In an era of the Great Resignation and the rise of professional contract workers across business and finance, companies everywhere are struggling to attract and retain extraordinary talent. Enter Scott Settles, the visionary founder and chief recruitment officer of digital recruiting firm The General Agency (The GA) who is turning the age-old industry on its head and driving it into the future. With an advanced talent attraction algorithm and new technologies, they’re positioning their partner’s ads where they should be—directly in front of career-changers, professional athletes, and military veterans.
Founded in 2017, The GA exploded right out of the gate, helping over 200 clients and financial leaders across the country attract top talent to their firms in the last five years—and their trajectory shows no signs of slowing. As business leaders are now engaged in an unprecedented competition to capture the crème de la crème of candidates, they’re finding that “old school” internet recruiting is yielding dismal results. And no one knows this better than Scott. He’s worked the finance industry for over a decade—after he retired from a 10-year career as a PGA golf professional. Indeed, The GA is most assuredly not your grandmother’s headhunter. They use the power of the internet and social media to dominate their clients’ markets and promote their career opportunities. And in just five years, they’ve placed over 3,000 candidates into financial, insurance, and sales contract positions, giving their client companies the talent they need, and their individual clients work in their field.
We sat down with Scott to find out how The GA emerged from the sea of uninspired recruitment tactics, and how he’s helping reshape the way companies think about hiring.
Where did the idea for GA come from, and what differentiates it from recruiters and headhunters?
I’ve been in finance for the past 12 years, and I always thought it was strange that the financial sector didn’t seem to believe in internet recruiting. I developed my digital recruitment concept while serving as Northwestern Mutual’s director of recruitment. I knew how challenging it was, seeing my colleagues struggle to crack the code and retain talent, and it was because the job descriptions were boring and weren’t reaching the right people. I knew there had to be a better way. I told leaders of offices all around the country about my idea, and they thought I was on to something. From there, it just completely blew up.
You work with both companies and candidates. How does this unique approach benefit both sides?
Everyone lives online now, so we use algorithms to help our client firms’ ads get in front of the right people, and we fine-tune the placement of them so that they get the attention of candidates with the right credentials for finance and other positions. We often work with the companies to tweak the ads and build the targeting for optimal results. We give them the best of the best candidates, and let them have the conversation with the candidates directly. By letting us handle the tech side of recruitment, running the behind-the-scenes promotion, our clients can focus on the human element that they know best.
When it comes to individual job-seekers, we have an inbound recruiting model, so all candidates come to us with a real interest in learning more about our partners’ firms. This produces warmer leads and more engaged candidates than traditional internet recruiting. The other beautiful thing about internet recruitment is the diversity of candidates we attract. We’re reaching a much more diverse candidate pool that likely wouldn’t have been discovered by the company looking to hire.
Are you seeing greater demand as a result of the Great Resignation and an increase in contract workers and career-changers as a result of COVID-19?
Absolutely. The last two years have been the busiest we’ve ever seen. The financial sector in general has never been more attractive than it is now. It has everything people are looking for these days, including remote work, more freedom, and more money. People got used to new lifestyles during COVID; they don’t want to be stuck at a desk anymore. Most of the roles we offer from our clients really check the boxes on all those things.
What do you enjoy most about your work, Scott?
What I really love about my job is finding people that have never heard of these firms and didn’t know what they did, or thought the company might be too exclusive for them. But when they see our ads, they realize that they’re a great fit for the company and learn things about them, and themselves, that they didn’t know.
Scott is a Chartered Leadership Fellow® (CLF®) of the American College of Financial Services.
Founder — The General Agency