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Career Conversations - Katie Fischer

Overwhelmed By the Job Search? Check Out These Best Practices to Get on Track

Katie Fischer

By Katie Fischer, Vice President, North America Head of Exchange Traded Derivatives, Northern Trust Corporation

As we start to close out the summer months, teachers and students are returning to the classroom and recent graduates, college seniors, and other individuals are looking to relocate or find a new home in their career journey. No matter the stage of your career, the process can often feel overwhelming and is met with a sense of unwavering anxiety.

As someone who defines her success not necessarily in dollar figures but in what she can accomplish, I find that career conversations with recent graduates and the more junior members of the workforce are enlightening.

In the multiple presentations on careers in finance that I have been able to share, the most common answer I receive from students when asking what they want to do after graduation is “analyst.” I often meet this question with a smile and a very large tree graph with hundreds of branches. I use the graph as a depiction of the vast array of analyst positions that make up the financial industry. The overwhelming looks—and often panic—that I am met with once this graph appears typically kicks off a discussion about how I got to where I am today, and what they should do to activate these goals for themselves.

I often encourage them to start with the most basic of things and do Google searches that will be met with hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs that appear with “analyst” in the title. Encouraging them to understand what their career goals are and to outline their plan for finding the right role will ensure that they aren’t applying too many times at one company and will also help them target the correct positions.

Below, I have outlined some of the best practices to use when searching for your next position. It is important to make a plan with some key deliverable dates to hold yourself accountable and to make sure that you are meeting your objectives.

Strengthen Your Resume

Organizations are receiving hundreds of applications per position. Ensuring that your resume has key words that align to both the job posting and the interests of the company will gain the attention of a hiring manager. Leverage job listings for other roles in the field and individual LinkedIn profiles of people who already hold the job you wish to have. Identify the common skills, traits, and experiences and tie those back into your resume.

Create a LinkedIn Profile

Having a LinkedIn profile is just as important as a resume. LinkedIn is one of the first stops most recruiters make in considering candidates, so make sure your profile is updated with all your work experience, licenses/certificates, and key words. Most companies review applicants’ profiles to see their employment history, experience, and accomplishments. This is also where you get referrals or endorsements on things you may have achieved or partnerships with other individuals in the industry. It also is a place where you can start to establish your voice in the industry by creating posts about news or issues related to industry hot topics.

Do Your Homework

Not only is it important to understand what the companies you are applying to do, but also to understand their mission and any gaps they are trying to fill. Making sure that you are applying to companies that align with who you are as an individual will help make you a more viable candidate and will connect you to the organization.

Customize Your Application

Once you have identified the role you are going to apply for, it is important to align your resume and/or cover letter to the organization. Touch on key elements of the job description, the corporate mission/values, and how you tie into the needs of the company. Being able to showcase these key elements will help the human resources consultant and recruiters differentiate you from other candidates.

Make Connections

Network with professionals who are either doing the job, or have done the job, that you are seeking. Conducting informational interviews gives you insight to what the day-to-day role may be like, as well as how they went about achieving that career. It expands your professional network and may create an opportunity for a referral. You can also participate in conferences and workshops related to your desired field. Most professional organizations have student discounts or partial free points of entry.

Prepare for the Interview

Once you have made it past the gatekeepers, it is your time to shine in the interview. Depending on the company and role you are interviewing for, the process can be intense and encompass multiple sets of interviews. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that people are people, and at some point everyone who is interviewing you has sat in the same seat as you are now.

You should come to the interview well prepared. Know who you are interviewing with, have information about their background and the organization’s background, and know why they are looking to fill this role. It is also imperative to be able to tell your interviewers what makes you the best candidate for the position. Having questions prepared about key things you are looking for in an organization, as well as about the manager’s management style, will help you decide whether the position is right for you.


Katie Fischer is Vice President, North America Head of Exchange Traded Derivatives, Northern Trust Corporation. She serves as a member of the Career Management Center Advisory Board at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business.

Posted August 17, 2023

Career Conversations is presented by the Stuart School of Business Career Management Center.

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