Insider Tips from a Recruiter

By: Amanda

Last week we sat down with Amanda Goodman, Director of Talent Strategy at Northwestern Mutual in Duluth, and she cued us in on a few insider tips. Amanda graduated from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at UMD in 2016 with a major in Organizational Management. Her experience in the field includes recruiting anywhere from seasoned adults to fresh graduates. Most recently, she began her role with Northwestern Mutual and has prominent on the UMD campus ever since. 

Just a few years ago, she was in the same shoes as us students: navigating fairs and trying to figure out what exactly she wanted to do after graduation. She broke down her advice into three main areas: interviews, resumes, and job fairs. 

Image: Amanda Headshot
Amanda Goodman, Northwestern Mutual

INTERVIEWS

  • Dress up for your interview. This is your opportunity to make a good first impression. Plan your outfit the night before your interview so you are not scrambling. Make sure there are not any stains or wrinkles on your clothing.
  • Your interaction with the front desk receptionist matters. Arrive at your interview early. Once you arrive, be kind to the front desk receptionist. Oftentimes, the managers or people conducting the interview will ask the front desk receptionist what their impression of the candidate was. This simple interaction could make or break your interview, so be sure to be tactful and kind, no matter how nervous you feel.
  • Do your homework on the organization. Amanda said, for lack of a better phrase, “you need to creep on the company”. She went on to explain that “nowadays, looking at their job description is not enough”. Many companies post on their website who their senior leadership is. Take a look at that. Find out about events they hold, what their philanthropy looks like, and dig into their social media. Come into the interview showing that you fully understand the company, what they stand for, and what their vision is. In addition, prepare a few questions based on your findings. This will show that you care and help you to stand out from other candidates. 
  • Review your resume content. Amanda pointed out that some candidates will fill their resume to make them look more qualified than they actually are. This is something to never do. Be able to speak in-depth about every experience, bullet point, and position on your resume. Any experience on your resume is fair game for a recruiter to ask about, even if it happened several years ago. 
  • Do homework on yourself. Additionally, do some thinking about yourself before you go into the interview. Companies are more interested in who you are as a person than ever before. They want a taste of your personality. Be able to speak to what you like to do for fun. 
  • Be able to articulate what you want out of a company. One of Amanda’s favorite questions to ask is, “Put titles and industries aside if you could create the perfect internship, what does the culture look like?”. Think about aspects such as:
    • Future leadership opportunities
    • Philanthropy events
    • Whether you will work independently or on a team 
    • Is there paid time off to volunteer
    • Professional development opportunities 
  • Say thank you. As basic as this may sound, a simple thank you email or card can go a long way. Amanda mentioned that students who send a thoughtful thank you are almost always at the top of her list. 
Image: wooden desk with gray lamp
Text: Insider tips from a recruiter

JOB FAIRS

  • The Elevator Pitch. Before you attend the fair, prep yourself. Do not think of the elevator pitch as a speech or presentation. Try to be conversational about it. Know the main ideas you want to get across and go from there. 
  • Formulate a few questions to ask them as well. Do research and ask about things you have found on the website to help yourself stand out. All and all Amanda wants you to know that “At the end of the day we are all people and we were all in your shoes before. The more you can be yourself and be authentic, the better you will feel. You are talking about you, make it fun!”

RESUMES

  • Simple Format. Amanda shared that most companies use an Applicant Tracking System for resumes. When you submit your resume online, the system tries to correct it so it is easier to read for the recruiter. Amanda suggested that you minimize the number of lines you have on your page, specifically columns. She said that oftentimes these resumes will come through the system so messy looking that they are barely able to read them. 
  • Simple coloring. Try to stick to black and white. Occasionally it is okay to have one key color to use for headings. Many colors are typically distracting to the employer.
  • In-depth bullet points. She pointed out the more detail that you can give with a bullet point, the better. Give an accurate description of what you were doing for a role. Add numbers to the description. This means so much more than a vague statement. 
  • Integrate skills. Whether you are making a specific skillset section, or you are integrating skills in your bullet points, it is important to include them in some shape or form. Take a look at the job description and pull skills from it you have. Look at all of your past experiences and find ways to align those skills with the position you’re applying for. 
  • Have your resume reviewed. Ask multiple sources to review your resume so changes are made from a holistic perspective. Start with a Career Counselor at Career & Internship Services to build a foundation. Then, ask a professor or advisor. From there, go to an industry professional in the area you aspire to work in. The more eyes you get on your resume, the better. 

