August 20, 2019

Insurance Recruiting: How to Overcome the Skills Gap

The insurance industry is facing a serious threat in the form of a talent crisis. It is an issue that Ryan Hanley, former CMO at independent insurance agent resource company Trusted Choice, describes as “the biggest operational obstacle the insurance industry must overcome in the very near future.”

The problem is more people are leaving the industry via retirement than are entering the industry. At present, the deficit can be counted in the hundreds of thousands of unfilled roles.

But the supply of talent to meet that demand is strained thanks to the industry’s extremely low unemployment rate — 1.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The rate has been steadily decreasing over the last few years, and there is no reason to expect that trend to reverse in the near future.

Supply has also been impacted by the fact that many younger workers aren’t interested in careers in insurance, says Michael Brown, vice president at Golden Bear Insurance Company. 

The combination of increased demand and decreased supply has created a severe talent shortage in the industry. So, how do insurance companies win the battle for top talent? By modernizing their approaches to recruiting and employing new technologies to attract and recruit people.

Leverage Recruiting Software to Identify the Best Candidates

Hiring software speeds up the recruiting process in two ways: by allowing organizations to quickly gather and analyze data, and by expanding the pool of talent from which those organizations can choose.

Insurance companies are busy places. Often, hiring managers have to speed-check their way manually through an abundance of resumes to find the top candidates for a position. Fatigue and stress can lead to them overlooking the best candidates. With AI-powered software, however, they can turn these steps over to the technology that can more quickly browse a wider pool of candidates. The result is a selection of top candidates for hiring managers to review for further consideration.

Hiring technology also greatly expands a hiring manager’s ability to reach more qualified candidates than traditional manual processes. Rather than simply waiting for candidates to apply, hiring software can help companies find passive candidates who may be perfect for the job. Kirsten Agnello-Dean, social media manager at Upwork, says these passive candidates want to be recruited, so identifying those candidates is crucial for insurance companies looking to hire.

The problem is the industry lags behind in adoption of these powerful tools. Roger Lear, co-founder of, says the company’s 2018 Insurance Industry Employment and Hiring Outlook Survey indicates that most insurance companies haven’t yet considered employing recruiting technology. “For most, this leaves them in the dust of companies who can get a targeted recruiting message delivered on multiple platforms.”

Puzzle concept to suggest effective insurance recruiting

Transition to a ‘Screening In’ Approach to Recruiting

Insurance companies are having to shift the way they approach recruiting at a time when supply is so low. Traditionally, companies have screened out talent, which means looking for flaws on their resumes that would remove them from the list of potential hires. This approach is very limiting because it downplays a candidate’s other skills or experiences. It also discourages applicants from trying to enter the industry when the requirements are so strict.  

So many skills can be learned on the job, though, which is why screening in has become the more practical approach to hiring from a limited talent pool. When screening candidates in, companies look at all of an applicant’s abilities to see where their skills might best be utilized. 

Predictive analytics can help insurance companies make that determination by pulling both internal data about past competencies needed in a role and a candidate’s own data to determine the potential for success for that role. That external data is collected not only from resumes, but also social media activity that highlights the applicant’s interests and abilities. The technology can then analyze data to search out candidates that may show promise based on similar skills.

Engage Younger Candidates with Growth Opportunities

Appealing to millennials is a key strategy for insurance companies to fill in the talent gap. But it isn’t always easy because the younger generation has very different career expectations. 

Younger workers want to see a future career path with a company before they accept a job offer, a Generations at Work report by PayScale and Millennial Branding argues. Insurance companies must envision what those career paths are before attempting to attract such candidates. 

Silhouette of woman rise up on stairs,  successful insurance recruiting concept.

Focus on Diversifying the Workplace

A group of diverse individuals is going to bring forth more diverse ideas for problem-solving and innovation. 

But many organizations struggle to bring diverse perspectives together, explains Rogerio Rizzi, senior vice president of Corporate Strategy at SAP, because their hiring practices are susceptible to the unconscious biases of the people making hiring decisions. 

Hiring technology can circumvent those biases. The tool’s algorithms can read a candidate’s profile without the prejudices all humans are taught. As a result, the pool of candidates naturally broadens, and new hires bring new ideas to organizations.

Become a Tech-Driven Employer

There’s no denying that hiring in the insurance industry is going to get tougher before it gets easier. Companies that take the steps now to adopt hiring technology can overcome some of the hurdles induced by the talent gap and find the right candidates for their open jobs.

Images by: kzenon/©, alphaspirit/©, Dmitrii Kotin/©