Recruiter Report: Recruiting for Skills, Not Experience

Posted by The Jacobson Group

The tight labor market continues to intensify, with savvy insurers seeking creative ways to attract qualified professionals and expand their talent pools. Our team regularly works with hiring managers to determine the needs of a particular role, as well as how to creatively uncover qualified, yet perhaps non-traditional, candidates. In this edition of Recruiter Report, we explore how to look beyond professionals’ experience and resumes to uncover their potential for success in a role. Below we explore the pressing question, How can insurers most effectively recruit for skills?

Recruiter Report Engaging New Hires Prior to Their First Day-01-1

Talent Strategies for a Successful 2023 Open Enrollment Season-04Determine the skills necessary for success in a role.Recruiter Report Recruiting for Skills Not Experience-01-1
Traditionally, many hiring managers focus on specific educational requirements, background experience and past positions titles when defining the requirements for a position. However, this not only limits your candidate pool, it potentially excludes individuals who may have the aptitude and abilities to thrive in the role. Rethink how you approach the recruiting process by identifying the core skills needed for success. Rather than focusing on a specific number of years’ experience in a certain position, identify what you’re hoping an individual would have gained within that timeframe, using this information to influence your search. For instance, transferable skills such as customer service, attention to detail and emotional intelligence are key for claims roles; while strong analytical thinking and sales skills create a solid foundation for underwriters. These interpersonal skills are often more difficult to teach than department-specific programs and processes.

Talent Strategies for a Successful 2023 Open Enrollment Season-04Refresh job descriptions to resonate with a broader audience.
As you expand your candidate pool and explore less traditional hires, ensure this mindset is also reflected in your job postings. If you’ve previously included long lists of qualifications and desired experience, determine which are vital coming into the role and what can be learned on the job. By distilling your requirements down to the most essential elements, you’ll avoid discouraging otherwise well-qualified individuals from applying. At the same time, rather than simply listing a role’s day-to-day responsibilities, use your job posting to showcase its larger impact, growth potential, and opportunities to flex and develop various skills. Take a fresh approach to how you’re positioning open roles, focusing on making them more inclusive and compelling to a broader audience.

Talent Strategies for a Successful 2023 Open Enrollment Season-04Look for talent outside your comfort zone.
The industry has recently seen record numbers of open positions; yet, there’s not enough available talent to go around. Keeping specific skills in mind, explore how you can expand your talent pool beyond your standard recruiting campuses and industry competitors. Consider different insurance verticals or even other industries that leverage similar skillsets. Partner with a broad range of college programs, actively participate in career fairs and expand your social media footprint. You may also choose to reach out to specialized recruiting firms with broad networks and extensive reach.

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Talent Strategies for a Successful 2023 Open Enrollment Season-04Leverage behavioral interview questions.
Especially when interviewing individuals who are not making linear moves or lack exact experience, determine how you can best uncover their ability to perform within a role. Rather than solely focusing on their background and past positions, ask questions that are more future-focused and help you understand how a candidate would handle potential scenarios. Here are a few examples of the many open-ended behavioral interview questions that can provide insight into an individual’s transferable skills, thought process and approach to various situations:     

      • How do you coach your team members to use their critical thinking skills?
      • In what ways do you guide your team to advance the goals of the organization?
      • Provide an example of a time you made a mistake at work and explain how you fixed the issue.
      • Tell me about your biggest professional achievement.

Talent Strategies for a Successful 2023 Open Enrollment Season-04Be intentional when selecting interviewers.Recruiter Report Recruiting for Skills Not Experience-03
Along with behavioral interview questions, explore additional methods for further uncovering a candidate’s transferable skills. This could mean having someone other than the hiring manager or department head participate in the interview process. The candidate may feel more at ease with a peer, allowing them to engage in more natural conversation and enabling you to uncover different facets of their experience and skills. As an added benefit, this also grants candidates broader insight into your organization’s people and its culture.

Recruiting for skills, as well as experience, is a key strategy for expanding your candidate pool and cultivating an agile and diverse workforce in today’s challenging market. Determine the transferrable skills needed to excel in a role, rework job descriptions to resonate with today’s candidates and create tailored behavioral interview questions to uncover potential beyond a resume.

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View the last edition of this quarterly series, “Recruiter Report: Job Hopping