• Sharebar

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

8

Comments (43)

  • kyleyboy's picture
  • ky0ung's picture

    when actually are the best times to chat?

  • In reply to ky0ung
    kyleyboy's picture

    ky0ung:
    when actually are the best times to chat?

    probably early in the day from what i hear
  • In reply to ky0ung
    gdxx's picture

    ky0ung:
    when actually are the best times to chat?

    It really differs depending on the day or the banker. I think for the most part it's pretty random, as I tried to convey with the post. I usually slot candidates in at around 11 or in the early afternoon, that way if I need to push the time back it won't cut into my dinner time. The analysts who sit near me tend to have conversations earlier on in the week as opposed to Thurs/Fri. We have a lot more energy earlier in the week whereas later on we're either sleep deprived, cranky, or antsy to get out of the office.

  • JPMortgage's picture

    What about the higher ups? Does most of this apply for them as well in terms of how they react to emails and so on.

    "If it were easy, everyone would do it"

  • Stryfe's picture

    So when would you say is the best time to send an e-mail? Anytime between 9-11AM on weekdays?

  • streetwannabe's picture

    +1

    "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

  • In reply to JPMortgage
    gdxx's picture

    JPMortgage:
    What about the higher ups? Does most of this apply for them as well in terms of how they react to emails and so on.

    Senior folks tend to operate a lot more often from their blackberries than junior bankers, as such, the timing probably isn't as relevant. I would imagine that they're less likely to respond during the evening when they're at home with their families (compared to analysts, who are all eating Seamless together in the office). Obviously don't read too much into the timing. All of this is anecdotal.

    I would still try to hit them during the time they're in front of a computer because you want them to add your appointment to their Outlook Calendars. If that Outlook alert doesn't pop up telling us to do something, we're not going to dig through our emails. Since senior people rely heavily on their administrative assistants to manage their schedule, it might be helpful to send them a reminder email 5-10 minutes before your call in case they didn't add it to Outlook.

  • NorthSider's picture

    While I certainly understand that many bankers are hyper-sensitive about "proper recruiting email etiquette", I don't see why receiving a recruiting email at an after-hours time is such a big deal that you'd consciously ignore that person going forward.

    I think the sad reality is that a lot of bankers are on the edge of their seats just waiting for you to do something they can joke about with their cube-mates. However, I think the whole process would be much more productive if both sides decided to chill out a bit.

    Hearing your Blackberry vibrate while you're out at the bar only to find out it is a recruiting email isn't the end of the world. While the OP tries to make it sound like all late-night emails are unexpected staffings or #REFed models, I receive plenty of automated corporate emails about new company card transactions and plenty of blasts from analysts in Europe or Asia that are even more irrelevant to me than a recruiting email from an undergrad. The only downside to emailing me after hours is that I'm less likely to respond than if I have down time during the day and get a message.

    I'd say the only points here that resonate with me are those relating to scheduling. If you give a really narrow window of time during which you're available to chat, I'll try to accommodate, but it gives the impression that you are too busy to network.

    One other note I'd add to this is remember to take time-zone differences into account! I can't tell you how many times I've scheduled calls with undergrads for a generic "1:00 PM", only to be sitting at my desk at 1:15 PM ET thinking to myself, "Well I guess that call wasn't very important to them." Without fail, my phone rings at 2:00 PM ET or (even worse) 4:00 PM ET and I wonder why I'm getting a call from a number I don't recognize. Always assume that the person emailing you is referring to times in their local time zone, and when scheduling calls, make sure to list the time zone with a simple "ET" or "CT" to avoid ambiguity.

    That said, unless I am completely jammed and have literally no time to spare, I respond to every recruiting email that I receive, even if just to say, "Today isn't great, shoot me an email tomorrow and we can work something out." I think we'd all benefit if everyone took recruiting a bit less seriously.

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • Bateman Begins's picture

    This is awesome. Kind of an insider view that you never get in all the "networking tips" posts.

    Read my blog: Bateman Begins

  • gdxx's picture

    NorthSider - Excellent points, especially about scheduling.

    I agree with you that we should take it easy with recruiting, which is why I'm hesitant to give people an exact window to email bankers. I wrote the post as a response to someone wondering why on earth we went from enthusiastically responding one moment to radio silence the next. I'm just hoping to demystify what's happening on our end a little and give people some options to maximize response rate.

