The Insurance Industry and the Missing Link

A recent article “Help Wanted,” by Dennis Gorski, in the May, 2013 issue of Best Review sited recent research with a puzzling finding. Almost 40,000 insurance industry jobs are either open or becoming open this year-yet insurers find them ever more difficult to fill.

Why, is a good question? Well, according to Mr. Gorski, siting insurance industry executives, “Unqualified applicants are filling up applicant tracking systems of major insurance companies.”

Next on the list of reasons that the jobs are not being filled is, “a lot of companies are handcuffed because they can’t afford them or… ”
So, there are two (2) reasons insurance companies can’t fill jobs that cry out for people:

People are applying for jobs that are not qualified
They don’t have the money to hire them

I am sure industry leaders believe those reasons and many, within the industry, are satisfied with them. I say “Malarkey!” I say the reason they cannot connect the people with the job (The Missing Link) is the industry has grown lethargic, lazy, and lackadaisical. They are unwilling to do the things that need to be done because what they are able to get by with average.

Mr. Gorski went on to quote the research saying, “the industry is stable, has great career paths, great benefits, is almost recession proof, has all levels of workers and is usually very financially sound. Potential candidates should be flocking to the insurance industry.” With all the compelling reasons people should be seeking employment in the insurance industry, why are so many jobs going unfilled? Answer: they are but the industry won’t let them in.

Mr. Gorski, apparently believes this is a mystery and it must be, or we would not be hearing about the struggles of this industry. Well, it is not a mystery the reasons behind the struggle is clear.

The insurance industry struggles to fill jobs of all types for just a few simple reasons. They are:

Most jobs within the insurance industry don’t require difficult to acquire, special knowledge. The knowledge you need to excel in an insurance industry job is readily available and learnable. Unfortunately, hiring managers within the industry are unwilling to hire bright, educated and motivated individuals and train them to do a job. They take, instead, the easy way. They want experience and in doing so often hire “retreads” (people with experience that did not do well in a previous positions), thinking that they can change them. Guess what. Most often, you can’t. Most retreads are what they are and cannot or will not change. So, in the end the industry hires another average or below person and the “envelope is not advanced.”

The industry, as a whole, is complacent. Willing to accept average and unwilling to take risks by hiring someone with the right talent (not just experience), and coach or mentor them to success. They are complacent because the industry lacks motivation. In many cases they are dependent upon the sale of a commodity or cutting expenses to look good. My experience (30 years inside the industry and 15 years outside) has been that few are willing to take even the smallest risk. The still believe that anyone can succeed in any job if they just work hard enough.

They are unwilling to do the things that need to be done to move the industry up a notch or two. Like, for instance, reevaluating the needs of a job beyond the experience and look for the right people to fill them. Things are just too easy. So easy, people often get bored and leave. What a shame!

There are, of course, other reasons relating to the struggles a complacent industry faces in just filling jobs, but the “Missing Link” is a belief that the industry can perform at a much higher level and that average is no longer acceptable.

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