Sitting down with Amanda Goodman was a great reminder for us that from job and internship fairs, to on a resume, to in the actual interview process, it is important to thoroughly prepare and evaluates your skillset. Amanda is more than willing to talk with students in the future about their career path, as well as Northwestern Mutual. Her email is amanda.goodman@nm.com. She encourages students to reach out with any questions. 

Of Possible Interest:
Interviewing; Job Fairs, Resumes – all our blog posts on the topics
Ace the Job Search; Interview Like a Pro; Mastering the Career Fair – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo sources: Unsplash | Andrej Lisakov; Amanda Goodman

Phone Interviews: My First Impression

By: Paying

I have recently been applying for summer internships for the Twin Cities while I’m in Duluth and was contacted for an interview. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make a trip down for the times that were listed so they offered me a phone interview which I have NEVER done before. For this blog post, I will be sharing my first impression getting interviewed over the phone and some advice for those of you who may want help preparing for it!

Before the Phone Interview
Our office actually has a blog post of how to prepare for a phone interview so go check it out for more in depth advice! For me, I was told the interview would be about 30 minutes to an hour long so I decided to book a study room in the Library so I wouldn’t be interrupted. Make sure to find a private and quiet spot before your interview begins and double check that your phone is fully charged!

Besides that, I also did research beforehand and looked up information through our Pinterest board for simple tips and tricks of how to handle a phone interview compared to an in-person interview. If not being able to see your interviewer is an issue, don’t be afraid to request for a video call!

Image: black and silver table rotary phone
Text: Phone interview tips

During the Phone Interview
One thing I did not expect for my phone interview was for there to be multiple interviewers on speaker! The room echoed a bit and one of the voices was further away from the phone which caused it to not be as clear. It’s okay to ask for clarification on questions!

Since everything is done through the phone, be sure to pronounce your words clearly! Talk in a bold voice as if they were right in front of you. A good tip for this is to stand up and keep a smile on your face so you don’t sound slouched or mumbled.

Usually when I am told something or is asked a long question, I nod and say “Mhm” to show that I am being attentive and that I understand. However, it is quite different in a phone interview and threw both me and the interviewers off multiple times. Since I was on speaker, it sounded as if I was interrupting to ask a question so I had to adjust and not say anything until they were done speaking. Expect to adapt to the situation!

After the Phone Interview
As for any other interview, send a thank you email! Thank them for their time and address any other questions, comments, or concerns you or the interviewers may have had. After that, be prepared to be patient and wait for them to finish interviewing the others.

Now that you know what to expect for a phone interview, be prepared and be confident! Good luck!

Of Possible Interest:
Interviewing – all our blog posts on the topic
Interview Like a Pro – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Pawel Czerwinski

Library Resources That Will ROCK Your Career Search

By: Heidi

So you’ve begun the job search process. First, congratulations on making it this far! It’s exciting being able to think of all the possibilities of where you could end up next, but can be daunting for some not knowing where to start or what to even be thinking about in the job search process. I recently spent some time at the Library learning about resources available to us as a UMD students and I’m here to share what I found.

Reference USA
Ever feel like a company’s About Me page just isn’t enough? Reference USA can be a great tool for learning more about an industry by searching specific companies you’re interested in. This site will give you the scoop of demographics of a business, their current management, and business size history by sales volume as well as employees. This can be useful information for you to understand if a specific company is experiencing growth and can be a way for you to frame your interview questions.

