Recruiter Report: Are We Still in a Candidate’s Market?

Posted by The Jacobson Group

Last year, we were in the midst of one of the most competitive labor markets the insurance industry has ever seen. Candidates gained a substantial upper hand in the hiring process, leveraging a red-hot recruiting climate and competing offers to raise their expectations around compensation, benefits and flexibility.


Now, as we move through 2023 with a looming recession and economic uncertainty, we’ve been having many discussions with clients and other industry leaders around the need to continually adapt to remain competitive in an evolving market. In this edition of Recruiter Report, we’re exploring the question, "Are we still in a candidate’s market?"

Recruiter Report Are We in a Candidates Market-01The Current State of the Insurance Labor Market
For the past several months, questions around a potential economic downturn and its impact on the labor market have been increasingly prominent. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment within the insurance industry reached an all-time high in January, with the larger finance and insurance sector continuing to experience elevated levels of job openings and voluntary quits. Professionals are making moves; and, at the same time, insurers are continuing to hire. Our Q1 2023 Insurance Labor Market Study found 67% of carriers plan to increase their staff sizes in 2023, which is just 1 point lower than July 2022’s study and 5 points lower than January 2022. For additional context, this is 6 points higher than January 2020, prior to the pandemic.  

Shifting Candidate Expectations
In 2021 and 2022, as the economy began to recover from the initial impacts of COVID-19, the industry experienced unprecedented movement. While this reshuffling seems to be slightly easing, we’re still seeing high turnover as professionals seek out companies and working arrangements that best align with their values and professional aspirations. Individuals are unlikely to make lateral moves, yet their salary expectations have become more reasonable. Companies’ flexibility around hours and locations are now key differentiators and common deal breakers for candidates – even more so than salary, especially as some insurers are asking employees to spend more time in the office.

Remaining Realistic and Competitive
Regardless of how the market shifts long term, professionals’ expectations around the hiring process and the employee-employer relationship have forever changed. Here are a few ways to help calibrate to the current equilibrium.

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Make your position stand out. 
In today’s market, candidates are unlikely to make a move without a compelling reason. This could be more money, greater flexibility or the opportunity for upward mobility, among a number of other factors. Active candidates are receiving multiple offers and it is necessary to stand out among competing opportunities. Some passive candidates may also be hesitant to make moves right now, and finding out what is important to those who are on the fence is key. Use the interview process to uncover these unique motivators and accommodate individual needs to the best of your ability. At the same time, be flexible with your job requirements – if an individual already meets all the requirements of a role, there’s no room for growth.

Limit relocation and in-office requirements.  
Workplace flexibility has become a top priority for many professionals, even more so than bumps in compensation. While specific preferences will vary among individuals, many are reluctant to come into an office even three days a week. Relocation also remains difficult, especially given today’s housing market and the assumption that many jobs can be performed just as well remotely. Take time to fully consider the in-office requirements of a role and be creative in offering the flexibility in hours and locations that many professionals currently seek.

Maintain a sense of urgency. 
Providing a streamlined interview process and open lines of communication continues to be essential. While it may not be as crucial to make decisions immediately after talking with a candidate, the interview process shouldn’t extend longer than a week or two to avoid losing the candidate’s interest. Maintain momentum by clearly defining the required skills for a role within your interview panel, interviewing with intentionality, and uncovering the information necessary to create a strong and personalized offer.

Do you feel we’re still in a candidate’s market? Share your thoughts in our LinkedIn poll below.  

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