Recruiting and retention are not two separate functions, but rather an integrated process. The message prospective agents receive before signing their contract needs to match the reality they experience once they join the company. If it does, retention rates will be high. This is especially true when it comes to women agents, many of whom are very interested in building long-term relationships–with companies and clients alike.
A Recruiting Message that Resonates
In a 2006 survey of New York Life’s women agents, we learned a number of surprising facts. One in particular stood out: The majority of women who joined the company (66%) were not looking to become agents when a recruiter contacted them.
A major insight revealed by the study was that despite our high-tech world, recruiting remains a low-tech, high-touch process. It still needs that personal touch and relies primarily on managers committed to making the phone calls, developing the sources and gathering referrals to present a career to prospective agents.
Our recruiters create trust when they tell the “New York Life story.” This story is so effective that it appeals to many prospects who had not initially expressed interest in the company or the career. In fact, they were quite unaware of how well this career can suit their personal and professional career wishes. In today’s world, where impersonal Blackberry-to-Blackberry communication often substitutes for face-to-face dialogue, the survey results reaffirmed our career agency system, with its emphasis on personal relationships, remains as vibrant and irreplaceable today as it was 50 years ago.
Even with the success of our high-touch recruiting, we realized that we had to supplement the recruiters’ efforts, making it easier for women to find out about the career, the company, its training and support. Part of our strategy was to launch a new recruiting site in October 2006.
We incorporated the knowledge from our survey. The site also includes information on expectations, training, support; and it enables prospective agents to apply online. Using a variety of web tools, we were able to actually view the areas most visited by women and analyze what is most important to them. That information, combined with our other learnings, continues to direct ongoing site development.
A Career Helping Others Attracts
The survey of New York Life women agents also provided insights into what persuades women–many of whom were not even seeking new careers–to say “yes” to the job of selling life insurance and other financial products for New York Life and its subsidiaries.
Three findings stood out:
? 75% of women agents indicated the opportunity to help people was the primary attraction.
? 70% said the career provides the independence they were seeking, but didn’t know where to find.
? 69% responded they were attracted by the opportunity to set their own hours, which is especially appealing to agents with families.
It became obvious that successful women agents really loved their jobs and were the best spokespeople to use in recruiting, so we incorporated a section where women can learn about a New York Life career from other successful women agents and managers, in both print and video. We used the website and other communications to provide their stories as part of our recruitment effort and communicated the key messages across the company to all our managers to ensure a consistent approach.