Insider Tips From a Tech Recruiter: How to Confidently Land Your Next Role

Sponsored by Northwestern Mutual – Corporate Careers

Janae Laury

Photo courtesy of Northwestern Mutual.

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“If you’re looking to elevate your career, it’s important that you identify your career goals and grant yourself the confidence to go after them,” shares Janae Laury, a Lead Technical Recruiter for the technology space at Northwestern Mutual

“There will be multiple paths to your goal, part of your journey is navigating the path that works best for you and realizing the steps you need to take,” Janae tells us. This may seem daunting, but be confident in your abilities and know that your career is yours to own. “I have the opportunity to direct my career and where I'd like to see it go,” reflects Janae. “I just have to visualize it and plan how to get there."

So far, this confidence, determination and drive has landed Janae a tech recruiter role at Northwestern Mutual. “What I love most is being able to connect candidates to their dream careers and sharing my knowledge,” explains Janae. “Being in the industry for 15 years, I’m able to share feedback and wisdom about what a hiring manager wants to see, so candidates have insider tips to work with.”

And, today, she’s sharing this insider knowledge with you. Read on for her best advice on how to get your next dream role.

Part 1: Applying and Interview Prep

How do you suggest women get through automated systems when applying? 

When it comes to automated systems, usually they are applicant tracking systems, which relate to how your resume is formatted. So, think through the keywords you're using. Are you speaking the language of your industry? Did you review the job description and align the language in the description with the words on your resume? Those tiny adjustments can create an impactful difference in making your resume more visible.

What about making that personal connection — do you recommend candidates reach out to current recruiters or employees for informational interviews before applying?

As for reaching out to current employees, LinkedIn is a great tool for this. With online networking, you can reach out to the hiring leaders or employees to try and build relationships with people who work at your desired company. And, when you’re researching connections at the company, you may even find a common connection who can help make an introduction.  

What tips do you have for women who are considering a career change and want to break into a totally new role or industry? How can they best make their application standout? 

Seek out opportunities that will provide you experience, whether that's an internship, coding boot camp, or a certification program. Get exposure, and make sure you articulate these relevant experiences during an interview. 

Also, anytime you're trying to break into something new, it's important to immerse yourself in that environment and surround yourself with people who speak that language. Networking is crucial and critical as it helps to create advocates who will speak your name in rooms that you're not in, and that's invaluable.

How do you suggest candidates prepare for an interview? 

I always recommend candidates prepare their answers using the STAR method (situation, task, action, and results), because that showcases your process or a system of thinking. When you structure your answers that way, it helps interviewers walk through your process with you. 

When answering questions, avoid vague responses. Recruiters are looking for specific examples of what you've done in the past. If you're not able to answer a question in a way that showcases relevant examples, think of an example that relates to at least a portion of the question.

Also, take time to think about your elevator pitch, a 30-second pitch that answers the standard "tell me about yourself" question. Look up common interview questions that align with the type of role that you're targeting, and then practice your answers. Try writing them out and practicing with someone so that it becomes comfortable and it just rolls off the tongue. Preparation builds confidence. And confidence is one of the main keys to interviewing.

Part 2: Having a Successful Interview 

Let’s talk about the interview. What are you typically looking for? 

At Northwestern Mutual, we think about competencies. We want to figure out: Do you know how to collaborate well? Are you a problem solver? Do you value differences? Are you open to change? Do you have change agility? Do you act strategically? With these types of questions, we're looking to see what kind of impact they may have on our culture.

What are your biggest tips for what NOT to do when interviewing at a company?

As recruiters we understand things happen, and technology doesn't always work, but I always tell candidates to prepare and give themselves plenty of time for the unknown. Try not to be late to an interview, and, if you are, it’s important to acknowledge the wait. 

And make sure you research the company that you're interviewing for, if not, it can show a lack of interest. For example, for a role at Northwestern Mutual, it's great if people know what we do, our vision and mission, and how we’re focused on helping clients with comprehensive financial planning using cutting-edge technology. 

Sometimes we might not have an immediate answer to a recruiter’s question. What do you recommend a candidate does in these instances? 

You can always implement strategies to buy time organically, such as asking the recruiter to repeat the question, or repeating the question yourself. You can also say, "Oh wow, that’s a great question,” while you're thinking of a relevant example or a response to the question. 

Any other advice you’d offer to candidates interviewing for a new role?

When seeking a new role, make sure you’re stepping into your power. Interviewing is a two-way street. Use the interview as an opportunity to really assess if the role and/or company is right for you by asking smart questions. 

There's a saying that I heard over the years, "People will be persuaded more by the depth of your conviction, than by the height of your logic, more by your enthusiasm and your belief, than by any proof.The value you place on yourself is what they'll adopt. And that's not just a monetary value, it’s everything. 

Part 3: Post-Interview Advice

Anything in terms of follow-up or best practices after the interview is over? 

Candidates ask all the time, "Hey, should I send a follow-up? Should I send a thank you?" And my answer is unequivocally yes. You absolutely should. A lot of the time, what sets one candidate apart from another is a very good thank you note. Hiring teams do talk and share gestures, including thank you notes, so it's important to send a unique thank you that references something specific from the interview and reiterates your interest. That goes a long way.

Why you should consider joining the Northwestern Mutual Team.

What is great about working at Northwestern Mutual?

It's not every day that you get to work for or pursue an opportunity at a company with a mission such as ours. Northwestern Mutual is truly changing lives and reducing financial anxiety through financial education and planning. If you're looking for a company that has a true impact, that's Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern Mutual offers a plethora of resources that employees can use to develop professionally in areas we’ve deemed as an opportunity based on feedback from our colleagues or leaders. As a culture we believe that this is your career, and so the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. And you can realize your career goals with the resources, support, and opportunities available through Northwestern Mutual.

How would you describe tech at Northwestern Mutual?

Northwestern Mutual is a 165-year-old stable company with a start-up mentality. Not many companies have been able to pivot or adapt with the times the way Northwestern Mutual has. It speaks to the fact that we are taking chances but also that this is a very secure and stable company with a rich history, and an even richer future.

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