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In spite of the recession and hard times in the property-casualty industry, well-run agencies, brokers and carriers are still looking for the talent they need to be ready for the day when the soft market turns and the economy is robust. As a recruiter, I’ve been asked throughout the last year and a half how we can be so busy in the middle of this horrible economy. Although all sectors have been affected, we continue to answer calls from agency and broker principals and senior managers looking to hire the best insurance professionals out there. In the last few weeks, we’ve placed a chief operating officer, a senior vice president and an experienced commercial lines manager. Employers might ask why they would need to hire an executive search firm when we keep hearing there’s plenty of talent out there. Why pay a recruiter to find you the talent when so many insurance companies, agencies and brokers have retrenched staff?

But how much are you prepared to invest looking for the perfect candidate? What’s it worth to you in time and energy and what happens if the candidate is wrong? How long are you prepared to look and what is the result of not having that senior person you need in place to help you grow your agency? Are you prepared to read through resumes, make time to interview candidates, conduct reference checks, and at the end of the day, hope you have the right person? Just because there are many insurance professionals looking for a job right now doesn’t mean you’ll find the right person–only that you are going to get a lot of resumes.

Insurance executives turn to recruiters when they realize looking for experienced insurance professionals takes time, expertise, and a national network of contacts. But what should you look for and what should you expect from a retained executive search firm? Here are the areas I consider most important.

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