HBS has an interesting policy linked to recruiting. Companies are not allowed to set foot on the HBS campus before early November. The only exposure of students to the outside corporate world is limited to a ‘Bain consulting’ banner hanging on a table providing students with free drinks on a sunny Friday afternoon, or a fancy Boston Consulting Group umbrella that would be distributed in the students’ mailboxes. While swag and sponsorship are allowed, human representation or email contacts are strictly forbidden. I didn’t fully appreciate the full benefit of this temporary recruiting ban until hell broke loose about two weeks ago. Ever since, my inbox has been spammed by the McKinsey’s of this world.
As fall announces itself through cold nights and falling leaves, one can tell when recruiting season starts by changing clothing habits of most students. The casual sweaters and loose Tshirts have been replaced by suits and ties. Besides having your co-students dress up, recruiting season has another big advantage. On Monday, the ‘Origami Fund’ served pizza for dinner. On Tuesday I was fed by the fancy Goldman Sachs buffet while Wednesday’s menu was provided by Credit Suisse. On Thursday, the healthcare club at HBS organized an early Thanksgiving dinner for all its organizing members… sponsored by most of above mentioned companies and many many many more. One would almost forget that the real goal here is to get a job!
While recruiting companies spend a lot of time and money in attracting the best candidates, I have to say I’m rather disappointment by the creativity that goes into most of their efforts. Most recruiting events have a very standard format – they start off with a (mostly boring) presentation about what they do and what they stand for, followed by the opportunity to chat with recent HBS graduates that they hired in the past. One company presented what they stand for by challenging students with an interactive case study. Another company tried to spark student’s interests by organizing a panel format. Bigger firms tend to offer 1 to 1 coffee chats with current employees.
Whatever platform they use, none of the firms really made a lasting influence on me. They all search students that are brilliant, entrepreneurial and innovative; very few of them seem to be reflecting this last skill in their company presentation though. So let’s open this to a wider audience here: what would be the best way to spark students’ attention? How can recruiting companies stand out on HBS (and other) campuses? Take into account however that students don’t have a lot of time!