If you have followed my other postings then you already know that I am a VP at BB in a back office role. While I am not in HR, I do some OCR events and other on-boarding activities (interviews, resume screening, superdays, etc) for both my team and other teams within my org's back office structure. I also do this for both students coming on as analysts and experienced hires (everything from a few years removed from school to many decades in the business). One of my groups sent out Analyst offers last month and I guided a student through the process. In effect, this student did the "coffee chat" approach right and now they have an offer for employment from my BB (the same coffee chat approach that many of you see on here).
Because of my title and profile on LinkedIn, I get a few requests each year for coffee chats; I rarely (very rarely!) accept them. But I wanted to post this here to show you how one student got the approach right and I'll highlight the right things they did along the way. I'm going to obfuscate some facts about the process, myself and the student for everyone's privacy, but I think the story still comes through.
I first met the student at a competition my BB hosted (think of like a marketing plan competition night, stuff like that). They came prepared with their resume that only had a single internship on it. But they were dressed properly, smiled a lot and made a very good, general impression. They had researched my BB and they asked smart questions about my department. I gave the student my card and told them that we would be interviewing very soon and the web site where they should apply.
What they did right: They came prepared, they target their resume and questions towards my company. But most of all, they made a good impression. Smiled a lot, good handshake, stood up straight, asked questions. I'm going to meet a lot of students in a given year, if you make a good impression I'm going to remember your resume. Otherwise, you're just another one of the hundreds (truth be told, I've probably met thousands of potential Analysts this year!).
First Follow Up
I received a very nice thank you note from the student the very next day. I had emphasized the short timeline, so they took that to heart and by the time they sent me the note, they had already applied for the position. Since I gave their resume a positive review, HR had also reached out to them with information on the deadline - they wrote back to the my HR rep right away. The student used all of this as an excuse to write me a great thank you note and I thought it was very classy on their part.
What they did right: They followed up immediately, they showed enthusiasm for the job. Us hiring you is just like dating - if you show enthusiasm, we're likely to reply in kind. But no one wants to "drag" someone along that doesn't show enthusiasm or the desire to be there. They also didn't wait very long, they were on top of it. There were students that reached out to me a full week after the event telling me their resume was "coming soon". Really? Don't bother, because I'm conducting interviews TODAY - yes, the deadlines can happen that quickly! I don't have time to wait for you to send in a resume weeks later. You should be going to all the OCR events ready as if the interviews are happening the same day - have a resume 100% ready, have your schedule open to interview, have your suits and ties ready & pressed, shoes & high heels polished. Things are going to happen quickly, with or without you. Plus, if you reach out to me weeks later, sorry, I'm just plain not going to remember you.
Second Follow Up
The student found good excuses to reach out and stay in contact. Any time they had a question on the process or upcoming interview cycles (we do 5 of them) they looked for help with a short note. They either asked smart questions or just kept me updated on how the previous round went. They knew that I was an interviewer so I could help them with any number of parts of the process.
What they did right: They sought help, advice. You would be surprised at how many people in my position actually enjoy helping students. When you reach out for advice, an opinion, you are likely to receive a reply. Be direct, smart and respectful in your questions and you'd be surprised at how many of my colleagues would be willing to help you. Every note started with "Dear Mr. GoingToBeAnMD . . . " and asked for help - that's much more likely to receive a reply than most other invites I get. When I offered them advice, they acted on it and gave me updates on the results. Quite frankly, this student sought me out more as a mentor and I welcomed that. Staying in constant contact shows that you want to work for me and that you can be coached - those are all very important things when we look for Analysts.
The Coffee Chat
Yes, yes, I know that you thought that the coffee chat comes first in this story. WRONG! In fact, I think it should rarely come first in the whole process. The whole point of the recruiting process should be to make friends; as Jeffrey Gitomer says (his books are very worthwhile), "No one likes to be pitched, but everyone wants to do business with their friends. So go out there and make friends!". The student (at this point felt like a mentee) made it to the final round which also happened to be at my campus. So they extended an offer for coffee which I accepted. At this stage in the interviews, I had coached them a bit and having coffee only seemed like a natural extension since they were going to be so close by. That's 100% different than a random student that reaches me on LinkedIn with no background, no introduction and just writes a ham-handed attempt at an invite to meet.
What they did right: They kept in touch, I knew who they were because they were respectful and replied to all emails right away. When you do this, the coffee invite comes easy.
During the coffee chat I told the student that things would be happening very, very quickly so they should send thank-you notes right away. At least that's how my BB does it, I don't know about other places. But, once again, the student took this advice to heart and the student sent notes before they even left my campus. It's at this point that I went to bat for my mentee and I had hallway conversations with some colleagues, I popped my head into other people's offices, and I spoke about the strength of this student's resume and I put my influence where I could. The student deserved it, they had done the right things at all steps in the process, and I did my part and put my weight behind them.
What they did right: This student made it very easy for me to help them. They did the right things, they were respectful and they showed enthusiasm for my company. The combination of all those things made me more than happy to approach my colleagues and tell them to pay close attention to this particular resume and interview notes.
It was a few days later that I found out that the student was going to be made an offer. I was told before the student knew but I had to let HR do it's thing first. But immediately after notices went out, I received a thank you email from the student because they were very excited to receive an offer. I was genuinely happy for them and I got to help them throughout the process, that was very satisfying.
Who Else Is Doing Things Right
I have a freshman that I met earlier this year. They're a little too early in the process for me to help them right now. But I have seen them at other OCR events (I'll remain vague here for my privacy) and they've made a good impression each time because they always remember me and they stop to chat. Time will tell if that freshman will continue in the process, but they're in line for me to make them an offer at some point in the future.
Stay in contact, be respectful, be friendly and good things will happen.