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.
- 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.
- 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!”
- 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 email@example.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
Photo sources: Unsplash | Andrej Lisakov; Amanda Goodman