Mod Note (Andy): this comment was originally posted in The Phone Call that Never Was and I thought it deserved it's own blog post for those that missed it.
When I first started full-time, I would enthusiastically respond to every recruiting email I got from undergrads, knowing that I was in their shoes not long ago and wished someone paid some attention to me.
As time goes by, my response rate has dropped significantly while the barrage of emails only increased (I go to a lot of recruiting events and hand out my card when I interview candidates)
Here's what happens when your email hits my inbox (times are arbitrary)...
1) You email me at 11AM on a Monday morning.
Things are slow on my end. I've been reading the news since I got in. I recognize your name as the kid who asked a good question at the info session or you mentioned that one of my analyst friends referred you. Or we're from the same hometown. Or we both did the same extra-curricular in college. Whatever. Something piques my interest and I feel like we might get along. I email back immediately to set up a time that afternoon when I know things will still be slow.
2) You email me at 2PM on a Wednesday
I just pulled an allnighter last night and we're still working through the day to get the deck out to a Board. I haven't had lunch yet. As I'm typing you a response saying this week might not work, I get four emails from the team asking why a number doesn't tie. I discard the draft and work on more pressing matters. 10 hours later, the book is finally out and I wrapped up other requests, I could respond to your email or I could get the first little bit of shut-eye in 48 hours. Your email goes into my "Recruitment" folder and you don't hear from me until you follow-up.
3) You spell my name wrong or half way through the email, your font changes.
I know you just copy and pasted that from some other email. I could respond to you, but why bother when you put so little time into it and I got four other people waiting to hear back from me.
4) You email me and say you're free at 3-4pm on Friday and 8-9am on Monday to chat.
This is the most likely scenario actually. I could try to schedule you in, but I'm on a bunch of live deals and I know things are going to flare up at that time. If a MD is hovering around my cube waiting for a draft, I can't drop everything to call you. So we're going to reschedule multiple times and it'll be frustrating for everyone. Instead, I'm just going to ignore you and hope that when you follow-up, you give me less ridiculous times to call you. Nota bene: bankers get in between 9 and 10. Don't even think about scheduling something at 8:30.
5) You email me at 2AM on Saturday night, or any late nights/weekends for that matter
If you only read one thing from my long response, read this. NEVER, EVER, EVER EMAIL BANKERS AT ODD HOURS. We have blackberries and weekend emails means sudden staffings, emergency meetings, more comments for that painful deal. When we see that stupid blinking red light when we're out with friends at a bar, we panic and envision the worst case scenario - saying goodbye to friends we haven't seen in weeks, hauling our drunk selves back to the office, and fixing a model the first year associate refed out because they don't understand circularity. Then we realize it's some undergrad brat trying to network with us. We read your email with hatred and then go back to drinking our sorrows away. Along the same vein, when setting up coffee chats, don't do it on the weekend. Why would I spend my precious weekend helping undergraduates I don't know?!
So after all that, here are the key take-aways
- Banker response rates are very random. Don't take it personally that we don't respond. Some people don't respond period, so it's us, not you. Some people get busy and forget to respond, again, it's us, not you.
- Remember that recruiting is just 1% of a banker's workload. This is something I didn't understand early on in recruiting. I thought people just sat there waiting for my emails. We get hundreds of deal-related emails every day. Recruitment doesn't affect our bonus and ranking for the most part. Those of us who are actively involved do it because we care. After a recruiting trip, I'm always staying up really late in my hotel room trying to catch-up on work that piled up during the day. The next morning, I'm flying back on a 6am and going straight to the office to do more work. Try to understand that.
- Nothing wrong with following-up. It helps us remember your name. I'd do it two more times max and then just move on to someone else
- Say this, "I understand that you are very busy and that these times may not work for you. Please let me know and I will work around your schedule. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to me." Fact: We love hearing how busy we are.
- Mention your background in your email.
- Be flexible, give large chunks of times that you're available