Career Stories

This Fintech Recruiter Shares His Top Tips for Acing an Interview (and He’s Hiring Engineers)

Niko Read, a recruiter at Personal Capital
Niko Read, a recruiter at Personal Capital.
| Courtesy of Niko Read

Having an interest in other people can translate into a variety of careers. For Niko Read, it led him to three different paths—as a therapist, a salesperson, and now a recruiter at digital wealth management company Personal Capital.

“I believe every job I’ve had has prepared me for the next one,” says Read, who first joined Personal Capital in a sales role before pivoting into recruitment at the company. “Throughout my career, there have been many soft skills I’ve learned such as empathy, active listening, and asking the right questions—all of which have been valuable in my different positions.”

Here, Read talks about what inspired each career change he’s made, how candidates can stand out during a job interview, and why practicing 60 seconds of mindfulness is a game changer.

You’ve gone through various pivots over the course of your career. Tell us about your journey and how you got to where you are today.

I graduated with degrees in both psychology and criminal justice, and then I pursued a master’s in clinical mental health counseling. I have always been intrigued in human behavior and I benefitted from my own time in therapy, so I wanted to become a therapist and help others walk through their most difficult challenges.

After working in several therapist roles, I was presented with an opportunity to work in a traveling training/sales role, which allowed me to see places I never thought I would. When the pandemic happened and I was unable to travel for my job, I realized that I enjoyed the travel and client interactions more than the product itself. I was then approached to work at Personal Capital and use my sales skills to pitch a new service. The skills I learned from my counseling degree along with my previous sales experience allowed me to connect with potential clients on the emotional topic of their money and quickly find success in an industry I knew very little about.

What attracted you to Personal Capital? How did you know the company would be a good fit?

One of my best friends, who was a financial advisor at Personal Capital at the time, told me about the open positions. He had been with the company for several years, and I knew it would be a great fit based on how he described the culture. Personal Capital is a place where you’re valued and your skills are noticed. The team environment allows for collaborative competition while also encouraging coworkers to build strong relationships with each other. Your managers push you to be successful and do all they can to get you to the next phase of your career based on your interests.

Tell us about your move from sales into recruiting at Personal Capital. How did the company support you during your internal transition?

I fell in love with the company and was looking for more ways to contribute to its culture. I started to get involved in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) subcommittee that focused on recruiting efforts at Personal Capital. This sparked a passion to become a recruiter and help continue the positive culture as well as improve our diversity efforts.

Personal Capital was nothing short of amazing when it came to helping me change roles. Both my previous manager and my new manager were open and understanding about this opportunity and helped make the transition seamless.

What were the keys to your success when navigating your career changes?

The major keys to my success have been taking the skills I previously learned and understanding how those skills applied to my next role. From being a therapist to talking to job applicants, the ability to connect and communicate with people from all walks of life has been invaluable.

In what area is Personal Capital growing most rapidly right now?

Currently, I am working to fill roles on our engineering side of the business, specifically front-end and web user interface (UI) engineers. Due to the growth we have had, most teams within our engineering and technology departments are hiring and we’re looking for more engineers to join us.

How does Personal Capital hire with diversity in mind?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are top of mind for all of us at Personal Capital, and we’ve created an inclusive and fair interview process for all of our candidates. All recruiters and hiring managers are trained on interviewing best practices to help make sure unconscious bias does not creep in during the hiring process. We intentionally select and partner with a number of vendors that share similar core values to ours, including diversity job boards and partners focused on LGBTQ equity in the workplace to try and reach more diverse candidates.

What tips do you have for candidates applying for roles at Personal Capital? What can they do to stand out?

When applying for positions at Personal Capital, the biggest tip I have is make sure you review the job description in detail and make sure that your resume reflects many of the skills listed—and come ready to discuss those skills! It’s also important to do your due diligence on the company and bring your true, authentic self to the interview. Your personality and confidence is a skill we want to see.

What do you like the most about being a recruiter? And what is the biggest challenge?

My favorite part about being a recruiter is hearing candidates’ stories and goals, and why they think that they would be a good fit at Personal Capital. The biggest challenge is learning the different positions. We are tasked with hiring candidates for a variety of roles, many of which involve skills such as coding and software development knowledge. It’s important that I familiarize myself with the proper terminology so that I can understand the candidates’ skills. Although it is a challenge, I enjoy the fact that I am always learning something new and interacting with candidates from different backgrounds.

How has your diverse background helped you in your career?

It has taught me the importance of teamwork, persistence, and dedication. In all my roles, these things have helped propel me to my next endeavor. Recruiting is all about teamwork: While I may be the one doing the initial sourcing or interview, it’s on me to make sure I take the proper notes and ask the right questions so that my colleagues are prepared when it’s their time to address the candidate. Persistence is another key lesson I have learned and it has helped me develop resiliency.

Lastly, dedication has been a huge part of my career journey. We know that dedication involves finishing what you started. However, I would take that one step further and say that it’s not just about finishing a session, interview, or project just to check it off your list. It’s about exceeding at the task and making sure you have done all you can to present your best work and self.

How do you maintain work-life balance?

Having work-life balance can often be difficult, but it is so important. As a therapist, I was repeatedly taught the importance of self care and making sure outside factors such as work don’t consume me. At Personal Capital, the culture and benefits allow people to spend time on what’s important to them outside of work. Flexibility in hours and location help support family life, and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides resources for mental health and overall well-being.

I also do 60 seconds of mindfulness after I close my laptop every day to help my brain transition from work mode to husband-and-father mode. These 60 seconds really do help my mind and body adjust my focus.

Updated 9/9/2022