    On a side note, to other analysts out there, I don't know if you guys do this but when I was a summer, the analysts taught me how to filter emails. Alt T + L on Outlook creates rules which automatically pulls emails into folders so you don't get a BB notification. I have my company card transactions, global blasts, mergermarket alerts etc. filtered so my BB doesn't get flooded. You can make the rules specific enough so you don't accidentally filter out important emails.

  • In reply to gdxx
    NorthSider's picture

    gdxx:
    NorthSider - Excellent points, especially about scheduling.

    I agree with you that we should take it easy with recruiting, which is why I'm hesitant to give people an exact window to email bankers. I wrote the post as a response to someone wondering why on earth we went from enthusiastically responding one moment to radio silence the next. I'm just hoping to demystify what's happening on our end a little and give people some options to maximize response rate.

    On a side note, to other analysts out there, I don't know if you guys do this but when I was a summer, the analysts taught me how to filter emails. Alt T + L on Outlook creates rules which automatically pulls emails into folders so you don't get a BB notification. I have my company card transactions, global blasts, mergermarket alerts etc. filtered so my BB doesn't get flooded. You can make the rules specific enough so you don't accidentally filter out important emails.

    Agreed, I think your post is very valuable and provides some much needed insight into the networking process from the other end of the table.

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • Newspeak's picture

    gdxx:

    - 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.

    Great post. It's funny, I have a line extremely similar to this in my networking emails.
  • 4335's picture

    Thanks for these tips, much appreciated.

  • koske's picture

    Honestly...

    Besides the obvious, poor formatting, emailing at weird hours etc etc the things a young wanna-be analyst can control should NEVER be mistakes! I get it we all go through a learning curve,some faster then others.

    But what it all boils down to is a bit of luck in my experience.

    You send the the email, you get a response, if the recipient is in a good mood you will get a positive response, or if he like in this case has been up for 48hr, he will be crotchety and send you a smug email, or not at all (which is fair in my opinion the dude has worked 30hrs + straight).

    Bottom line is, don't make fundamental mistakes that you can control (formatting,NAME!!!!,hours etc) try to send an email when you know things will be slow. With that said that is very hard to predict timing but try to make a educated guess.

    - Only time will tell....

  • mongoose's picture

    So, what is the best time to email a contact over the week?

  • Y2A's picture

    When I cold emailed analysts, associates, and vps at BBs, most of them said 4pm on Thursday was the best time to meet. As for best time to email, 11am-2pm (I.e. around lunch time). I did this for both IBD and S&T.

  • Walkerr's picture

    great insight, thanks

  • NorthSider's picture

    From my experience, catching someone right after they get into work and are just starting to plan out their day is the best. Right around 10:15 AM.

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • In reply to NorthSider
    rufiolove's picture

    NorthSider:
    While I certainly understand that many bankers are hyper-sensitive about "proper recruiting email etiquette", I don't see why receiving a recruiting email at an after-hours time is such a big deal that you'd consciously ignore that person going forward.

    I think the sad reality is that a lot of bankers are on the edge of their seats just waiting for you to do something they can joke about with their cube-mates. However, I think the whole process would be much more productive if both sides decided to chill out a bit.

    Hearing your Blackberry vibrate while you're out at the bar only to find out it is a recruiting email isn't the end of the world. While the OP tries to make it sound like all late-night emails are unexpected staffings or #REFed models, I receive plenty of automated corporate emails about new company card transactions and plenty of blasts from analysts in Europe or Asia that are even more irrelevant to me than a recruiting email from an undergrad. The only downside to emailing me after hours is that I'm less likely to respond than if I have down time during the day and get a message.

    I'd say the only points here that resonate with me are those relating to scheduling. If you give a really narrow window of time during which you're available to chat, I'll try to accommodate, but it gives the impression that you are too busy to network.

    One other note I'd add to this is remember to take time-zone differences into account! I can't tell you how many times I've scheduled calls with undergrads for a generic "1:00 PM", only to be sitting at my desk at 1:15 PM ET thinking to myself, "Well I guess that call wasn't very important to them." Without fail, my phone rings at 2:00 PM ET or (even worse) 4:00 PM ET and I wonder why I'm getting a call from a number I don't recognize. Always assume that the person emailing you is referring to times in their local time zone, and when scheduling calls, make sure to list the time zone with a simple "ET" or "CT" to avoid ambiguity.

