Career Tips

Follow the Call to a Great Career

Headshot of NJM employee Dave, with title "Alumni Showcase."

David enrolled in Kean University in Union, New Jersey, in 1989 as a Communications major. He didn’t know what his future career would look like, just that he was interested in English.

He excelled in college, serving as President of the Kean Communications Association. He took a journalism class and wrote for the school newspaper. Eventually, he was writing album reviews and conducting interviews with bands for the Arts and Entertainment section of the paper.

“I look back on my years at the school,” David said, “and I had a great experience. Even though my major was not a direct route to my career, what I learned has stayed with me.”

After graduating from Kean, David kept up with his writing for a short time, but he quickly realized that freelance journalism was not for him. He took on a job in healthcare but kept an eye on job postings. He found an opening looking for people with both interview skills and knowledge of medical terminology.

During that interview, David says, the headhunter asked, “How long have you known you wanted to be a recruiter?”

David’s honest answer: “Is that what this is? I didn’t even know that’s what I was interviewing for.” But that didn’t stop him from taking the job. In fact, he learned that, although recruiting is not a common job that many people aspire to, it is a career that can be extremely rewarding for those who fall into it.

“My experience in journalism and that first medical job made me perfect for that role,” David reflected. “It didn’t seem like a natural path when it was happening, but looking back, my journey from interviewing artists to recruiting for hospitals and then an insurance company really makes the most sense.”

Few People Have a Straight Career Path

Most people, unless they train for a very specialized career, transition from one plan to another after college.

“When I was in college, if you had said to me, “You’ll be talking to people all day as a recruiter,” I would have said, “There’s no way,” said David. “But life has a way of surprising you.”

For current college students, David recommends getting involved to prepare yourself for the many possibilities that you face after graduation.

  • Join clubs and organizations

  • Volunteer for special projects in school and at work

  • Network and make connections

  • Make yourself available to help others

  • Focus on your personal growth

These are all starting points for professional growth, that build your social collateral and your knowledge base.

Even though he didn’t plan for it as a student at Kean University, talent acquisition has been the path that has made David happy for almost 25 years now.

Career Advancement Is About Commitment

David took his first leadership role in 1999, just a few years after he entered the field of recruitment. He attributes his early rise to his dedication to his job.

“I felt very strongly about my work,” David said. “I was results driven, I did the best I could, and I wanted the end product to represent that commitment.”

He contributed to process improvement, volunteered for projects, and built credibility in his role. His coworkers and leaders recognized his efforts and granted him roles of increasing leadership.

Still, he felt like he had room to keep growing, so he started to consider going back to school for his MBA. Looking to gain skills in motivating a team, forecasting numbers, and decision making with data, David enrolled in the University of Phoenix. He started taking night classes at the school’s campus in Philadelphia.

“I don’t think there’s ever an age when you should stop learning,” said David. But growth doesn’t necessarily mean matriculating with more degrees or certifications. David is a member of the Society of Human Resource Managers, always keeping up with the latest trends in his industry and following market data and benchmark data.

“We’re experiencing innovation at a rate that is unprecedented, not just as a company but as a country,” David said. “Technology and best practices change all the time, and you have to keep learning to maintain your value as an employee.”

Finding a Home at NJM

In 2014, David was working for a headhunter company that contracted with NJM Insurance Group. He performed talent acquisition, project management, and performance improvement tasks for NJM.

One day, a colleague drew David’s attention to the free soup in NJM’s cafeteria and told him the story. NJM started serving free hot soup in its cafeterias during the Great Depression to support employees who needed every extra dollar for their families at home. It’s a tradition that continues to this day.

“These little things make NJM the company it is,” David said. “NJM takes care of people, whether they are policyholders or employees.”

He joined NJM full time in 2015.

“I’ve never been happier with an employer. There’s a friendly and welcoming environment and incredible benefits. NJM is a growing, financially strong company, one of those companies with an amazing culture and an amazing story that can provide a really satisfying career.”

He finds true satisfaction in recruiting for NJM. Each new position presents a different puzzle, requiring a fresh assessment of the market, economy, and candidate pool. Plus, he loves to see the people he’s recruited in NJM’s hallways, conference rooms, and cafeteria.

“This role is so special to me because I’ve helped so many people find the opportunity that could change their lives and their family’s lives, in a meaningful way,” David said. “If you’re lucky, throughout your lifetime you’ll find that one role at that one company that makes you feel genuine excitement for working. I believe NJM is that place.”

He encourages job hunters to keep an open mind. The insurance industry might not be an obvious first choice for everyone, but there are just as many opportunities, complexities, challenges, and rewards in insurance as there are in other, glitzier industries. “To not be willing to explore your options would be a mistake. Look beyond your expectations and ask yourself, ‘How will that role help me grow?’”

Are you considering a career move? Join us!

NJM Talent Acquisition Team
NJM Insurance Group

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