Little Hinges Swing Big Doors – How a Couple of small changes to your hiring process can increase your talent attraction.

There is a paradox inherent in the insurance industry’s mind set in that there is a belief that there is both an abundance of talent but also a scarcity of the right talent and that if the hiring company somehow gets the alchemy correct, great talent will somehow start reproducing ad infinitum. Sadly were this true, I think the great recruitment alchemists out there would have already discovered the formula. The simple answer is that there is no great magic behind producing great talent, it’s being produced every minute of every hour of every day in every maternity hospital in the country and has been for donkeys.

I recently conducted a series of hiring audits with some valued clients which are designed to give powerful insights on how you can shift or alter your hiring process to get better results. In just 20 minutes I asked a series of diagnostic questions related to various aspects of their respective hiring processes, with each client scoring themselves based on a scale and using examples of good recruitment processes to help clients look at their own processes objectively. Once we analysed the results, I was then able to come back to each client with 3-5 recommendations or changes they could make that will improve their hiring process and how they could leverage it with future hiring in mind.

The series of diagnostic questions comprised of a set of ten best practices in a hiring process with each client self-scoring off a scale from 1 to 10; 1, 2, 3 & 4 being the Red Zone, 5, 6 & 7 being Yellow Zone and 8, 9 & 10 being the Green Zone. This process of self-scoring is a model of best practices and was designed to create a result that most hiring companies aspire to, allowing each to hold a mirror up to their current practices. Scoring themselves in the Red Zone meant that there are significant areas for improvement, Green Zone meaning they’re doing a lot of the right things correctly and Yellow Zone meaning they’re doing some of the right things correctly but not all of the time or in an inconsistent fashion.

The first question concerned how a hiring profile (job description) is aligned with a specific business problem that a client might need to fix. The ideal here is that the hiring company defines the profile of the person they want to hire based on firstly defining the problem that that hire will solve and subsequently identifying the knowledge, skills and attributes required. Most insurance companies in my experience have historically designed boiler plate job descriptions with little or nothing to distinguish one from another. These are usually created off an assembly line of ill-fitting parts (whole paragraphs taken from previous job descriptions used for previous hires) and knitted together to form a spec that can be reproduced ad nauseum for the masses.

The challenge with this approach is that by not aligning the profile with the specific business problem needing solved, many firms cannot look a year out and envisage what accomplishments will indicate a successful hire. Thus a vanilla sounding job description, attracts a vanilla candidate and the hiring manager in many cases making a hire based on limited talent available from the pool attracted to the job description. One of the best practices in productive hiring is hiring to solve business problems and defining what impact the successful hire will have on the business 12 months post hire. Unfortunately this approach is sadly absent in the majority of insurance firms and the first step in the hiring process is unlikely to appeal to the exact, specific and precise talent the client needs to solve the problem and get the job done.

Another diagnostic question concerned an insurance firm’s ability to conduct continuous recruiting. Red Zone here meaning you only interview when you have an opening, green zone meaning you recognise that you can shorten your time to hire when you’re meeting with available talent on an ongoing basis and are able to move quickly when you have a confirmed opening. This question highlights the value to any firm of interviewing passive talent even when there isn’t a specific opening. Think of all of the valuable market intelligence that you could be gathering on your competition if hiring managers committed to an exploratory discussion with passive candidates once a month. Clearly there is an investment required in terms of the time this takes but the most successful insurance firms are continuously having these conversations with prospective hires and are then better placed to move faster than the competition when they have a confirmed need to grow, replace or upgrade within their ranks.

The final piece of the diagnostic concerned predictive hiring processes that create predictable results. Red zone here meaning that the recruiting process varies with each hire and always seeks to take advantage of the quickest, easiest options available. Green Zone meaning that the recruiting process is a funnel that specifies the number of prospects to be targeted, the number and frequency of touch points to generate interest from passive and active talent and the target number of candidates that need to be interviewed for an effective hiring decision. This is about having a well articulated, heightened hiring process that makes sense because it looks at all the different parts of what a company needs the hire to do to be successful.

Most insurance firms I’ve dealt with over the past 20 years have been firmly in the red zone meaning their hiring processes were designed to be reactive (hiring the easiest option available from the talent that happened to respond to their job board posting) as opposed to proactive (surveying the entire talent pool/candidate marketplace and making a planned, intentional approach to the whole candidate pool before funnelling it down to the best candidates available). This is a legacy of years of overworked hiring managers producing tired job descriptions that barely attracted the talent required and resulted in hires being made from the “best of a bad lot”. It’s the “silk purse from a sows ear” approach to hiring and it papers over the real problems many firms face when there is a gap in their talent pool or they want to upgrade it. Hiring under time pressured, limited resources means bad hiring decisions that are likely to bounce back and bite down the line.

An alternative approach could be partnering with someone who takes the proactive approach above, surveys the entire marketplace and has a customised hiring process designed to attract only the best talent in the market. Think of the power that this could bring your firm, knowing that you have a “talent partner” in the market who is making planned, intellectual approaches to the best candidates available in your pool, conducting deep and meaningful and productive conversations with prospective candidates on your behalf and presenting them forward for exploratory/discovery dialogues. Imagine harnessing that power and knowing that your firm was better placed than any of your competitors in the market when it comes to attracting and hiring the best candidates.

In conducting these hiring audits, Campbell Rochford have uncovered three common challenges that are getting in the way of insurance companies getting the results they want from their hiring efforts. If you’d like to discuss your firms hiring challenges and to be part of a free, no obligations hiring audit, call us today for a consultation.

For a complimentary evaluation on your hiring process, we can improve your ability to attract great talent, call us on 01-90651116 or email [email protected]

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great!

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