    That said, unless I am completely jammed and have literally no time to spare, I respond to every recruiting email that I receive, even if just to say, "Today isn't great, shoot me an email tomorrow and we can work something out." I think we'd all benefit if everyone took recruiting a bit less seriously.

    I agree with this. I don't understand why so many of these kids act like the late night email is life or death. I typically know how the process I am involved with is going, so I am either expecting that late night email or I'm not. If I'm not in the go-no-go stage of a big transaction, I typically am not checking email after midnight unless I had anticipated receiving comments or emails back. If it hasn't gotten to me by then, my view is that it can be handled first thing in the morning. The preceding mind set may be derived from the fact that I'm well into final stages of my analyst stint, but even during my first year, unless it was deal critical, I wasn't waking up at 3 in the morning and coming back into the office to make changes. Typically, you will know if senior bankers are going to be giving you comments or asking you questions. If it is an out of the blue request and they ping you at 3:15am, then they should know that they aren't going to be likely to get a response until 8am... they could very well just be reaching out because they are traveling and just got back to the hotel and wanted to send the email before they forgot, or maybe they can't sleep so they are re-reading through an investor presentation and caught something that they want you to update in your deck / model.

    The point is that I agree with NorthSider in that any of the bankers out there who are getting pissed off because kids are sending them emails late at night... Turn the sound on your bb off and then just check when you need to, problem solved. They aren't wrecking your night by sending one extra email out of the 50 you are going to get anyway. I completely agree about the Autonotifications and blasts from international offices. Those don't stop and they are even more annoying that a kid from your school trying to reach out. We would all be better off if we didn't take ourselves so seriously. You don't need to make yourself feel more important by making some eager kid feel less important. If it bugs you, turn off the sound and ignore the email. This also works with emails from senior guys. You would be AMAZED to find out that the world doesn't stop spinning because you wait until morning to respond to an email.

  • In reply to gdxx
    rufiolove's picture

    gdxx:
    NorthSider - Excellent points, especially about scheduling.

    I agree with you that we should take it easy with recruiting, which is why I'm hesitant to give people an exact window to email bankers. I wrote the post as a response to someone wondering why on earth we went from enthusiastically responding one moment to radio silence the next. I'm just hoping to demystify what's happening on our end a little and give people some options to maximize response rate.

    On a side note, to other analysts out there, I don't know if you guys do this but when I was a summer, the analysts taught me how to filter emails. Alt T + L on Outlook creates rules which automatically pulls emails into folders so you don't get a BB notification. I have my company card transactions, global blasts, mergermarket alerts etc. filtered so my BB doesn't get flooded. You can make the rules specific enough so you don't accidentally filter out important emails.

    That's a good point about creating rules, but my emails still show up on my bb even though they get filtered on my computer at work. I've asked tech about this and they said there isn't a way to fix it so even though I filter autonotifications, I still receive them.

  • milehigh's picture

    Couldn't agree more with all of OPs comments. When I first started I responded really quickly to all candidates that reached out (know how hard it is to break in, light workload, etc.) but now I find myself swamped most of the time and therefore move a lot of emails into my recruiting folder where they gather dust and are forgotten.

    If it's a pure cold call (not a referral from a co-worker, mutual friend, etc.) then be perseverant and follow up again after a little while if you haven't heard back, it shows you're keen. Just don't bombard the banker, there's a fine line between showing your eager vs. being irritating.

    Additionally, I can't tell you how many informational calls I've had where I've encouraged the candidate to continue following up with me, and yet they never do. What I can tell you is that the few candidates that do check in with me are the ones I'd go to bat for when SA recruiting fires up.

  • Plato's picture

    This is great. I'm e-mailing a lot of senior people right now and am wondering about responses. I'd hoped to get lucky since the year is just getting started but the results have definitely been mixed.

    Any advice for e-mailing HR (besides the obvious "don't do it")?

  • In reply to Plato
    NorthSider's picture

    Plato:
    This is great. I'm e-mailing a lot of senior people right now and am wondering about responses. I'd hoped to get lucky since the year is just getting started but the results have definitely been mixed.

    Any advice for e-mailing HR (besides the obvious "don't do it")?

    The only reason I can imagine that you'd be emailing HR is to ask them a particular question about the process. If that's the case, then I'd just say be succinct and lead with the question. Make it something quick that they can respond to in a few seconds and you'll likely get a response.

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • In reply to NorthSider
    Plato's picture

    NorthSider:
    Plato:
    This is great. I'm e-mailing a lot of senior people right now and am wondering about responses. I'd hoped to get lucky since the year is just getting started but the results have definitely been mixed.

