By Jamie Zananiri

For many employers, they see experience as a silver bullet that will solve their internal labor shortage. They may believe they want a “plug and play” candidate that knows it all is exactly what they need, or that they just don’t have time to train a green candidate.

While we would never discourage someone from seeking out experienced, licensed candidates, it is important to understand that in the current job market, those candidates are not looking for new opportunities right now. It can take more than six months for that unicorn of a candidate to appear, and that’s a long time to leave a role unfilled when you could be putting that time to better use.

Why take a chance on someone brand new to the industry over waiting for an experienced candidate to come along?

You don’t have to break any bad habits. How another agency runs may not be how you prefer your agency to run, so either way you’d be training the candidate (experienced or not) on your best practices. Someone brand new to insurance is going to be more receptive to your methods than someone who has been doing it a different way for five years.

They bring a unique perspective to your agency. Someone from outside the industry is going to bring fresh viewpoints that could improve how your agency runs, from customer interactions to back of house operations. It’s incredibly important to diversify your staff to ensure you have backgrounds and experiences that differ from your own.

Translatable experience. They may be brand new to insurance, but they may already have people skills and soft sales skills from working in other industries like hospitality or retail. A server from a restaurant is already familiar with quickly building rapport, upselling, and multitasking under time constraints.

You build loyalty. Investing the time and money to train someone new to insurance is an investment into your business. By showing you’re willing to put in the effort to start their insurance career, they’ll want to, in turn, prove you made the right decision.

Cost effective. Especially in the current job market where there are far more openings than candidates, you need to pay extremely competitively to snag and retain experienced candidates. Even if you are investing the money to help them obtain their license, your salary costs will be lower for an inexperienced candidate.

You can ensure the right culture fit. If you’re holding out for experience, you may feel pressured to hire a licensed, experienced candidate even if they aren’t quite the right culture fit. If the only thing a candidate lacks is a license, but is otherwise a good culture fit for your agency, what are you gaining by passing on them? Steve Wolfe puts it best: “Try to recognize that skills can be taught; personality cannot. If you find an individual with the right culture fit- meaning they are someone who will add value and create a presence that helps you get better at what you do, stop and ask yourself, ‘Am I being realistic passing on this candidate?’ What if your key competitors take the time to invest in that person?”

Looking at the full picture of a candidate, including their other work experience and IdealTraits assessment personality result, over holding out for one hard and fast requirement, will give you a bigger pool of potential candidates that can make your agency successful.

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