Application via Partner or HR?

application process
Recent activity on Mar 07, 2018
3 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 07, 2018


i am going to apply for a consulting position at a Big 4 company in Germany. I already did an internship in this company in a different deparment. I also went to an afternoon workshop event where I got a better insight into the daily work at the department and also had the chance to talk to the partner from the department. However, this happend 6 month ago. So I think, that the partner won't remember me.

So I can either apply directly via email to the partner or to the HR deparment, which already has my information from the internship and I am also a member of the alumni intern program.

What do you think is the better approach?

And if I apply directly to the partner, do I send him all my application documents directly (CV, motvation letter & testimonials)?

Best regards

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replied on Mar 07, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

It seems you don’t have a strong connection with the partner besides the meeting you had some months ago; I believe thus that, if you write him, he will forward your application directly to HR. On the other hand, a direct application via HR would lead to no referral at all.

A better option could be to obtain a referral with someone else that you could reach in your network; to do so I would follow the steps below:

1. Identify the ideal connections to contact. LinkedIn could be a good starting point for that (another option is to use your university alumni database, if available). Former alumni of your university normally represent the strongest connections.

2. Write a customized cold email. I would recommend using emails rather than LinkedIn messages, as writing via LinkedIn you would immediately be perceived as a stranger (there are ways to easily find the email of everyone nowadays in few minutes). The email should follow some specific rules for the subject and the content, in order to maximize conversion.

3. Have a call with the consultant, and indirectly ask for a referral. The call should be structured in order to maximize conversion, as the email. You should have an idea in advance of (i) how to introduce yourself (ii) which questions to ask and (iii) how to ask for the referral indirectly. In case you manage to get an in-person meeting instead of a call, that’s great but not strictly necessary.

You can find more on referrals at the second post at the following link:



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replied on Mar 07, 2018

Hey anonymous,

If you have already worked for that company before, then they have a track history of your progress and performance. Thus, if you performed well they will take that into consideration and you will not need the referral anyway - the same applies in the other direction.

I would apply through the normal process - as it seems really unlikely some partner will refer you based on a single interaction anyway. Besides, you are not applying to MBBs, so referrals are significantly less important anyway.



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updated an answer on Mar 07, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Several points:

  • It looks that the partner may not remember you. I recommend not to write to him
  • Applying via HR is a good option since they have you in a system

But why don't you ask your manager from the department where you had your internship to help you apply? It may be:

  • Direct referral in the system
  • Passing your resume to HR
  • Passing your resume to the manager / partner in the department you are applying to

More on referrals here:



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Francesco gave the best answer


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