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The Consultation Page Just Got a Big Upgrade

craigFebruary 2, 2017

We’re thrilled to announce the arrival of the new Consultation Page on all Firsthand platforms! The Consultation Page is where advisors and advisees meet. Our product and customer success teams have combed through years of user data and customer feedback to make this upgrade happen. This feature should be rolling out on all Firsthand AMPs and CAPs and on Evisors over the coming days.

Users familiar with our platforms should feel right at home on the new page, despite some noticeable changes. The steps involved in booking a consultation and connecting have not changed, but we’ve worked hard to make the experience more user friendly. Specifically, we’ve created a new user interface that’s better optimized for mobile, we’ve replaced messages with chat, we’ve eased cancellation and rescheduling restrictions, as well as a few other things.

Let’s go through the updates, one by one.

A Brand New User Experience, Better Optimized for Mobile

More users than ever are connecting to our platforms using their phones or other mobile devices. We’ve designed the new Consultation Page to function equally well on all modern web browsers and smartphones. Although the layout may change, you won’t lose functionality switching from one device to another.

Say Goodbye to “Messages” and Hello to Real-time Chat

We’ve always let you send internal “emails” or messages to coordinate meeting details before your call or to stay connected if your phone service dropped mid-consultation. The problem with these messages was that they weren’t instantaneous and didn’t lend themselves to the kind of frequent short-form interactions that most users were having.

Enter our new real-time chat. Each consultation now gets a private and completely secure chat room. Messages from one person to the other show up instantly. You can also share files. If you’re not on your consultation page to read the messages you’re getting, we email them to you. Better still, your chat thread stays with you throughout your relationship with your advisee or advisor. So when you open the consultation page for your second consultation with the same advisor or advisee, the chat thread picks up right where it left off.

Unrestricted Rescheduling and Cancellation

Nobody likes to be stood up or cancelled on. We therefore built the old Consultation Page with strict rules as to when it was OK and when it wasn’t OK for someone to cancel or reschedule. We let you cancel or reschedule if you gave sufficient notice, but not if it was last minute. All last minute cancellations or reschedule requests had to go through customer service.

While this made sense in theory, in practice it didn’t. Our users (especially our advisors) live busy lives and things come up. And if time is precious, the last thing you want to spend it on is talking to customer service. Virtually every last-minute rescheduling and cancellation request received by customer service ended with the advisee or advisor completely understanding and/or accommodating the other person’s request.    

So why not lift the restrictions and let people handle all rescheduling and cancellation themselves? That’s exactly what we’ve done on the new Consultation Page. While there may be bad apples who exploit their newfound freedom here, we know from experience that these belong to the minority and that we have back-end monitoring systems to take care of it. What’s more, the new real-time chat will make last-minute coordination even easier.

Oh, And a Few More Things…

You didn’t think we were done yet, did you?

  1. Advisors now have 7 days, not 48 hours, to respond to requests. Or to be specific, they have 7 days or until the last suggested meeting time, whichever is shorter, to respond. We know our advisors are busy and two days may not be enough time, especially during holidays and busy workweeks. With this change, we hope to give our busiest members a fair shake at responding on their own schedule.
  2. Now included: tips on how to have a great consultation. Customers have requested this for a while. We now provide advisors a list of “Last Minute Tips” they can use as a reference guide for getting the most out of their consultation. Each list is lovingly crafted by our team and customized for the user’s perspective (advisee or advisor) and consultation type (career conversation, resume critique, or mock interview).
  3. advisees now have to submit payment before their requests go out. This is a minor change only affecting advisees. We want to avoid advisors accepting requests only to have the consultation expire because the advisee never paid. From now on, all requests will come fully funded. If the advisor declines the request or cancels the consultation, we will of course refund the payment, as we have always done.  

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Contact us at


You Can Now Request Multiple Advisors at Once

fredrikNovember 15, 2016

We’re excited to launch a new feature that will help connect more students and alumni than ever before. Starting next week, whenever you request a consultation with an advisor, you’ll be given the option to send that request to other similar advisors as well. This will enable you to fill your request faster, garner multiple perspectives, and meet great new advisors.

Our new multiple request feature leverages what we know about your request and the advisor you’re requesting to find and rank advisors with similar skill-sets. Those who fit the bill get pinged and offered the time slots your primary advisor (i.e., the one you initially requested) couldn’t accept. That way, a single request can turn into three potential consultations, each with a different advisor, if all three of your proposed times get taken.

The way it works is simple. You request a consultation with an advisor like you normally would. Once you’ve submitted your request however, we now ask you whether you’d be open to sending your request to more people. It’s optional. If your primary advisor is your one and only love, simply click “No thanks” or ignore this message. Your original request stays active. But if you’re open to more help, you can to modify the text in your request for wider consumption, then simply click “Submit to more advisors!” and hey presto you’ve opened yourself to multiple well-matched suitors to fill your time slots. We give your primary advisor first dibs on your time slots however. For the first couple of hours, only the primary advisor can see your request. After that, we offer your time slots to the other advisors. 

If you have questions about this release, please post them below or email your Customer Success Rep.


New: Clearer Feedback and Personal Reference Letters from Advisors

fredrikJuly 31, 2016

This week we’re doing job-seekers on our platforms two big favors. First, we’re making feedback from advisors more structured and more consistent. Next and more significantly, we’re letting advisors personally vouch for candidates. These changes are part of our new advisee feedback feature which goes live for advisees and advisors on AMPs and CAPs this week and on this fall. No action is required on the part of admins, advisors, or advisees other than for advisors to formally submit the feedback they’ve probably already been sharing informally.

We now ask advisors for feedback after every consultation

Advisors will now have to submit feedback on advisees before they can see what advisees have said about them. To keep the feedback unbiased, we’ve made the process double-blind. Advisees won’t be able to see the feedback on them until they’ve submitted feedback on their advisors

Part 1: Private Consultation Specific Advice

The consultation specific section of our new feedback form plays on existing behavior. Most consultations already end with an advisor listing things their advisee could improve on or follow-up with. Before, advisors either had to communicate this on the call or in a message afterwards. Now, there’s a dedicated channel for it.

We’re hoping this will encourage more advisors to leave structured feedback. Also, by collecting feedback in one place and in one format, we can give advisees one place to access all their feedback (by logging into their profiles and going to “My Consultations”). Advisees and advisors should know that consultation specific feedback stays private. It won’t be visible to other advisors, administrators, or the public

Part 2: A Shareable Assessment (a.k.a. the “Mini-Referral”)

Tactical, how-to-land-the-job advice is great, but the bigger question is whether a job-seeker is pursuing the right job to begin with. And if it is the right job, what more can be done to help a job-seeker succeed? Enter the Assessment section.

First, we have advisors rate job-seekers on the only three interview questions that matter: Can they do the job?; Do they want the job?; and Would they fit in? Then we take it a step further with the question most job-seekers want to ask, but are too afraid to: Would you recommend me for the job in question?

Advisors who don’t feel like they have enough information can select “Unclear.” Most advisors however tell us that they have a good sense from just one consultation whether an advisee would be a good fit.

Of course, no job-seeker wants to hear that they’re a bad fit, but there’s tremendous economic value in this feedback and we’ve made sure that there’s no downside. Unless an advisee explicitly choses to share their assessment, it stays private and no one but the advisee sees it. Besides, if one advisor doesn’t think you’re a fit for a job, you should probably seek a second opinion. If several advisors think you’re a poor fit for the job, your time is probably better spent pursuing another job.

Advisees have little to fear however. When we asked nearly 2,500 advisors this spring, what share of advisees they’ve met with that they would recommend for the job, advisors said they would personally vouch for 48% of the advisees. Advisors considered only one in seven advisees to be bad fits. Interestingly, 14% of advisors reported having already recommended or hired an advisee for a job.

Our goal is to increase that 14%. Advisors can now personally vouch for advisees they meet. We believe this can go a long way in helping job-seekers get their foot in the door and in helping employers discover diamonds in the rough. With every advisor having signed off on their assessment being shared, advisees should look at positive assessments as mini reference letters they can share with employers. Advisees can either attach print-outs of these mini-referrals to their job applications, or they can elect to have Firsthand share them with relevant employers for relevant job opportunities. On the latter option, the Firsthand team is just getting started with building relationships with employers. As these relationships expand, we’ll be sharing more assessments with relevant employers, connecting more great candidates with great jobs, which is why we built Firsthand in the first place.

If you have questions about this release, please post them below or email your Customer Success Rep.


The CAP Just Got a Whole Lot Better

fredrikJune 28, 2016

We’re excited to be rolling out a big update to our Career Advisor Platform (CAP). Starting next week, CAP clients and advisees will see a lot more of our most experienced advisors on their platforms. Here’s why and what’s changing.

A Good Problem to Have

When we launched the Career Advisor Platform (CAP) last year, we had no idea that the concept of unlimited consultations with our Global Advisors would be so appealing. The CAP was so popular that some advisors were getting more requests than they could handle from students, young alumni, and other job seekers. As a result, some of these advisors raised their fees so that we could no longer afford to include them among the 5,000+ advisors from available on our CAPs. Too much engagement. It’s what product developers call “a good problem to have.”

A good problem to have is like deciding which of two job offers to take. It’s not a problem worth fussing over until you actually have two job offers. As a lean startup, we built the CAP as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test the hypothesis: Would clients want (and would advisees use) a version of our Alumni Mentoring Platform (AMP) populated by advisors from instead of their own alumni? Building an MVP means building the minimum set of features necessary to test your hypothesis. With our hypothesis now solidly proven, it’s time to expand the feature set and truly unlock the potential of the CAP.

The Solution: More Transparency and Opportunity for Advisors

Seeing a few popular advisors price themselves out of the CAPs, some clients asked us if we could make side deals with these advisors to keep them on. With our new pricing opt-ins, this is precisely what we have done, except we’ve now given every advisor a side deal. 

Take a closer look at our new pricing opt-ins page for advisors and you’ll see we’re making experienced advisors more available on CAPs in three ways.

First, advisors can now opt into as many free CAP consultations per month as they like by entering any number next to “other schools for free.” Previously, advisors could only do their first ever CAP consultation for free.

Second, we’ve lowered the Basic and Premium CAP cutoffs from $50 and $100 per hour to $20 and $40 per hour. Clients with Basic CAPs will see all advisors opting into free and $20/hr consultations, while clients with Premium CAPs will see the same advisors plus those solely opting into $40/hr. Because we will continue to allocate half of what CAP clients pay us towards paying advisors, this means CAP clients will get 2.5x as many “paid” consultations for their money!

Third, we’ve added limits that refresh every month. If an advisor gets too many requests one month (i.e., exceeds their limit), they will reappear on the first of the next month with a new quota of consultations slots. Advisees can even have us email them when a popular advisor becomes available again.

The Bottom Line: 2.5x More Experienced Advisors

We’ve already had our most popular advisors opt into the new rates, so expect to see some popular advisors reappear on your CAP. Thousands of advisors will remain on the CAPs as before because their old rates still fall below the CAP cutoffs. A few less active advisors will disappear from the CAPs because their old rates exceed the new cutoffs, but we expect the majority of them to return as they complete the new opt-in form. In other words, if you’re a CAP client or user, your access to experienced advisors just got a whole lot better.

If you have any questions, please post them below or email your Customer Success Rep.