Recruiting and hiring great talent is crucial to growing an insurance agency. Whether you are new or growing, you may have already felt the pain of the recruiting process. How do you squeeze in recruiting when you are busy selling, servicing, and running the operations of the agency? How do you fill a critical need for another producer, CSR, or account manager, when you don’t have the resources to assist you to identify and screen good talent? That’s often where recruiters come in.
Recruiters, headhunters, talent acquisition specialist, or whatever you would like to call them, have become an important part of the hiring process for many companies large and small. Many carriers and agencies have come to rely on recruiters to fill critical positions at all levels and identify hidden talent that may never have applied to their company.
I have a soft spot for recruiters and the industry since I spent 7 years as a successful headhunter/recruiter when I first came out of college. However, I also have become very critical of recruiters after I left the industry, spending 15+ years on the "other side" as a hiring manager in various leadership positions.
I have worked with and known many great recruiters, and also many terrible ones. Before you make a decision to invest in a recruiter, you should understand some basic truths about recruiters. Every agency principal or hiring manager must understand three basic facts about recruiters so he/she may be more effective when working with them.
Fact Number one: Recruiters are salespeople.
Do not get recruiters confused with human resources. A recruiter is a salesperson that makes commission by placing a candidate with your agency. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. You simply need to understand how recruiters work and how they tick. Like any salesperson, a recruiter will find the easiest and fastest path to money. This does not mean a recruiter will do anything unethical. It doesn't even mean that you have to pay the highest fees to get the recruiter's attention. You just have to understand that a good recruiter (notice I said "good" recruiter) evaluates clients the same way they evaluate candidates. They ask three simple questions:
Back when I was in the recruiting industry, I was able to build some great relationships with my clients over the years. I got to a point where I didn't need to send a resume to set up an interview. That was the level of trust and relationship my clients had with me.
On the flip side, I quickly got rid of recruiters when I was a hiring manager. I fired recruiters that didn't even bother to call me to get feedback or provide feedback after an interview.
Simply put, how you communicate, respond, and treat the recruiter, will dramatically affect your results. Just like how you should move away from bad recruiters, good recruiters will move away from you if you aren’t easy to work with.
Remember, if you are a recruiter and you can spend 10 hours recruiting for a position that has a 90% probably of making a placement vs. a 5% probability, where would you spend your time?
Fact Number Two: They are not responsible for your bad hires.
Many agencies blame recruiters for hires that don’t work out. They blame the recruiter for the “bad hire” that wasted their time and money. The fact of the matter is recruiters simply bring talent to the door. Their job is to find the best candidates available for the position, and bring them to you. It’s the job of the hiring manager to interview and select the best candidate for the job. It’s the job of the hiring manager and the agency to properly onboard, train and develop a new hire. No placement guarantee can protect the company from bad hiring decisions.
Regardless of the business’s size, a good interview and selection process must be in place. Unfortunately, most agencies simply do not put the time, training, and resources into the interviewing process. Many principals and hiring managers are simply not trained to interview and assess candidates properly. Therefore, they end up spending more money than they should with recruiters to replace bad hires 6 months down the road, or end up blaming recruiters for a bad hire. Bottom line, recruiters are not responsible for your bad hiring decisions.
In our upcoming private membership program, we will include “Hire4Excellence: 5 Steps to Identify, Attract and Select Top Talent,” a training program for hiring managers and principals, specifically on this topic. We will dive deeper into the selection process to help you find the right hire for your agency.
Fact Number Three: Refer to facts one and two
By understanding the two simple facts about a recruiter, your agency can better utilize a recruiting firm and reduce the frustration on both sides. Remember, a recruiter can be a great tool for your hiring process. You can focus other critical tasks while the recruiter focuses on acquiring and presenting the right candidates to you. They can help you get access to candidates that you may not have. Like any partners though, it may take several tries to find the best ones.
However, regardless of how great or a poor recruiter is, an effective interview and hiring process must in place, regardless of the size of the organization. If hiring managers are not trained and do not have the knowledge to properly interview and select the right candidates, it won’t matter how great the recruiter is or how great the candidates are coming in the door. Time, money and energy must be invested to help hiring managers gain the tools and knowledge to succeed.