Friday, May 9, 2008

Reading the Hiring Manager Mind – Kelly Royer of Northwestern Mutual

Today’s Reading the Hiring Manager Mind features Kelly Royer, Director of Recruiting and Development for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. Kelly oversees Recruitment & Development for full time Financial Representatives and College Financial Representative in NML’s Intern program.

Northwestern Mutual was ranked the #1 service company to sell for in the 11/07 Selling Power survey, the Most admired Life Insurance Company each year since 1983 in Fortune Magazine’s annual survey, and ranked in America’s Top Ten Internships each year since 1997 in Value Guide to Internships annual ranking.

reCareered: Kelly, thanks for joining us today. How is NML’s business these days? Are you hiring?
Kelly Royer: We’re going strong, but our growth depends on increased hiring.

reCareered: What is your best source for candidates?
Kelly Royer: The way that NML recruits is different than most. I talk to hubs, or centers of influence, who refer me to great people. Referrals are our #1 source of talent.

reCareered: What is the profile of people you hire for NML?
Kelly Royer: We generally look for early-mid career professionals who want to get into sales. We typically don’t look for new grads, and want people who will be able work long enough to take advantage of the annuity cash flows they build from client renewals. However, we do hire current college students for an internship program.

reCareered: Can you elaborate?
Kelly Royer: We look for Accountants, Financial Service Operations, Engineers, Health Care, Customer Service, etc. A good candidate for us is someone who always wanted to get into sales, but weren’t able to get past political boundaries in their past career.

reCareered: What types of skills do you look for in candidates?
Kelly Royer: I look for people who 1) quickly build trust - I mean, if I’m going to invest money with someone, I need to trust them; 2) have great communications skills; 3) can demonstrate at least one accomplishment; 4) are entrepreneurial and ambitious; 5) are likeable – Can I go to dinner or have a beer with this person?

reCareered: What types of networking events have you found helpful in recruiting?
Kelly Royer: I’ve only tried the Chamber of Commerce events, with mixed results.

reCareered: Have you seen many people from the Real Estate or Mortgage industry these days?
Kelly Royer: We saw mortgage people, until rates dropped again. We continuously see people with Real Estate backgrounds. We see a lot of Financial Services people in analytical roles who want to make the move to sales.

reCareered: How about people moving into the Chicago area?
Kelly Royer: We concentrate on people who have already built a strong network in the Chicago metro area.

reCareered: What sorts of questions do you ask to determine if a candidate is the right fit for NML?
Kelly Royer: I’ll ask what a candidate’s goals & priorities are. If a candidate isn’t money motivated, they aren’t going to be a good fit for our sales culture. I’m interested when a candidate tells me they want to make 6 figures minimum. I’ll also want to know what outside activities they participate in, to gain insight into how well rounded and well networked they are.

reCareered: What are some deal killers for you with candidates?
Kelly Royer: I look for inconsistencies in answers – are they saying the same thing, or changing their tune? I also look at how they describe their former (or current) employers – Do they blame past employers or take personal responsibility? If a candidate bad mouths a past employer, what will they say about NML?

reCareered: Kelly, how often do you receive paper or fax resumes?
Kelly Royer: I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a paper or faxed resume. These days, everything comes in via email, from our website, or the job boards.

reCareered: How much time do you spend reviewing a resume?
Kelly Royer: Just a few seconds before the interview. I review the resume to get an idea of some questions I can ask. I’m more interested in how a candidate describes their experience rather than the detail of their experience.

reCareered: Do you look at a candidate’s cover letter?
Kelly Royer: No…I’m getting my questions and insight from the resume

Kelly, thanks for letting us read your mind today. If budding salespeople want to learn more about working for a company ranked Best to Sell for, email your resume to Kelly at Better yet, network your way to her through LinkedIN.

About Kelly Royer: As Director of Recruiting and Development for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, Kelly oversees Recruitment & Development for full time Financial Representatives, and NML’s Intern program. Find out more at

About reCareered: If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

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