Cover Page
About This Site
IBer Profile
Living It
Process Overview
List of Firms
Resume/Job Sites
Contact Process
While in NYC
Interview Process
Next Interviews
Job Offer
Wrapping It Up

Overview of Contact Process

The first step to getting a job offer from investment banks or any firm is to set up interviews. You do this by persistently contacting the companies through letters and phone calls.

Actually, the contact process is a cycle that you continue performing for each investment bank until you pass the first or second interview, at which point the investment bank will usually take over control of the interview process (See

Next Interviews).

You must first research the investment bank before you can write the recruiter an effective letter. By doing some research, you will find out the recruiter's address and some background information about the firm. At the same time you are writing letters, you should be asking your personal contacts if they know information about the firm or people at those firms. After you gather some information, you will write your initial contact letter to the recruiter and enclose your resume.

After about two weeks, you will call the recruiter to follow-up the letter and ask for an interview. You won't wait for a response postcard or letter since most firms won't respond anyway (See this study). You will then continue to call and write as necessary (about every eight business days when you are in Tuscaloosa), even while you are on your interview trips to New York. Of course, your approach at this point will be much more confident and direct since you will already be in New York.

Most of your work in the contact cycle up until you leave for NYC will merely set the stage of familiarity between you and the firms. There is actually a good chance that you won't have an interview date with any firms UNTIL you get to New York - this is the most risky part of this overall job hunting strategy (I found myself in this situation on my first trip to NYC). Once in New York, though, it is much easier to convince the investment banks that you are serious.


  • Recruiters listed on an investment bank's web site are the primary contacts for your job search. However, this does not mean that you should exclude also using personal contacts or human resource departments in investment banks. In fact, the more paths you have into particular investment banks, the greater your chances of a successful job search. Ultimately, your resume ends up in the recruiter's possession; there is no path around this bottleneck. But, if you send your resume to someone in the firm who can vouch for you then it will definitely get into the review pile of the recruiter, one step closer to an interview.

  • Let them know you will be there for the long haul.

  • Call recruiters and contact them A LOT to let them know that you are here and you want the job.  Don't be an obvious "pain in the neck", though.

  • Get as many copies of your resume as possible into the firm (HR, department heads, etc.).

  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS contact the investment bank recruiters first with a cover letter and resume before calling. If you don't, then the recruiter or contact will ask you to send a resume first. You want to appear as professional as possible. Therefore, get through as many steps as possible towards arranging an interview before calling your contact.

  • TIME is the key to the process. Start off slow to get a feel for the resume/letter - call - fax - resume/letter - call cycle. Then explode into it covering NYC investment banks, investment banks in other cities, and regional investment banks. Don't be afraid to repeat cycles on a particular investment bank.

  • Start the process in early summer by planning and studying for your job search. Then start full speed in early fall by contacting many investment banks (at least 50).

  • Write and send the letters while making calls at home to try to set up interviews. Then once you are in NYC, fax more letters to the same companies and call them to set up interviews.

  • Thank you notes are essential for contacts or anyone that goes out of their way to help you.  In addition, thank-you notes to the interviewers are essential after interviews.


As I got used to calling investment banks, my confidence and persistence grew much stronger. I had received a rejection letter for every letter that I had sent to Goldman Sachs stating that there were "no positions available..." I still kept calling to try to speak with the contact listed on the web site. I finally talked with her secretary who asked me if I had sent a resume in. I replied that I did to which the secretary asked me if I had received the letter that they had mailed (without indicating that it was a rejection letter). I lied and said that I had not. I quickly seized my chance to explain that I would be in Manhattan in January and I asked for an interview with the contact. The secretary said that all interviews were scheduled after the applicant's resume had been reviewed and selected. He then said that according to his records, my resume had not been selected. I again mentioned that I would be in Manhattan for a week and I was available to interview anytime (I knew that the conversation was drawing to a close). He said that since they had had 3000 resumes sent in for this year's analyst program that he could not accommodate me. I thanked him, closed the conversation, hung up the phone, and smiled. I knew that I would win and get an analyst's position at a top-tier investment bank. It is just a numbers game.