Image: wall of books shelves filled with books
Text: Library resources that will ROCkKyour career search

Occupational Outlook Handbook
This resource is a great starting point for understanding what type of salary you can expect in the industry you’ll be going into. You can select different occupational groups and from there select the specific occupation you’re pursuing. After that, information is broken down into what that job does, the typical work environment, pay, job outlook, and similar occupations. What I think is the coolest part of this site is the “important qualities” information which can be found underneath the “how to become one” tab. For example, I’m looking at an Advertising Sales Agent role which highlights having communication skills, initiative, organization, and self-confidence, all of which I would strategically highlight how I have these skills if I were to go into an interview for this position.

Learning Express Library
Is passing an entry exam for an occupation/job or the GRE on your mind? This site is going to be your go to spot for all resources for preparing for all different tests you can imagine and actual practice exams. Different tests range from nursing, real estate, social work, EMT services, and law enforcement. Along with assessments, the Learning Express Library also offers different ways for you to build your skills with writing, speaking, and grammar which are all crucial when it comes to building your resume and communicating your skills and accomplishments in a job interview.

Interview Books
Congratulations on being at this step in the process! It’s exciting to finally being able to get your face in front of a company and highlight all of your hard work and what you’ve been doing as a student. If you’re new to this or just looking to brush up your skills, the library has TONS of books to help set you up for success to stand out in the process. Follow this link to browse different titles for all your interview needs.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a resource librarian to answer any of your questions or further assist you in finding resources for the direction you’re going!

Of Possible Interest:
Job Search – all our blog posts on the topic
UMD Specific Resources – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Stanislav Kondratiev

The Hidden Benefits of Greek Life

By: Amanda

When I came to campus in the fall of 2017, I knew I wanted to join Greek life. The benefits of joining are endless: service and philanthropic events, social events with other organizations, a sisterhood that lasts a lifetime and a home away from home. Although I gained all of these through joining Phi Sigma Sigma, I found that the professional development opportunities nearly outweigh the social ones.

It is believed that there are currently over 9 million Greek members across the nation (source). On top of this, the first female senator and first female astronaut were Greek. And additionally, 85% of Fortune 500 executives belonged to Greek life. It goes without saying that Greek members are making an impact well past their collegiate years. When considering this impact, there are three main hidden benefits of Greek life: professional network development, resume crafting, and a job interview.

Image: desk top with pot with writing utensils, yellow coffee mug, back of computer monitor
Text: Hidden Benefits of Greek Life: professional network development; resume building; examples for job interviews.

Networking naturally occurs through Greek life in college, as all Greek organizations often have social events. Furthermore, individual chapters typically hold alumni events multiple times each year where active members are able to meet with previous ones. Although these are all great starting points, it is important to go beyond this. Consider checking out the LinkedIn profiles of alumni from your org. This is an incredible asset to find alumni who are working in your industry all over the world. A personalized LinkedIn invitation to connect can go a long way and show a lot about your character. One might consider conducting an informational interview with an alum. Oftentimes, Greek members from the same organization share similar values and traditions. This can be something to go off of when sparking up conversation. A few informational interview questions tailored to Greek life include:

  • How did your collegiate Greek life years help you get to where you are today?
  • What would you recommend I do in my time before graduation to expand my network and prepare my resume?
  • Are there any alumni or any other Greek members who you recommend I reach out to?

Resume building is the next advantage of Greek life. Think about starting an ongoing list of accomplishments you have had through your organization, both individually and as a group. Whether it be philanthropy, volunteer work, leadership, teamwork, or event planning, there are skills being developed every day that go unrecognized. An example for a leadership position on your resume could be as follows:

Public Relations Chair, Phi Sigma Sigma, Duluth, MN, Jan 2018 – Jan 2019

  • Wrote blog posts regarding informational and promotional events
  • Take photographs and post on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
  • Managed chapter website on the platform, Weebly, and ensured content was up to date
  • Designed graphics to be posted on social media and in print for events and fundraisers

The final way Greek life can aid in professional expansion is through a job interview. Answers to questions can often be pulled from leadership and learning experiences in Greek life. Here are a few examples of questions that could be applied to Greek experiences:

  • Tell me about a time that you had to work on a team
  • Tell me about a time you have had to use your time management skills
  • Tell me about the type of leader you are

Clearly, the benefits of being a Greek life member, go far beyond service and socials. Professional development can be found in all aspects of Greek life and it is time to start taking advantage of it today!

