Happy New Year! My name is Jayla Blakemore and I am the newest member of the NPR team. I am from Powder Springs, GA, and graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in Financial Planning. After experiencing the transition from a full-time student to a full-time recruiter (amidst a pandemic), I have a few key takeaways for job seekers in the financial planning industry.
Hindsight is always 20/20. It gives you the clarity of what you could have, would have or, should have done. Although I had worked several part-time jobs during my college career, went to many career fairs and resume reviews, there were still many things that I learned along the way when searching for a full-time career opportunity.
I am an anomaly among my classmates and many others in the financial planning industry. As my senior year began, and I started to get in the mindset of post-graduate plans, I knew for a fact that I did not want to go straight to working in a firm and creating financial plans, if ever. As a long-standing Tour Leader at the University of Georgia Visitors Center, I grew a passion for recruiting and being a source of information for people and helping them decide where they want to take their next steps. I applied for a few jobs in the Fall 2019 semester but started to ramp my search up during the spring semester, as we simultaneously entered a pandemic. Someone had once said to me amidst me changing majors, “You need to love where you work, the right opportunity comes after that.” I carried that with me as I completed numerous applications, many that went unanswered.
After receiving offers, declining offers, and finally finding the right position for myself, I reflect on what I wish I would have known as a rising senior that could have made my search more meaningful and efficient.
The first step in starting a job search should start with making sure that you have working documents that can be tailored as you apply (resume, cover letter, CV, etc.). This is the very first thing that a recruiter or firm owner may know of you, so you want it to make a lasting impact. And you want to tailor your materials and not send the same template to each firm. Yes, it will take more time, but can pay massive dividends if you get hired into your dream position because of it.
Seek a mentor! A mentor can assist you and give you additional perspective on your search, applications, interviews, and just be a listening ear for concerns you may have as your job search unfolds. I wish I would have sought more mentorship within the profession because I think it would have helped steer me in the right direction, faster.
Networking is something that has been stressed to students through and through; it is important to be diligent about your follow through with your network. A lot of what a firm is looking for is in your work ethic and your approach to things. Beginning a job search or any search for new opportunities requires self-reflection and awareness; make a list of things you require of the new opportunity, talents, and skills you would like to be able to utilize, notes on company culture, leadership styles you desire, and how you can be supported in evolving within your career and personally. These are not only good things to know for yourself, but also make for good questions for you to ask potential employers and mentors.
In financial planning specifically, it is important to not only know what you want the role to look like but also the firm. This is an industry where you often get to work closely with the CEO/President/Firm Owner; the firm is their baby and they are looking for someone to come in having researched how to take care of their baby. A firm’s form ADV (advisor disclosure vet) is a great way to assess their practices and how you may fit into them and be able to contribute. It is also important to note that the timing of finding a job after college varies; it takes different amounts of time for each person to find their ideal opportunity in the industry because each of them is unique. I would have drawn great value from knowing that not having a job in May, even amidst a pandemic, was not the end of the world.
The financial planning industry is not limited to being a planner or a firm owner. Every job and department that a business needs to run is a career that someone can pursue in this field. There are roles in operations, recruiting, coaching, academia, research, counseling, and many more that people in the financial planning industry would thrive in based on their knowledge in the field. Don’t limit your search or yourself to only being a planner just because that is what your degree practice is in, the sky's the limit.
As I have transitioned from full-time student to full-time employee, I have continued to improve and challenge myself. A part of me joining the workforce was moving into a space of my own and requiring more independence of myself. Moving away from your family home or your college living arrangement is more than just a physical move, it is a mental transition. Moving into a place of my own has been a goal of mine since I started to think about my job search. Living on my own has required an additional level of responsibility that coincides with what is required of me at work. It is a continuity of a lot of firsts. It was my first time setting up utilities, paying rent, signing my lease with no help from my parents, shopping for furniture, and all of the other small things that are a part of the big picture. It has been a transition from calling my parents for every new “adult” experience, to doing things myself and learning the hard way. Growing and learning in my personal life has been a large part of my continued development in my professional life.
I am learning consistently and have transitioned my yearning to succeed academically to yearning to succeed in my career. This field is one that is very team-centric and the Financial Planning program at UGA well prepared me for the team environment. The importance of deciding on a job opportunity stems long past your ability to complete the tasks in the job description; it is also your responsibility to envision yourself working alongside the other team members. My transition into the workforce was made easier by my education and internship experience— I can see the importance of things I did two and three years ago professionally and academically. It is essential to be authentic, ask a lot of questions, and have a positive attitude; the former has been a key part of me not feeling much resistance in my transition into the working world.
Starting your career is a big step in your life, and will be met with challenges; a shortlist to finding the right career is humility, to do the work, and utilizing your resources. If you are a college senior, his is a great time to begin your career search if you have not already. The team at New Planner Recruiting is eager to assist you in finding the perfect opportunity, or simply lending an ear during this stressful time. I would love to hear from you and how I can assist in your journey. Click here to send me a note along with your resume if you are seeking a smooth transition and a great start to your career!