Non-Target Recruiting Guide Part I: Resume and Networking
I just accepted an offer for the summer of 2019 from my dream group at a BB. This website has been invaluable to my recruiting efforts both in terms of interview preparation and networking. I wanted to do my part and write what I feel is a solid and broad guide for freshman at non-core schools.
**Elite school but non-target with some alumni on the street- think Johns Hopkins, CalTech, many of the top LACs.
**GPA & Internship Experience
Freshman summer (2017) did a boutique PE where I gained really good experience.
Sophomore Fall (2017) did a part-time boutique banking internship.
**5 Invited Superdays (2 BBs, EB, and 2 MMs)
1 Turned Down First Round Interview (highly regarded industry specific boutique)
**This guide is primarily targeted at Freshman in their spring semester at non-targets. While it is ideal that you have a summer internship after your freshman year, it will not assume that you do. I am going to break the guide up into 3 sections: resume, networking, and interview prep.
**Use the WSO template or another template you find from a reputable source (M&I, Street of Walls, Whatever)
**Keep your GPA high. Unless you are a stem major (not Finance), you need to have a high GPA as a non-target. They are looking for every excuse to ding you. Given how early recruiting is, it is not hard to keep a 3.8 over three semesters especially in an easy major like Finance or GPA.
You will want a major that is at least semi-related to finance or quantative, so Finance, Math, Computer Science, Engineering, Economics are all good. I recommend finance or economics due to easiness. Also, take easy non-major classes to keep your GPA up.
**Put one business/finance club at your school (max two but think hard about this). This can be an investment fund or a professional development club. I am biased towards investment funds or consulting groups (consulting groups are still great for finance recruiting, especially if they focus on on-profits) because you are doing work similar to the industry. Within this club, I would recommend gunning for leadership. It doesn’t need to be president or VP since you’ll be recruiting early but something that shows initiative, competence, and competitiveness.
I would still recommend participating in a professional development group if it offers good opportunities but no need to spend excessive time involved or put it on your experience (maybe list on activities). Not all non-targets have helpful professional development groups but some (LIBOR and Road to Wall Street at Rutgers for example) I’ve seen give decent opportunities to friends.
So far you have one finance club, also be involved with a non-finance group on campus. This can be student government, club sports, or anything you are interested in. This just demonstrates that you are a round person. I wouldn’t recommend being excessively involved you will need your free time for NETWORKING.
The combination of 1 finance + 1 non-finance club will demonstrate interest but also show that you aren’t a robot.
Also, some non-targets have great investment funds (Temple Fox Fund) which really help their participants come interview time with stock pitches, knowing industry trends, etc. Just make sure that you know what the fuck you are talking about if you put it on your resume.
**If you didn’t do something finance related your freshman summer, don’t panic. You need to do two things.
1) Craft a story for how that thing led you to banking. This needs to be convincing and demonstrate that you have done research into the banking industry. This will obviously be easiest if you did something cool your freshman summer.
2) Get a part-time finance internship during the semester, preferably at a boutique investment bank or PE firm. This shouldn’t be difficult if you go to school near a big city. Remote internships can sometimes provide good experience but this is really hit or miss.
I got interested in investment banking my summer working at a startup because our startup discussed possible fundraising.
I developed an interest in banking last summer when the startup I was working at discussed fundraising. We discussed possible courses of actions and one director had mentioned that competitors had used advisors that marketed them to investors and advised them on financing solutions. The work sounded interesting because X,Y,Z and after learning that bankers do this kind of advisory, I knew that it would be a career I wanted to pursue. My part-time internship has really confirmed that.
If you go into recruiting your spring semester sophomore year with a part-time finance internship and something substantive (regardless of specific industry or role) under your belt, you should be good to go experience wise.
**Recruiting for sophomore summer
**It is ideal to have a sophomore summer offer in hand when you recruit that same semester for your junior summer. I was fortunate to get my 2018 offer 2 weeks before applications opened. I got my 2018 and 2019 offers within 3 months of each other.
I know this is crazy but it’s the nature of the beast. An ideal situation is to convert your part-time internship into a summer offer. That takes the stress of sophomore recruiting away. I know some students who have been recruiting for 2018 and 2019 simultaneously which is just a nightmare.
Also, it is ok to put your incoming role given how early processes are, some banks (for example PJT) explicitly ask for it.
**Interests and Skills
**Just put what you are interested in, I had stupid shit on mine like hiking.
Just one thought, don’t make up anything .
Interviewers LOVE to GRILL people on this section because people lie and don’t think it will be scrutinized. If you say you fucking like Basketball then be sure to be able to speak competently about Basketball. Don’t lie about languages or skills either.
Faking an interest or skill is as close to an auto-ding as there is. I only had two skills on my resume- excel and a foreign language I grew up speaking. I was ready to demonstrate competency on both in my resume.
Also don’t clutter up this section, also its a good place to mention Greek-life affiliation without making pledge-master an entire entry on your resume.
