Ask an Insurance Recruiter: Onboarding Best Practices

When it comes to hiring, no one likes surprises.  Months have passed since you’ve identified a need on your team, freed up the budget, created the position specs, and made the position public.  Since then, you’ve interviewed dozens of applicants through first, second, and final rounds, spent hours collaborating with your HR Business Partners and your team, before finally arriving at a decision.  More potential challenges arise: offer delivery, negotiation and acceptance, getting past the “new normal” of a counteroffer by your candidate’s current employer, budgeting for a sign-on bonus and possible relocation, background & reference checks.  Everything checks out, everyone is happy.  All good, right?

Nope.  Too often we overlook the fact that your new hire, out of professional courtesy, has provided his or her current employer with two to four weeks’ notice.  This is an extremely emotional time: tying up important, even groundbreaking projects; drinks with soon-to-be-former coworkers; tearful farewell parties – maybe even a bit of guilt, knowing that their team and manager will need to take on additional work until a replacement is found.  All said, it’s a prolonged period of time that can easily bring about feelings of buyers’ remorse for your candidate.

If you’re not communicating with your candidate between offer acceptance and start date, you are setting yourself up for a huge setback when the candidate develops cold feet and decides to back out of the new opportunity.

Although we make it a practice to stay in close contact with candidates during this critical time, we also strongly advise our clients to consider these actions:

• Take your candidate out to lunch and reaffirm your and your company’s excitement to having them on the team

• Call and/or email about a specific project with which he or she will be involved; ask for their thoughts or guidance and make them feel involved before even officially starting

• Raid your supply closet: every company has golf shirts, coffee mugs, pens and other swag from past events.  You’ll be amazed at the impact it will have when your candidate receives a care package during this transition period

• Get your candidate’s workstation set up early. Take a photo of it, including name placard, business cards, and other personalized touches.  Email it to your candidate. Make it official.

Remember that this person has just made a huge decision that impacts them and many others around them.  It is exciting, yes, but also scary, emotional, and disruptive.  Your candidate will have sleepless nights and second thoughts.  Small gestures like these will reassure them that they’ve made a sound decision.

Ken Jordan is the Insurance Practice Director at Smith & Wilkinson, focusing on executive placements within Life & Health, Retirement, and Group Benefits.

Ken Jordan, SVP & Director, Insurance Practice

207-289-2211 | |

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Smith & Wilkinson’s Insurance Practice serves carriers, reinsurers, brokers, TPAs, and the InsurTech community all across the U.S., specializing primarily in Director-level and above placements in functional areas including Distribution, Sales & Marketing, Corporate Development and M&A, Operations, Underwriting, Product Development, Actuarial, Corporate Strategy, Analytics, & Information Technology.

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