The following article was written to explore the issue of how companies respond to employment requests. However, a couple of interesting facts were found in the process. I pulled these excerpts out to prepare you for the variety of responses (or lack of) that you will get from different investment banks.

Please note that the following article is NOT my work.  Unfortunately, I have lost the source of this work.  However, I felt its contributions to the purpose of this web site were too valuable for it to be excluded.   My apologies to the original authors.

"We were more interested in the rejection practices of companies. In particular, we were interested in two key features of the rejection letters. First, we wanted to determine how much time typically elapsed before rejection letters were written; second, we wanted to investigate how many companies actually sent rejection letters."

"To access these practices, we sent 113 cover letters and resumes to companies in the Detroit metropolitan area. The resumes were solicited by the companies through advertisements in the local newspaper. Typically, the cover letters addressed employment possibilities in one of three general areas: human resources (32 percent), marketing or market research (42 percent), and training and development (19 percent). The remaining 7 percent of the letters involved employment opportunities that could not be classified based on the advertisement alone or were a combination of the three general areas."

"The cover letters and resumes described a graduate student in a doctoral program in industrial-organizational psychology who was seeking full-time employment. The letters stated that the individual was in the final stages of the dissertation cycle and available for immediate employment. The resumes outlined relevant work experience in all three general employment areas (human resources, marketing, and training), and the cover letters emphasized the experiences that best matched the focus of the job at hand."

"The results were surprising with the greatest surprise being that the majority of the companies did not send a single communication in response to the employment inquiry. Of the 113 cover letters and resumes sent, only 43 responses were received. Sixty-two percent of the businesses failed to respond."

"Poor business communication extended beyond outright rejections to situations in which the applicant received an interview but no job offer. Of the 113 resumes sent, the author was invited to eight interviews. All the interviews were professional and friendly. In no case was the employee-organization match so poor as to merit an immediate face-to-face rejection. We expected that the interviews would merit some type of future communication, even if it was to inform the applicant that an offer would not be forthcoming. Surprisingly, a business communication (in this particular case, a notification of a job offer) was received from only one organization after the interviews. The other organizations rejected the applicant with silence, pretending that the interview had not occurred."

Graph 1: Distribution of Contact Types

No response: 62%
Telephone (to schedule interviews): 5%
Multiple contacts: 4%
Rejection Letter: 15%
Acknowledgement letter: 4%
Post card: 10%

Graph 2: Average Number of Days for Each Type of Contact

Post Card: 7
Acknowledgement Letter: 16
Rejection Letter: 43
Multiple Contacts (1st contact): 9
Multiple Contacts (2nd contact): 54
Telephone: 10

The above article has captured the essence of what I also discovered myself. The great majority of investment banks will NOT respond at all. The ones that do will most likely send an acknowledgement postcard stating something about their interview process and how they will contact you later (blah, blah). If you never contacted the investment banks again then the postcard would probably be the only communication that you would ever receive. Some of the investment banks will send rejection letters. In addition, of the ones that do respond, some are ridiculously slow. One bank sent a rejection letter FIVE months after I had sent my original resume and a month after I had already signed on with one of their competitors!

I tell you these sobering statistics not to depress or discourage you but to prepare you mentally for your job search process. Also, I want to quickly rid you of the typical lazy way to search for a job. Investment banks will not cold call you no matter how impressive your resume is; you must initiate the first, second, and third steps. Once the ball is rolling and the investment bank takes over, you will know (i.e., they will pay for and schedule everything).


The rejection letters are always very well written and polite. The general message is always "no positions available for you at this time". There are two things to remember when looking at a rejection letter. First, they are all form letters with a rubber signature stamp (i.e., nothing personal against you). Second, rejection letters do not indicate "don't even try"; rather each letter indicates, "if you want this job then you need to crank up your efforts".

Copyright 1998-2000 by Jonathan Sides
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