Point/Counterpoint: Where Should You Find New Hires?

Are the best new hires new to the insurance industry?

YES. 

The way we used to operate was to only hire people with insurance experience. While that strategy is technically “easier” than hiring someone with no experience and training them, we now believe it is a limiting factor in finding the best talent.

Hiring only people with insurance experience narrows your talent pool in a world with an increasingly low supply of people to fill positions—and a demand that will only continue to increase for insurance-related jobs.

It may seem like a daunting task to take someone with limited or no insurance knowledge and make them an expert, but there are plenty of classes, books and training programs that can help with this process.

To date, over half of my staff has come into the agency with no prior insurance experience. On average, those employees stay longer and are happier because they are constantly growing and learning.

For service positions, we like to start people in an administrative position. Once they prove themselves, we get them licensed and put them on the track to become an insurance expert. For producers, we look for people in a sales role in a different industry who have a proven track record of success, then parlay their sales success into the insurance world.

If you ask someone how they started their insurance career, most will tell you they “fell into it” somehow. This industry is a great one. I feel a duty to continue to help people “fall” into it.

—Karyn Seibert Roeling, president and owner of Seibert Insurance Agency in Tampa, Florida

NO.

At least, not necessarily.

It’s great if you can find someone from another area of the insurance industry who is interested in learning a different aspect of it. My start was in commercial insurance underwriting, which provided me with a very solid base working with the best people in the business. That experience eased the learning curve when I transitioned to a role at an independent agency.

But these days, there are very few—if any—formal insurance company training programs for new college graduates, or people who are new to the insurance industry. That means it’s becoming more critical to cast a wider net to look for good people, and that might mean recruiting someone who has experience outside the insurance field.

In particular, people with a combination of good analytical skills, such as critical thinking and organization, and good communication skills, such as listening and writing, have a high potential for learning this business.

Those with experience in other financial services industries or working with contracts can also be valuable new hires. Of course, good sales skills are always necessary—almost every insurance job is a sales job, if you ask me.

Between online study courses, continuing education, on-the-job training, mentorship and a true curiosity about learning something new, agencies can attract, hire and train great new hires from both inside and outside the insurance industry.

—Cherie Kasch, commercial lines account manager, Howard Eales, Inc. in Washington, D.C.