Why a follow-up note matters when recruiting a student

college

And in the job search. 

You learn many things when you bring your child on a college visit. You learn, for example, that visiting five schools in four days can be exhausting. You learn that your child is drawn to the most expensive schools. And you learn that some schools do a better job than others in trying to recruit potential students.

This last point was most apparent when one of the five schools sent a follow-up note in the form of a postcard. It was from a student ambassador who took my daughter out for lunch—she refused to let me come.

The postcard arrived two days after my daughter’s visit to the school, which happened to be the most expensive of the five schools. Not a week after the visit. Two days after the visit.

What impressed me most was that the card was written in the ambassador’s own handwriting, with a scratched out word and a little too many explanation points. Don’t dwell on the negatives, dear reader. Instead think about the personal effort this young woman put into writing this card to my daughter. Especially focus on how the girl said, “It was really great getting to know you and learning about the mills in Lowell.”

“Wow,” I said to my wife, “Chloe talked about the mills.” I’ve never heard my daughter speak word one about the mills. The fact that they talked about the mills indicates that the conversation took an interesting turn. (According to my daughter she and the ambassador talked about many other topics, but she wouldn’t elaborate.) Reading the postcard further I saw that the young woman hoped that my daughter feels better—she had pneumonia at the time of the visit.

This follow-up note in the form of a postcard showed me professionalism, great business sense—they want to recruit as many potential students as possible—and it illustrated why jobseekers need to send follow-up notes. I tell my customers to follow up with the employer no later than a day or two after the interview. Most are good about this, while others don’t even follow up.

I’m not naive to think that this woman sent the card on her own accord. I know the school has a policy requiring that the ambassadors send personalized postcards after a prospective student visits the school. It’s good marketing.

It’s good marketing because the young woman paid attention to what my daughter had said during lunch and wrote about the encounter in her own words, not some generic follow-up note the school sends to everyone. This will definitely be a good lesson for my job-search workshop attendees when I explain the importance, again, of the follow-up note. If a 20-year-old woman can send a note of appreciation to my daughter, a jobseeker can send a unique thank-you note to an employer.

As I said, my daughter is most interested in the college that sent her the card. She told me this before the card even arrived. Before our visit I was impressed but not in love with said school. The card cemented my decision to send her there. Now my wife and I have to prepare for the astronomical expense for the tuition and other costs we’ll have to endure.

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