State Farm Agents Share Advice for Hiring During COVID-19

CareerPlug’s applicant tracking system (ATS) helps thousands of State Farm Agents make the right hires, year after year. Of course, 2020 has not been a typical year for anyone.

But while many industries have seen a decline in new jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the insurance industry is trending in the opposite direction.

Since March of this year, many State Farm Agents have seen greater hiring success than in previous years, with some reporting they’ve hired even more team members than they would in a typical year. We recently interviewed State Farm Agents to gain insight into what’s driving this unprecedented hiring frenzy in the insurance industry. 

Why are State Farm Agents choosing to hire right now?

A few Agents pointed to the current rate environment as being a driver for their increased hiring needs. Chris Bryant, a State Farm Agent in Monticello, Arkansas, says: “Due to rate decreases, I have decided to staff up and hire at least one extra right now and possibly another. It’s preparation for a better rate environment.”

Heather Thies, a State Farm Agent in Clemont, Florida, also sees current rates as an opportunity: “Our company has positioned us in a very competitive rate cycle. After the base rate reductions, competitiveness is expected to be better than any period since at least 2010. This, in combination with the expectation of record shopping levels for auto insurance in the coming months, makes it essential that we have not only enough team members, but the right team members, in place in order to capitalize on the opportunity.

Thies adds, “It won’t last forever, so I want to be in a position to capitalize on our competitive position. Instead of constricting, like many businesses are, I look at this as an opportunity for expansion.”

What does the candidate pool look like now versus in the past?

A common concern for employers is that the candidate pool is worse now than it was pre-COVID because people aren’t ready to return to work. However, we know from our recent study that this is a misconception – people are looking for employment right now.

In fact, Agents in many markets are seeing a larger candidate pool due to pandemic-related layoffs or reduced hours. 

Heather Thies says: “I actually think the candidate pool is better now than in the past. We are finding some very talented candidates out there that may have been furloughed or experienced some cut-backs due to their current employer’s experience with COVID-19. There are also many candidates who are still employed – however, COVID-19 has caused them to re-evaluate their current career and they see this as an opportunity to explore something new.

Devyne Brown, a State Farm Agent in San Leandro, California, has also been impressed with new applicants: “I’ve had pretty good success with the pool. Everyone I’ve hired has been licensed walking in the door except for one candidate.”

What are some of the strategies that led to your hiring success during this unique time?

Every State Farm Agent we spoke to seems to have their “secret sauce” that has worked for them in their market. Doug Miller, a State Farm Agent in Indianapolis, had the most creative strategy we’ve seen. He says, “I did a video a few months ago saying ‘I’m hiring!’ and put it on social media. I got the best response I have ever gotten. It worked incredibly well.”

Sean Black, a State Farm Agent in Berwick, Pennsylvania, has found success by offering more enticing benefits. He says, “I’ve increased my base pay and I’m now offering health insurance, so I’m attracting a little better candidate pool this time around. I’m also posting more job postings trying to grab attention in a crowded job market.“

Michele Warren, a State Farm Agent in Austin, Texas recommends connecting with people and putting in the effort to make the right hire, not just any hire. She says, “I’ve been talking to people and taking my time not to rush to make a hire.” 

What advice would you give an Agent who is unsure if now is a good time to hire?

Every State Farm Agent who spoke to us unanimously agreed that now is a great time to hire in the insurance industry. As Chris Bryant sums up, “There is some really good talent available right now that might not normally be available.”

Michele Warren agrees: “Now is the best time to hire. With the increased number of layoffs in many sectors, the hiring pool is more competitive than ever before. The likelihood of finding the right match for your open position is much higher right now.

Eddie Bleiberg, a State Farm Agent in Ellicott City, Maryland, adds: “There are a lot of people out of work and second-guessing their current career path. Now is a better time than ever to be hiring. The applicant pool is large and we can afford to be a little pickier now than we were in 2019.” 

Heather Thies emphasized the importance of CareerPlug’s philosophy, always be hiring. “I have learned that even if you don’t have an opening at this very minute, it is critical to be always recruiting and interviewing. If you wait until you lose an employee to start your search, it’s often too late,” she says. 

Thies adds, “By implementing a consistent recruiting process, you can create a depth-chart of talented people that you can pull from to fill your next opening. Plus, sometimes you end up finding someone so talented you are willing to hire them for a position that you didn’t think you had.”

Sean Black is also a proponent of the always be hiring mindset and offers this sports analogy: “You should always be looking at candidates, whether you need them now or not. Look at any sports team, they’ve always got ‘subs’ ready to go in case something happens. I’ve made the mistake in the past, and yet again, of not having a good candidate pool ready to choose from when my team gets broken up for unexpected reasons. Losing momentum in sales is really tough. I’d recommend having a deep bench of folks to reach out to if you’re looking to hire.

How has CareerPlug helped State Farm Agents make the right hires?

CareerPlug’s applicant tracking system was built with State Farm Agents in mind, so it’s no surprise that many of them have successfully grown their teams with us. Here are some key successes reported by the Agents we interviewed:

  • “CareerPlug assists in receiving more applications. We’ve seen an increase in applicants by 50% and decreased turnover by 25% within the last year.” (Michele Warren)
  • “I’ve tried other platforms, but CareerPlug has consistently delivered a candidate pool.” (Devyne Brown)
  • “It has been a great management tool for candidates. It allows me to keep track of each candidate at different stages in the process.” (Doug Miller)
  • “It’s made it easy to create and list jobs in one location and use the centralized dashboard for the management of multiple candidates.” (Sean Black)
  • “We are able to screen people out more quickly by using upfront screening questions that we can customize. It also makes it very simple to administer career assessments. The email templates that we have through CareerPlug have simplified the communication with candidates while also making communication more efficient. Nothing slips through the cracks and every step is documented. Finally, we have definitely seen an increase in applicants as a result of consistently using CareerPlug.” (Heather Thies)

Take action

2020 presents a unique opportunity to grow your insurance team. Here are a few things you can do now:

  • Evaluate your team – Do you have the strongest team in place to capitalize on the current rate environment? Are you doing enough to take advantage of the unprecedented talent pool right now?
  • Weigh the benefits vs. the cost of hiring new employees – Consider how much faster you could grow your business with additional support and weigh that against the cost of bringing on a new hire. Chances are you’ll net more with the additional help.
  • Post a job using CareerPlug – The most successful State Farm Agents tell us they’re always recruiting to build a depth chart of talented people. CareerPlug makes it easy to post a job to all the major job boards with just one click. 

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