    Any advice for e-mailing HR (besides the obvious "don't do it")?

    The only reason I can imagine that you'd be emailing HR is to ask them a particular question about the process. If that's the case, then I'd just say be succinct and lead with the question. Make it something quick that they can respond to in a few seconds and you'll likely get a response.

    Thanks for responding. I e-mailed two contacts at a MM after getting introduced by someone via e-mail but haven't heard anything back from either of them. My other contacts have been MDs at a number of elite boutiques and so far I haven't heard anything from them either.

    I'm going to go with the "3 strikes and you're out" rule on each per the advice above.

  • TheBigBambino's picture

    OP - great post.

    likewise, if someone emails me before 10:30 am I almost always respond.

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • TheBigBambino's picture

    .

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • tera6ws's picture

    Can't emphasize enough following up. It's like going to office hours in college to get more information, so few people do it. Somehow the attitude in college is you're one and done, not so in life.

  • In reply to Plato
    NorthSider's picture

    Plato:
    NorthSider:
    Plato:
    This is great. I'm e-mailing a lot of senior people right now and am wondering about responses. I'd hoped to get lucky since the year is just getting started but the results have definitely been mixed.

    Any advice for e-mailing HR (besides the obvious "don't do it")?

    The only reason I can imagine that you'd be emailing HR is to ask them a particular question about the process. If that's the case, then I'd just say be succinct and lead with the question. Make it something quick that they can respond to in a few seconds and you'll likely get a response.

    Thanks for responding. I e-mailed two contacts at a MM after getting introduced by someone via e-mail but haven't heard anything back from either of them. My other contacts have been MDs at a number of elite boutiques and so far I haven't heard anything from them either.

    I'm going to go with the "3 strikes and you're out" rule on each per the advice above.

    Definitely, I would encourage you to not be afraid to follow up. Sending a follow-up email when you don't receive a response isn't going to annoy anyone but the most irritable.

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • oppcostofcapital's picture

    gdxx:

    Fact: We love hearing how busy we are.

    PREACH.

  • In reply to milehigh
    FranciscoDAnconia's picture

    milehigh:
    Couldn't agree more with all of OPs comments. When I first started I responded really quickly to all candidates that reached out (know how hard it is to break in, light workload, etc.) but now I find myself swamped most of the time and therefore move a lot of emails into my recruiting folder where they gather dust and are forgotten.

    If it's a pure cold call (not a referral from a co-worker, mutual friend, etc.) then be perseverant and follow up again after a little while if you haven't heard back, it shows you're keen. Just don't bombard the banker, there's a fine line between showing your eager vs. being irritating.

    Additionally, I can't tell you how many informational calls I've had where I've encouraged the candidate to continue following up with me, and yet they never do. What I can tell you is that the few candidates that do check in with me are the ones I'd go to bat for when SA recruiting fires up.

    Really helpful, as is the rest of this thread.

    What's your opinion on how frequently and with what reasons candidates should follow up?

  • In reply to FranciscoDAnconia
    NorthSider's picture

    FranciscoDAnconia:
    Really helpful, as is the rest of this thread.

    What's your opinion on how frequently and with what reasons candidates should follow up?

    In my opinion, you don't need much of a reason other than that the person didn't reply the first time (i.e. "just thought I would follow up to see if there is any way...").

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • IamObama's picture

    Here is my advice:

    When you cold e-mail, don't write an essay, don't make your paragraphs too long, space stuff out nicely, keep it short and to the point..honestly I don't care if it has been you are inspired by our "unique and prestigious culture". I love helping kids out, but if you e-mail me something that is not easy for me to read, I will likely just throw it in the recruiting folder and get it to the day when I feel like reading long, boring e-mails...which will be never.

  • bonks's picture

    To unlock this content for free, please login / register below.

    Sign In with Facebook Sign In with Google

    Connecting helps us build a vibrant community. We'll never share your info without your permission. Sign up with email or if you are already a member, login here Bonus: Also get 6 free financial modeling lessons for free ($200+ value) when you register!

    Nothing short of everything will really do.

  • In reply to bonks
    gdxx's picture
  • In reply to kyleyboy
    bonks's picture

    Nothing short of everything will really do.

  • Football2Finance's picture

    “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” - Sun Tzu

  • lasampdoria's picture

    "Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin