Buddy Approvals are a crucial system of checks and balances in the screening process. Buddy Approval is the process by which every mentor application is reviewed by another member of the screening team before acceptance into the program. The Buddy Approver must NOT be the application owner OR the screener who did that applicant's interview (i.e in a coverage situation). By having two sets of eyes on every mentor application, the Screening Team works hard to ensure that every mentor applicant approved to volunteer in the program is a safe, consistent and appropriate adult volunteer who is committed to the iMentor mission.
Selecting a Buddy Approver
Once an applicant has completed all steps of the screening process, the owning Screener will change the Applicant Status to “Buddy Approval”. The application will then be assigned a Buddy Approver by the Associate Director of Mentor Screening. The AD will update the Buddy Approver field on the application to the name of the screener reviewing the application. This ensures Buddy Approvals are easily tracked and equitably distributed among the team, and can be used to create individual screener owned and operated list views and/or reports. Once a Buddy Approval is assigned, the buddy approver will receive an automated email notification.
Normally, Buddy Approvals should be completed within 48 hours of being assigned by the AD of Screening. In the height of mentor and mentee matching, local program teams may request certain applications to be buddy approved more quickly if there's an urgent need. On average, a Buddy Approval should take around 10 minutes to complete, but as this is the final step in approving a mentor, accuracy should not be sacrificed for the sake of speed. New staff should work with their manager to learn more and improve on their buddy approval skills.
The Buddy Approval Process includes the following key steps:
- Searching Salesforce for each applicant in case of duplicate contact records or older applications.
- Reviewing the mentor applicant's demographic details on the Salesforce application and contract record (imported from the iMentor Platform). Ensure that any updates (such as address, job or preference changes which may have happened after the application was initially filled out) are reflected in Salesforce.
- Ensuring that the Mentor Contract on File field is checked. For NYC applicants, ensure the Background Check Form field is also checked.
- Reading the mentor applicant’s flag(s) if present.
- Reading the match notes and mentor interview in their entirety, keeping an eye out for any potential problematic or flag-worthy responses.
- Reading the mentor applicant's definitions of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
- Reviewing the mentor applicant's preferences to ensure they are adequately captured and tagged for match site list reporting.
- Confirming the mentor applicant successfully passed their local background check requirements and was approved.
- Reviewing the mentor applicant's personal and professional references.
- Confirming the mentor successfully completed a 2 or 4 year college degree, or has a logged exemption approval if not.
- Reviewing the mentor applicant's answers to the required disclosure questions on the mentor application.
- Reviewing the applicant's Mentor Together preference details.
- Given recent changes on the mentor recruiting side and resulting process changes in Salesforce, the lead status of every applicant should be checked during the buddy approval process (this may change and no longer be necessary as processes are updated).
- Making necessary corrections and updates.
- Marking the mentor applicant RTBM on Salesforce.
Let's take a look at these process steps in more depth.
1- Searching Salesforce for Duplicate Records
Part of the screening process is searching Salesforce for duplicate contact records and older applications. This ensures that duplicate records are merged which cleans up Salesforce records. Additionally, this search may unearth previously rejected applications that wouldn't have been discovered otherwise. A buddy approver should do the same search to double check that nothing was missed.
2- Reviewing the Mentor Applicant's Demographic Details
A buddy approver should review the mentor's birthdate to ensure they are 21 years of age or older. They should confirm that a valid e-mail address and phone number are populated. This ensures smooth communication during the matching season. Confirm that there is a home address (and a work address, in the case of NYC) input on the applicant's contact record, and that they are the same as listed in the interview transcript (in the event an applicant made a correction that wasn’t reflected in the contact record).
3- Ensuring the Mentor Contract and BG Check Form on File Fields are Checked
A buddy approver should ensure that either the local recruitment team or the application owner has logged the receipt of the Mentor Contract. This field is located in the "Applicant Overview" portion of the Salesforce application. For NYC applicants only, the BG Check Form on File field must also be checked.
4- Reading The Mentor Applicant's Flag(s)
A buddy approver should review any flags listed on the mentor applicant’s Salesforce page. The buddy approver should make sure that the issue has been adequately addressed, and the flag has been resolved and closed before proceeding to the next step.
5- Reading The Match Notes and Mentor Interview In Their Entirety
A buddy approver should review the match notes and mentor interview that have been transcribed by the owning or covering screener. The buddy approver ensures that important critical details were distilled into the match notes by the screener. The buddy approver looks for any red or yellow flags in the mentor interview that may have been missed or overlooked by the screener. The buddy approver also ensures that the mentor has agreed to commit to the length of our program and has a schedule that is conducive to attending events.
6- Reading The Mentor Applicant's Definitions of Abuse
A buddy approver should review the mentor applicant's definitions of physical, emotional and sexual abuse to ensure that they are textbook-style definitions. Definitions should not include references to personal experience or history of abuse, should not contain explicit or offensive language, and should not be so short as to lack a definition altogether. If there are disclosures within the definitions, check that this was communicated and approved by the Associate Director of Screening within “Chatter.” If a screener has approved definitions, but a buddy approver is uncomfortable with the definitions, it should be discussed prior to RTBM-ing the mentor.
7- Reviewing The Mentor Applicant's Preferences
The mentor applicant's preferences are critical for matching. It is important that they are accurately captured in the correct places so that they Program Operations team can report on and utilize this data in making strong matches. Buddy approvers should look to ensure ability to mentor a 12th grader is correctly indicated (either “Yes” or “No” in 12th Grade/Previous Match/Transfer field), that train line preferences are captured (for NYC), borough requirements are selected (if applicable), day of the week restrictions are marked (if applicable), and program length requests are clearly selected. This information should not live only in Match Notes, but should be accurately indicated in the drop down menus and respective fields s so that reports can be generated.
