How Insurance Employers Can Leverage Lateral Career Moves

With the ongoing insurance labor shortage, recruiters and hiring managers need to think outside the box–and that means targeting candidates outside the insurance industry. As we’ve said before, you can expand your candidate pool and make more successful long-term hires by evaluating candidates based on their skills rather than their past job experience. The same logic applies to recruiting from outside your industry.

Although direct experience in and knowledge of the insurance industry is a plus, we’re cutting ourselves off from a lot of great fish in the sea if we narrow our recruiting to these candidates only. In this article we’ll explore which alternative industries insurance employers can leverage as sources for candidates, what transferable skills to look for, and how they can sway lateral career moves in their direction.

What is a Lateral Career Move?

Lateral career moves, or “going sideways,” have in many ways become the norm for most career paths. With constantly changing technology, markets and more, it’s almost more rare when an individual moves linearly. When was the last time you met someone who’s college degree led them directly to a career path that they have since stuck with?

Lateral moves are career changes where individuals take on a new role with little to no change in their level or salary. A shift like this can occur within a company like when someone at an insurance organization moves from the finance department to the legal team as their interests and skills develop. They can also happen across companies and even industries. Individuals might seek similar roles at organizations with better company culture or more room for upward growth, or they could be looking for a different way to apply their existing skill set in a new role.

Most hiring managers are familiar with using internal lateral moves to fill gaps in their staff and help ensure that each team member’s strengths are being used to their fullest. But lateral career moves can also be used to expand the candidate pool in tough labor markets. So, where do you begin to look? Although most people have the capacity to learn and adapt to new roles, not all industries have the same level of cross over, so you’ll need to be strategic in your targeting.

What Industry is Insurance Part of?

The insurance industry is nestled within the broader financial services sector which provides financial services to both individual people and corporations. This sector of the economy employs almost 7 million people and makes up 7.4% of the total US GDP. Traditional barriers between sub sectors have begun to disappear over the years, making lateral career moves more common.

A finance career path is also more appealing to degree earners and young professionals due to its above average salaries and excellent growth projections. Most employees in this industry have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, or finance. There is also a growing intersection between financial services jobs and tech which is already transforming the insurance industry.

When it feels like you have exhausted the candidate pool within the insurance industry (which happens more often than not these days) the greater financial services sector should be the first place you look for potential employees.

Careers in Financial Services that Could Translate to Insurance

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual job titles we could explore but we’ll focus on just 4 potential careers in the financial services industry and how can set candidates up for a successful transition into the insurance subsector.

Auditors & Accountants

These are typically entry level roles that examine, analyze, interpret, organize, and maintain financial records and statements for public or private organizations. Their attention to detail and knowledge of compliance and tax laws help them advise on business decisions to reduce cost, minimize risk, or increase profit.

Consider how your insurance organization could leverage their up-to-date legal knowledge and keen analytical skills to apply to positions like risk managers and underwriters with the right training. You might even specifically target employees at large accounting firms where a lateral career move to a smaller, more personalized work environment could be appealing to candidates.

Financial Analysts

Whether they are working for individuals or businesses, financial analysts keep a close eye on industry-specific economic trends, evaluate their employer’s financial data and make investment recommendations. This title exists across multiple sub sectors like banking, securities, government. You may already have an opening at your insurance organization for this role but you may not have considered seeking candidates who specialized in other subsectors. They also bring to the table strong research and reporting skills that are crucial for claims examiners and insurance brokers and could be great candidates for lateral career moves to these alternative positions.

Brokers and Traders

With roles at multiple different levels, brokers buy and sell stocks, bonds and other funds for their business or individual clients. They are not only well versed in economic trends, growth strategies, and portfolio management they also have strong interpersonal skills. Successful brokers and traders are able to grow their client list and maintain long term relationships. This can make them great candidates for insurance sales roles at the entry level, managerial or even executive level depending on their experience.

Loan Officers

Working for banks, credit unions, independent lenders, and mortgage companies, loan officers help match applicants with the right loan, evaluate their eligibility, and make financial recommendations to help them achieve loan approval. They have good number-crunching abilities as well as communications skills. Loan officers would do well in claims specialist or examiner roles where they can review and evaluate reports and negotiate settlements with your organization’s customers.

Why Would a Candidate Choose to Move Laterally into Insurance?

Look, we’re not saying that every person in the above financial services careers is ready to jump ship at their current company. But more often than not there will be at least one aspect of their current job that they don’t like or that doesn’t satisfy their career goals. Your hiring team can perform cold outreach or run a paid LinkedIn campaign targeting a few positions titles outside the insurance industry.

When you begin a conversation with these potential candidates, whether over email, LinkedIn messaging, or in a formal interview, be sure to focus your questions on discussing their skills as opposed to the duties of their current job. Ask them about the tasks they enjoy most, where they would like to do the most learning and what their goals are for professional development.

Then, if you are interested in moving them further down your hiring pipeline, or would like to make an offer, make sure you highlight how your company can support their ongoing education, speak to your organization’s work culture, and make clear the connections you see between their current work and the essential qualities of your open position.

Humans are inherently curious, non-linear creatures who are motivated to try new things and learn new abilities. With such a low unemployment rate among current insurance professionals, companies should take advantage of exploratory behaviors like lateral career moves to expand their candidate pool and promote the overall growth of the insurance industry. And if you need help getting creative with your recruiting or want more specific strategies for how to target candidates outside the insurance industry, we’re always here to help! A quick call or email will get our gears turning and get your insurance organization on the path towards hiring success.

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