their most important tasks of the week and are relaxed and ready to socialize before heading into the weekend.

How to succeed at insurance agent phone screen interviews

Good questions to ask in a phone interview

Phone interviews are typically much shorter than in-person interviews. You’ll want to use this time to assess whether the candidate has the characteristics and background that fit your needs. Ask them questions about their experience and personality, instead of diving into details about their resume or application.

  • How do you plan to make a difference at our company? Asking candidates this question helps you determine if they have done proper research on your company’s mission and goals. Knowing what inspires them can also show how dedicated they might be to achieving those objectives once they join your team.
  • Why are you looking for a new job? This is one of the most important questions to ask during an interview, because it gives you insight into a candidate’s motivations and desires. It also tells you why they left their old job, which is important information when deciding if someone is right for your team.
  • What challenges have you faced at work recently? Ask this question to figure out how candidates handle conflict, problems, or challenges at work; it will help you determine if they might be able to deal with similar situations in their new role with ease.

Phone screen interview questions to ask candidates

After speaking with candidates on the phone, there are several questions you should ask them to help determine if they’re a good match for the role.

Here are five questions to ask during your phone screen interview:

  • What are your career goals? Asking this question gives you insight into their long-term plans. If they express interest in starting their own agency down the road, that’s OK, but you should know that it’s not in line with your company’s plans. Additionally, if their career goals don’t align with this position, it may not be a good fit.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. How do they react to stress? Do they handle customers professionally and politely at all times, or do they get flustered?
  • What can you bring to this role that other candidates can’t? This question gets them talking about why they’re the best person for the job and what skills and experiences set them apart from other candidates. It also gives you insight into how confident they are in their abilities.
  • What do you know about our company? This question tests how much research candidates have done prior to applying and interviewing. We recommend dedicating an entire page of your website just to careers so prospective employees can learn more about what it’s like working at your company before applying or interviewing for jobs there. [Note: Not all websites have a “careers” section.]
  • What do you like to do outside of work? Asking them about their hobbies helps you get a better idea of who they are as people outside of work!

Use a Recruiting Agency – The Right One

With so many areas to focus on in your business, recruiting can fall off the radar. You’re busy with your day-to-day tasks, and you might not have the budget to hire a full-time recruiter. But you still need to attract and hire qualified talent for growing your team.

We get it. It’s tough to find the time and resources for recruiting efforts when you’re focused on serving your clients. We want to help you free up that bandwidth so you can avoid holding back your company’s success.

You might be thinking, “But I already use a staffing agency!” You’re not alone – many businesses turn to staffing agencies to fill open job positions. And while they may provide some relief, they don’t always get the results you desire. They can be expensive, expensive, and expensive – but that doesn’t mean they’re effective.

If you really want to attract top talent, it takes more than a quick job post or phone call with an agency that posts jobs on multiple sites. Knowing how to find and hire insurance agents is a process that takes a cohesive effort. You need to build a solid recruitment strategy that will help you attract top talent time after time.

Questpro is ready to help. Contact a Questpro representative today!

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