Written by: Lizzie, Campus Recruiter

As a Campus Recruiter, one of the most popular questions I get asked is, “How can I stand out as a candidate if Scotiabank doesn’t accept resumes?” It’s true, we no longer accept resumes for Campus roles as we value relationships more than your experience on paper, and because of that, there’s a simple way to stand out from the crowd: coffee chats!

Don’t get me wrong, coffee chats can be daunting, particularly in a virtual world. Even as an extrovert who loves to talk, I found them intimidating! If you feel the same way, I’m here to share some helpful tips for mastering virtual coffee chats from start to finish.

1.    First impressions count!

If you’re reaching out to someone in your industry of interest on LinkedIn, make sure that your profile is clean, complete, and up to date with your most recent and relevant experience clearly outlined. If reaching out via email, ensure that your email signature has your name and contact information clearly stated.

Always address the individual that you’re reaching out to by their first name as outlined on their LinkedIn profile – when you use prefixes (Mr./Miss/Mrs./Dr./etc.) or names other than what is on their profile, you run the risk of using the wrong prefix or name! Addressing them as stated on their LinkedIn profile is professional, and inclusive.

2.    Craft the perfect coffee chat request!

The perfect coffee chat request is short and to the point. Avoid a block of text or reiterating every detail of your resume – if it takes longer than 60 seconds to read, it’s too long! If emailing your coffee chat request, avoid attaching multiple documents such as transcripts, reference letters, or past projects. Briefly state your name, a short introduction, your purpose for reaching out, and offer your availability.

When it comes to your availability, try to be flexible – avoid suggesting a specific day and time, as the individual may simply bypass your request if that doesn’t work for them. Instead, suggest a length of coffee chat (15-20 minutes is ideal) and suggest 3-4 days during the week that you would be available.

Here’s one example of a great coffee chat request (make sure to make it your own!):

Hi Lizzie! My name is _____, and I’m a 3rd year at the University of _______. I’m really interested in applying for the role of _______ and noticed you were the recruiter for this role. I would love to have a coffee chat with you to introduce myself, learn more about the role, and ask some questions about the recruitment process. I’m free on ______, _______, and ________.

Lastly, always review your request before sending to avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes!

3.    Know what you want to get out of the Coffee Chat

You only have a short time to make an impression, so strategize accordingly! Do you want to know more about a particular job opening? Is there a particular industry you’re hoping to break into? Did you meet the recruiter at an event and want to learn more? Think carefully about what you’re wanting to learn from the meeting and the impression you’re trying to make.

4.    Do your research, and tailor your questions appropriately.

To get the most out of the short time you have during a coffee chat, make sure you tailor your questions to the individual you’re speaking to. Quickly read through the recruiter’s LinkedIn to learn more about their job experience and what they have been involved in - this might inspire some of your questions! Asking a recruiter about recent business deals or a business line representative about recruitment timelines is not the most effective use of your time (or theirs!), and not the best way to make a strong impression. Instead, asking a recruiter about their career journey or about a particular industry may give you more insight on the job you’re interested in. A good rule of thumb: make sure you’re asking questions that can’t be easily found with a quick internet search!

5.    Stay focused

Find a quiet place for your virtual coffee chat, away from loud noises or other interruptions, including turning off your phone and any notifications on your computer. Make sure to avoid reading prepared statements off a screen. It’s fine to cue yourself if you forget one of your questions but reading off your screen for the entire coffee chat comes across as unprofessional and unnatural! Although it can be uncomfortable, make ‘eye contact’ with your camera. This creates a welcoming environment that mimics an in-person meeting. 

6.    Be Yourself!

During a coffee chat, it is common to want to present yourself as someone who you think the individual you’re speaking to is looking for. Not only is this uncomfortable and difficult for you, it also obscures your amazing personality! We bring our authentic selves to work every day, and you should, too! Highlight what makes you unique – your personality, your hobbies, or special interests – all the things that make you, YOU! Of course, always be polite and maintain professionalism, but make sure your personality shines through.

7.    Send a “Thank You” note!

After your coffee chat, send a brief thank you note, reiterating your purpose (i.e., your interest in a particular job) and highlighting a key learning from your meeting. Don’t stress if the individual doesn’t respond – it doesn’t mean you didn’t impress them, and it definitely doesn’t mean they didn’t read your email. More than likely, they get a lot of emails in a day and don’t have a chance to respond to all of them – the small gesture goes a long way!

Interested in a coffee chat with our team but not sure who to reach out to?

Check out our Campus Events page and join one of our virtual sessions to meet some of the leaders of our campus programs!