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 of women who very are interested in building long-term relationships with companies and clients.
Among the findings of a 2006 survey of New York Life’s female agents, one stood out: The majority of women who joined the company (66%) were not looking to become agents when a recruiter contacted them. What recruiting tactics worked in getting them to begin their career as a life insurance agent?
A recruiting message that resonates
A major insight revealed by the survey was that despite our high-tech world, recruiting remains a low-tech, high-touch process.
It starts with the manager. Managers still need to use that personal touch: making the phone calls, developing the sources and gathering referrals to present a career to prospective agents. Next is the important role of the recruiter. He or she needs to be honest and realistic when describing what the job as a life insurance agent entails.
The goal is to have the recruiter be so effective that the career will appeal to many prospects who had not initially expressed interest. Agents report that an effective recruiter can establish how well this career suits their personal and professional career wishes. In today’s world, where impersonal Blackberry-to-Blackberry communication often substitutes for face-to-face dialogue, successful recruiting in this industry still requires an emphasis on the personal touch.
Even with the success of high-touch recruiting, recruiters need to supplement their efforts to make it easier for women to find out about the career. Utilizing the Internet can be an effective strategy. A website can be a one-stop shop for potential prospects to learn about the career, and the company.
Another benefit of using a website is that Web usage can be analyzed, which can direct ongoing site development. Include job responsibilities, opportunities for training and education, and outline ways in which the agent is supported in her career. It is crucial that these messages match the ones the recruiter provides in person.
A career helping others attracts
Having a consistent message that matches reality is imperative, but what are the vital pieces of that message? Insights into what persuades women–many of whom were not seeking new careers–to say “yes” to the job of selling life insurance and other financial products provide valuable guidance for messaging.
We consistently find that the appeal of this career is the ability to help others and the flexibility of the career. In the survey, 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.
Highlighting these points in the recruitment process and on the website can aid your recruitment efforts. In addition, successful women agents who really love their jobs are often the best spokespeople to use in recruiting. So incorporate these ‘real life’ stories into all aspects of your recruiting efforts: website, in-person discussions, group seminars, print advertisements, etc.