Remaining Professional in a Candidate’s Market

Posted by Diana Shay Milazzo

Insurance unemployment remains low, job openings are at an all-time high, and organizations have record-breaking hiring goals. Even if you’re not actively job searching, it’s likely recruiters are reaching out to share potential opportunities with increasing frequency. While we’re currently in a candidate’s market, how you handle these interactions – regardless of your intent to make a move – is a direct reflection of your personal brand.

Here are a few ways to ensure you’re representing yourself in a positive light and further establishing your professional presence within the industry.
Professionalism in a Candidates Market-01-2Respond to outreach.
Even in today’s market, with its increased turnover and abundant opportunities, building relationships and remaining professional is essential. When you’re approached with a position that doesn’t interest you or isn’t in line with your larger career plans, let the recruiter or hiring manager know upfront, rather than ignore their outreach. Consider it an opportunity to build connections within the industry and share the kind of future opportunities that may be better aligned with your long-term goals. You may also know individuals within your network who would be an ideal fit to recommend for the role.

Professionalism in a Candidates Market-03Put thought into your interviews.
Be respectful of all involved parties’ time, schedules and efforts. While virtual meetings have become the norm for initial interviews, treat them with the same formality you would an in person meeting. This includes logging in early to troubleshoot potential technical difficulties, dressing professionally and being prepared with insightful questions. Silence email notifications or other distractions and avoid looking at your phone, remaining engaged throughout the conversation. Following the interview, send those you spoke with a follow up thank you email or LinkedIn message. Remain gracious, regardless of an interview’s outcome. If you are not offered a role, politely inquire about what you could have done differently and ask to keep in touch for future opportunities.

Professionalism in a Candidates Market-05Remain realistic.
It’s no secret salaries are rising across all industries. If you’re not actively searching, it may be tempting to provide recruiters with an unrealistic salary range just to “see what happens.” However, keep in mind these salary expectations will likely stay attached to you when other opportunities arise within that company or recruiting firm, potentially taking you out of the running for your future dream role. Salary will always play a large role in total compensation; however, there’s more to career satisfaction than money. In fact, 20% of individuals who switched jobs during the pandemic are now experiencing regret according to a recent Harris poll.

Be honest.
Sincerity is key in today’s market. If you are actively or even passively searching, spend time determining what you are looking for in your next position and be transparent in communicating those expectations throughout the interview process. This could include a firm and realistic salary range, paid time off, professional development opportunities, defined career paths and more. Look at the full total rewards package a company is able to offer, as well as potential flexibility, team dynamics and overall culture. If you’re excited about an opportunity, but the compensation isn’t where you need it to be, share your concerns and strive to reach an offer that is desirable for both you and the employer. At the same time, if you determine a role is not the right fit, let the hiring manager know as soon as possible.

Professionalism in a Candidates Market-02Make a graceful exit.
If you receive an offer you can’t refuse and choose to accept a new position, be thoughtful in how you discuss your decision with your current employer. Keep the conversation positive and if appropriate, let them know how the new role meets your career goals and objectives. Avoid listing grievances or complaints; if truly relevant, this should have been discussed far earlier in your tenure. Your goal should be to leave in a way that makes you re-hirable in the future. New positions could become available, or your manager could move departments or companies. Leave on a positive note and avoid burning bridges.

Focus on the future.
The insurance industry is small and currently experiencing increased movement. Many recruiters, hiring managers, past supervisors and colleagues will move to new companies or be promoted within their current organizations. It’s likely your paths will cross again whether it’s at conferences and industry networking events, as colleagues, or in a recruiting capacity. How will they remember your interactions? What might they say about you to other professionals? Ensure you’re thinking and acting through a long-term lens.

The talent marketplace will continue to ebb and flow. Consider where you want to go in the greater scope of your career and how you can continually set yourself up for success. By focusing on having honest conversations and building connections, you can further establish your professional presence and positively impact your personal brand in the current candidate’s market.