8- Confirming Background Check Approval
A buddy approver should confirm on Salesforce that the status of background check is "Background Check Approved" with a recent eligibility date clearly populated. Because GoPass statuses are regularly refreshed and uploaded, the eligibility date for NYC applicants should be within the past 3 business days. For Chicago, there must be a TCN Number populated in that respective field. For Bay Area Applicants, the buddy approver should also confirm that the status of their TB risk assessment and volunteer forms are “Approved” with an approval date populated.
9- Reviewing Personal and Professional References
Buddy approvers should read all the submitted references in detail while considering the reference's relationship to the mentor applicant. As a reminder, only one approved reference can be from a family member or significant other/spouse, and they must have known the applicant for at least 6 months. Buddy approvers should be looking for any detail that may indicate that the mentor is not a safe and appropriate adult, a lack of commitment, any information about the mentor having obligations that would prevent them from successfully participating for the duration of the program or having any biases that illustrate that they are not interested in engaging in difference. Also ensure that the Confirmation field is checked and that the signature is the same person listed in the Contact Info section (please inform the team/send a Salesforce ticket if not).
10- Confirming The Mentor Applicant Completed a 2 or 4 Year Degree
Buddy approvers should review the collegiate data to confirm that the mentor applicant successfully completed a 2 or 4 year degree at an accredited institution. If a mentor applicant has not completed a degree, but has significant professional experience in their field and a commitment to educational opportunity, they can be submitted for Excemption Approval. The owner should have sent a case for the mentor to the Associate Director of Screening. The Associate Director of Screening will send the case to the Executive Director of that region. If approved, the approval should be recorded in the activity history and match notes of the application. Buddy approvers should confirm exemption approval exists before RTBM-ing.
11- Review The Mentor Applicant's Answers To The Required Disclosures
The buddy approver should review the mentor applicant's answers to the required disclosures questions that import to the Disclosures section of Salesforce. The answers should be 'No' to all questions. Any answers of 'Yes' require that the mentor applicant be approved via by the Associate Director of Screening. This will be noted in "Chatter" on the application.
12- Reviewing the applicant's Mentor Together Application
If a mentor applicant has requested to be matched with a friend or colleague:
- Confirm the mentor together applications are linked together. This includes ensuring the mentor’s app that you are buddy approving is linked to their mentor together buddy match, and visa versa. NOTE: Applications only need to be linked in Salesforce if both parties are currently in the Screening process. If the person that the applicant has asked to Mentor Together with is already RTBM, Matched, withdrawn, or similar, applications do not need to be linked. However, the relevant information should still be captured in Match Notes. Another reason applications may NOT be linked together is if they do not meet the below requirements, and thus are not a viable Mentor Together match.
- Buddy Approvers should confirm the below requirements for each requested Mentor Together match:
- Confirm that the mentor together buddy match’s name is listed in the Match Notes of the app you are buddy approving and visa versa
- Confirm that the mentor’s app that you are buddy approving and their mentor together buddy match do not have restricted days of the week that conflict. (ie. One mentor saying only available on Tuesday and the other mentor saying only available on Wednesday.
- FOR NYC Confirm that at least one set of train lines match on both mentor and buddy match apps.
- FOR NYC Confirm that the mentor and their buddy match have the same location requirement populated so that they are pulled into reports together. (ie. If one mentor says “Brooklyn” location requirement, the other app must match.)
- FOR CHICAGO, BALTIMORE AND NYC Confirm that there are no conflicts in the Weekday Lunches section (ie. one mentor can only do lunches, and the other cannot do lunches).
- Confirm at least one of the applicants identify as a man (woman/woman matches can't generally be accommodated by regions).
- Other regional requirements may be added by the local Volunteer Engagement team (for example, in NYC only allowing mentor together pairs who can travel outside Manhattan). If you are unsure about requirements for a region, reach out to the Screening Manager for the region.
- FOR NYC If at any time you are unsure about the viability of a mentor together buddy match due to an individual’s requirements, please chatter notify the program operations lead
- If applicants are a viable Mentor Together match and their applications are linked, confirm that the field “Willing to be matched without Mentor Together” is marked either Yes or No according to the applicant’s preferences. Confirm that this is also captured in the Match Notes.
You can read more about the Mentor Together process here.
13- Checking Lead Status
Given recent changes on the mentor recruiting side and resulting process changes in Salesforce, the lead status of every applicant should be checked during the buddy approval process. The lead status is located near the bottom of the applicant's contact record and is under Prospect Mentor Journey. The correct lead status for an applicant who is in screening should be Screening Prospective Mentor (SAI/SAC—attended orientation).
14- Making Necessary Corrections and Updates
If the buddy approver notices that any of the conditions above are not met, this should be corrected before marking the applicant as RTBM. If the change is a small administrative error, such as the owning screener forgetting to update an interview date or weeknight preference or forgetting to close a resolved Flag, the Buddy Approver can make the change themselves AS LONG AS it is clear in the application which information is the most correct and up to date. For any larger changes, or where the Buddy Approver is unsure which information is correct, they should chatter notify the owner of the application and request them to make the change needed before marking the applicant as RTBM.
15- Making the Mentor Applicant RTBM
After completing the full buddy approval process and any corrections/adjustments have been made by the applicant owner, it is up to the buddy approver to make the mentor applicant Ready To Be Matched (RTBM). This is to be done as soon as possible within 48 hours, unless otherwise instructed by the Associate Director of Screening. The buddy approver should change the Applicant Status to RTBM in Salesforce and save.
During the period where active screening and matching is happening concurrently, regional recruiting teams may want to get real-time updates about a particular mentor once they have been moved to RTBM. Buddy Approvers will ping the local recruiting teams once that status is updated.