Canadian Underwriter

How and where brokerages can find their next hire

February 11, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

Illustration of a man in a suit with a magnifying glass looking down on a line-up of four potential job candidates.

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The ongoing war for talent, coupled with the Great Resignation, has forced brokerages to shift their mindset on how they find and recruit talent. 

And that includes reaching out directly to suitable candidates on social media.

Brokerages must begin to communicate their organization’s value in a way that is attractive to candidates, rather than having candidates make their case on why they are the right hire, broker executives said during a Canadian Underwriter webinar panel discussion.  

“As employers, I think we often got caught up in what value would this individual bring to the firm, which is an important conversation,” Erin Magilton, risk and broking leader, Canada at WTW said. “But I think the last couple of years have either forced, nudged or allowed us to start thinking [about] what value does this organization bring to these people? You need to be able to articulate your culture and your values.” 

“You don’t have to be starving for talent,” Adam Mitchell, CEO at Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers, commented. “Brokerages need to look themselves in the mirror really firmly on what are they offering, if they have a shortfall of talent and people aren’t lining up.”

Illustration of a man in front of a video conference screen displaying four other colleagues.

Mitchell suggests the “great reshuffle” is a better term for the current recruitment shift. Thanks to many remote-work options, great talent can now find the best-fitting brokerage from anywhere in the country.  

“Three, four years ago, they didn’t have this many options,” he says. “We’ve had people join us from four or five driving hours away from the office….And now that we’ve gone out of this platform of work remotely forever, wherever you want, it’s really brought some amazing talent to our team.”

So how do you find these sources of talent?

Social media “poaching”, as Mitchell puts it, has become more prevalent recently. He made the observation while answering a question from the audience about whether employers should be reaching out directly via LinkedIn and other social media platforms to source talent, as opposed to waiting for candidates to come forward and apply to a position. “It’s a really tough job market out there for employers,” Mitchell observed.

Magilton has no issues with using social media to court desired candidates directly. “The whole posting a job and waiting for people to apply seems outmoded to me,” she said. “If you know what it is that you want…and what you’re looking to add to your bench, why would you not go out and directly ask the person or people who you think can add value to your organization? It seems like a very efficient way of doing things.”   

She also emphasized the importance of finding diverse perspectives.  

“To go outside of our industry to get new points of view or different industry verticals…is really critical,” she said. “We happen to like to recycle the same people over and over again, which means that we have the same thoughts creating this echo chamber. 

“I think success for brokers and quite frankly, every organization will be built on a foundation of diverse perspectives and thought. So, it’s not only the right thing to do…but I think it’s also just really good business.”

Doug Morrow, CEO and managing partner at Excel Insurance Group suggests upskilling your current employee roster. “It’s really important that we look at our staff as true assets of our companies, and make sure that we’re giving them absolutely every opportunity to broaden their education and to reach for the next step in their career.” 

He says pandemic-related workplace flexibility has served his brokerage well. “I think our staff really appreciated that we didn’t care which of the 24 hours of the day they were doing that work.” 

Mitchell emphasizes how secure the industry has remained during the pandemic, and how this could be a selling point for potential candidates. “There weren’t many company or broker layoffs during this [pandemic]. That’s a pretty valuable thing to go to the world with,” he says.


Feature image by Somsuk