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Obtaining a Leadership Position as an Introvert
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Georgie Cobbs

The Basics of Illegal Interviewing

By: McKenzie

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates from ages 18-48 the average US citizen will hold 11.7 jobs in their lifetime and a trend seen in recent years, as the BLS studies younger candidates, has found there to be an increase in the number of jobs held from 18 onward. This means the average person will likely experience at a minimum of 11 interviews before they retire.

Jar with colored pens and blank notebook open on a desk. Text: The basics of illegal interviewing.

What is illegal interviewing? 
The term illegal interviewing may inspire images of a shady business deal and other ominous activities but in reality, it is actually rather subtle. Illegal interviewing is when employers ask their prospective employee’s questions which they are not legally allowed to in an interview.

What can’t employers ask me?
Employers can’t ask you questions regarding your age, ethnicity/race, gender/sex, country of national origin/birthplace, religion, disability, marital/family state, and pregnancy.

Why is it important I know about illegal interviewing?
Illegal interviewing can be a way to eliminate you as a candidate for a position—whether intentional or not. You should be aware of it because you if you are the most qualified for employment in the position applied for then you shouldn’t be excluded from the opportunity.

Who should I tell?
If you are up to it, you should start by speaking with the person and say, “I am not comfortable with that question,” and explain to them why it is not appropriate. Doing this could help candidates in the future who may not feel comfortable speaking up. If you don’t feel like you can bring it up to the interviewer then you can bring it up to their HR (Human Resources). Some companies will want to follow-up with you about your experience, that would be another time to bring up any inappropriate questions that may have been asked.

Of Possible Interest: 
Job Questions that are Illegal – The Balance Careers
Interviewing – UMD Career Handbook
Key to Interviewing – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

How to Dress for the Job Title You Want

By: Kimberly

When you’re up against many other applicants, immediately your goal is to stand out from the rest. How do you attain that goal? First Impressions. The way you dress for an interview is going to play a big part in your first impression. Whether you’re going to a job interview or not, your appearance will tell recruiters if you are suitable for the job. Therefore, you should dress appropriately and present yourself professionally.

Step 1: Company Culture
Deciding what to wear for an interview can feel nerve-racking because you don’t know if the outfit will make it or break it for you. I learned that you should take into consideration the culture of the company. Do the company employees dress up in a suit every day or do they dress strictly for a dress code? Gaining insight of attire that is appropriate can save you from the stress in deciding what to wear. A suit may not always be the best choice for an interview. For example, going in for an interview for a personal trainer position will require you to be dressed appropriately. If you show up wearing a suit and tie and all the employees are wearing athletic gear, you will feel uncomfortable and be unable to fully participate in the interview. The same is true if you show up in shorts and a t-shirt while everyone else is in business casual. Your first impression is then telling the company you might not a fit the position. Do your research and learn about the company’s culture.

How to dress for the job title you want

Step 2: Big No’s
Although bright colors may look like the best way to get someone’s attention, it is a big no when it comes to your interview. Choose more neutral colors for your outfit like gray, black, brown, or white for a clean and professional look. Another thing you want to avoid is revealing clothing. The last thing that you want to worry about is second-guessing the length of your skirt. The same applies to men as well. You don’t want to worry about having to tuck in your shirt constantly. Next, we’ve all heard the saying, “less is more.” This rule applies when you’re adding on details with jewelry or other accessories. These details are meant to enhance your appearance, not the opposite. With shoes, avoid wearing uncomfortable and dirty shoes. Again, we are aiming for comfort because you’re focus should be on the interview, not what you’re wearing. And I think we all also know why your shoes should be clean.

Step 3: Accessorizing
Accessorizing your outfit can enhance your overall appearance and add a little personality. When accessorizing you should still play it safe and be smart about the details you’re adding. There is no limit to how much you can accessorize your outfit, but remember that simple is good. For example, sometimes all you need to complete the look is a watch and a belt to match your shoes or matching stud earrings and a necklace. Finally, one of my tricks is to dress up a bit more than your interviewer. It’ll be impressive and lets the interviewer know you are there to get the position. For example, if the normal work attire is business casual, aim for a business formal look. And of course, this knowledge is obtained by doing your research.

