In Hunt for Jobs, Every Point Counts
Published: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 21:02
It’s fall again, and for the McDonough School of Business, that means recruiting season. During the fall, it becomes easy to forget that you’re in the political center of the free world. That is because Wall Street descends on Georgetown. The “Big Four” accounting firms and the “Bulge Bracket” investment banks send their recruiters to campus to put on information sessions — a chance for the firms to try to sell themselves to the students. They send Hoyas from among their ranks to talk about their industry, what makes their firm unique within their industry and what the hiring process entails. The most important part of the information session, however, comes at the very end.
After they give their talk, the team disperses around the room and students introduce themselves to as many people as possible. This is the students’ chance to sell themselves to the firm. Although it’s not as formal as the hiring process, it’s just as important. I have talked to associates from many of the Wall Street firms, and they all say that if they don’t remember you from info sessions, it really hurts the chances of getting hired. It may seem like an impossible task to stand out among so many people and with so little time, so here are some tips to make yourself memorable:
1. Dress the part. Everyone will be dressed well, so it won’t get you noticed, but if you don’t, it will draw negative attention. Negative attention is worse than no attention at all. Don’t dress sloppy, and don’t go over the top. There’s no need to show up looking like Gordon Gekko.
2. Have an “elevator pitch.” You don’t have much time to talk. In a few seconds you have to introduce yourself and pose a question: your “elevator pitch.” If you had 30 seconds in an elevator with someone, what would you tell them about yourself? Elevator pitches depend a lot on the audience. If you learn that you and the person you are talking to share something in common, like a hometown, a professor you took, etc., exploit it. If they work in an area that you are particularly interested in, you might mention what sparked your interest.
3. Have a good question. Remember, there are stupid questions. Put some thought and research into your question. Good questions will show that you have some interest in the firm or in the industry and will provide a ground for further dialogue. Regulations and market conditions have a large impact on these businesses. Reading the Wall Street Journal can raise questions that may be relevant to what they do. There are many safe questions to go with, such as, “What is your normal day like?” However, this question is asked a lot, it won’t make you memorable and it doesn’t keep things open for further dialogue.
4. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. When your question has been answered, be sure to get their card. If they are out of cards, have paper and a pen ready to take down their email. Send them a thank you email. This is probably the most important thing to do to make sure you’re remembered as it shows your appreciation. It also opens up a channel of communication, and it puts your name in their mind. Emails aren’t bound by the same time restrictions as the info session, so you can ask more in-depth questions. It is also a good time to ask those safe questions, because understanding the lifestyle at the firm is important, but not when your goal is to stand out among the masses.
Aaron Scheuerman is a senior in the McDonough School of Business.