Step 4: Presentation
Having your outfit selected is half the battle. The other half is the presentation. Always make sure your clothes are clean and ironed if necessary. Wrinkled and dirty clothes will take away from the effort you put into dressing the part. It will speak louder than the matching top and bottom you have on or the details you added with a belt or necklace. Your clothes should also fit true to your size and not look like you borrowed the outfit or outgrew it. You’re already nervous about the interview you shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable too.

In addition to your outfit, the other part of your presentation also lies in grooming yourself and hygiene. Make sure you don’t look like you just woke up and threw on the outfit. Clean yourself up by brushing your teeth for good breath, deodorant, and anything else to make you feel confident.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Kimberly’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Rodion Kutsaev

What Does an All-Day Interview Look Like?

By: Tori

So you have an interview – AMAZING!

You are interested in the company and they are interested in you – GREAT!

They tell you to come in for an all-day interview from 9am to 3pm – HOLY CATS THAT’S LONG!

Have no fear! An all-day interview can seem extremely intimidating – but they aren’t meant to be! Usually, when a company asks you to come spend the day on their campus it is because they see true potential in you as a future employee and you should have confidence in that. They want to give you the full experience of what the culture and typical work day is like at their company.

I recently had an all-day interview with a company and learned a lot about who the company is, what they stand for, and their company culture. Below is the schedule they sent me before my interview:

9-9:30 – Welcome and Introductions
9:30-10:30 – Overview of the company and the Program
10:30-11:00 – Case Study Prep
11:00-12:00 – Case Study Presentation
12:00-1:00 – Meet with current employees and have lunch
1:00-2:00 – Final Round Interview
2:00-3:00 – Tour

Honestly, by the end of the day, I was equally energized and exhausted. I had an exciting day of meeting new people, talking myself up, and a long day of moving, acting alive when I felt dead, and trying to gauge the company as a whole.

empty conference room - Tips for thriving in all-day interviews

After my all-day interview I compiled a few tips for you all as you prepare for your 9am-3pm interview gig:

Dress appropriately

  • Wear comfortable shoes – you might walk around a lot!
  • Bring a blazer or nice jacket in case you get cold throughout the day, nothing is worse than shivering for 8 hours.

Drink coffee/Water
Stay hydrated and caffeinated throughout the day. It is easy to get tired after listening and talking to different people, but you always want to keep a great first impression – so keep the energy up, and KIP-it (Keep It Positive).

Have more questions than you thought you could ask!
Nothing is more awkward than when people ask if you have any questions and you’ve already used them all up on other people. Employees want to be a resource for you as you discern if this is the right company and job for you – so have questions to ask all different kinds of people!

Be ready for anything – Have expectations, but realistic ones.
I went into my campus visit thinking the day would be packed and very formal. It was quite the opposite. There was a lot of downtime to just talk with the other students interviewing, those already involved in the program, and just to wait for others to finish their case studies and presentations. Your experience may be the opposite of mine, but having realistic expectations and not completely relying on them will help you be able to better understand and get a feel for the company.

The dreaded Case Study – Don’t sweat!
Usually, when you do a case study you are presented with a problem and then asked to share how you would solve it – interviewers just want to see how you will approach the problem and if you can present your solutions clearly. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and be creative – this will help you stand out among other candidates – especially if you are interviewing with them on the same day!

Almost always, you will be in a group of other candidates for your All-Day Interview.

  • Don’t be shy – talk with them and get to know them. Being social and friendly is a great way to practice before your interview, and current employees can see your personality as you talk with other candidates.
  • This also means there is competition. Use this to drive you! Before your campus visit – think of ways you stand out from the crowd and hone in on them. What makes you different? What experiences do you have that not very many other people have? Use these to highlight who you are during your campus visit.

Good luck with your interviews!

Of Possible Interest:

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Breather