**I started networking with BBs, MMs, and EBs my freshman summer. This was partially because I was gunning for a sophomore BB/EB internship (non-URM). However, given how accelerated recruiting got, it ended up working out on a normal timeline for me. The connections I had made 5-6 months back became really helpful in navigating junior year processes. This is the most important thing as a non-target.
**As you Start Networking
**1) Be generally competent about the industry. A good place to start is reading the M&I interviews with bankers in different product (transaction-type) and coverage (industry) groups as well as the WallStreetPlayboy group summaries that are written. You will not understand all of it as first but it will slowly digest. You need to be competent when emailing bankers
2) Use a tool like boomerang and schedule emails.
3) Don’t email more than 1-2 bankers in the same group and over 5 at the same firm for a BB (2-3 for smaller banks like MMs or EBs). If after 3 replies, these bankers don’t respond. Then you can move on to other bankers. If you are interested in different offices/regionals, diversify that too.
4) I liked to send out 50-60 email waves where Id target a set of firms and then stick with those 50-60 for about a month and a half (3-4 follow ups). Then, I’d start a new wave.
**Getting on the Call
Craft a good template. Mine was 3-4 sentences and similar to the following. I always asked for 15 minutes and never kept them longer unless the conversation was going really well, and even then ask if you could ask one or two more questions .
My name is (First Last). I am a Freshman, Sophomore at (Institution). I have an interest in (product, group, industry, firm) because xyz reasons. Would you have 15 minutes to chat about your work at (firm) in (group)? I would appreciate the chance to learn more about your experience and any advice you may have for someone looking to build a career in the industry. I have attached my resume in case you’d like to know more about me.
**A couple of things
**1) I always attached my resume. Some people say this is pushy, but I think it gaves the banker an opportunity to decide whether you’d have a chance in a process and whether to invest time in you.
2) A good subject is important. I often used the subject “Brief Call.” The banker will likely open it because they are not certain of its content which already grabs their intention.
3) FOLLOWUPS are really important. Bankers are busy. They forget to reply. In my recruiting process, I often sent a total of 3 messages when initiating contact, sometimes 4. If you are going to send a 4th message, space it out 2 weeks after the 3rd.
4) Keep your follow ups brief and always be polite
5) I had the most success emailing bankers between 10 and 11am on Monday through Thursday.
6) SENIOR PEOPLE RESPOND MORE. I had the highest response rates from VPs and MDs. Sometimes if I emailed a senior banker, I was immediately included in a process without speaking. At one bank, I emailed a partner who connected me to an MD who spoke with me and passed on my resume. I received an automatic super day from that bank. NOTE- exercise discretion, senior banker relationships are high risk and high reward. Do not be annoying. Do not uselessly update or ask them questions. Do not spam every MD at a bank.
7) Ask if they would like a calendar invite, some bankers love this intiaitive
**On the Call
**1) Start by thanking them with their time
2) Always have your story, why banking, why x firm, and why x group prepared. You never know when bankers will ask this. They will not help you if you can’t clearly articulate these.
3) Have a plan for the conversation. If they ask how they can help, never mention recruiting. You want to learn about them, the industry, and the bank. Ask them to start with background and then dig in it with specific questions.
4) Make questions a mix of person specific, industry, and firm, and group. There are plenty of WSO posts with good lists of questions. A typical conversation for me went close to this. I liked to go specific to broad
a. What drew him to X Bank/Group (sometimes this is touched on in their story, if so don’t ask again but you can ask them to elaborate on certain points.
b. How big the team is and junior/senior professionals?
c. How are deal teams typically structured
d. What surprised him most when he began
e. Qualities he sees in the best analysts
f. What advice he would give to someone in your position looking to build a career in the industry, especially from a non-core school
Smart questions are a good way to impress but don’t talk out of your ass. I never really learned how to ask granular questions about banking, my guess is they would be process related. But for example, when networking with PE firms that have analysts programs, I would dig into the investments the individual I was speaking to had made and ask them questions about the investment and industry.
**After the Call
**1) Always send a thank you note. Include something from the conversation that you enjoyed to make yourself memorable.
2) Plan to keep in touch every 3-4 months, but don’t be annoying. Update them with good news like sophomore offers, investment club wins, or just general catch-up calls. I used general catch-up calls and tried to make the second call more personal.
3) Try to meet them for coffee if possible. Even if you cant, 1-2 casual calls after the intitial informational puts you in a really good spot for recruiting.
4) There are better posts on maintaining the relationship
**Asking for the Push
**1) The best way to do this is to have a catch-up call near the time the application opens. On the call, ask them if they “have any advice on navigating the recruiting process without OCR”. This is subtle but bankers will get the message. They will either offer to push your resume or side-step the question. The relationship will not be tanked if they side-step and you can continue to build rapport with them. I only once asked directly for a push and that was a contact that was really close.
2) If they offered to do it on an earlier call, reference their offer. For example, “If it is still ok, I would like to take you up on your offer from our previous call to do xyz.”
**General Tips on Networking and Processes
**1) Be thankful and appreciate of their time
2) Don’t try to impress them, be genuinely curious and competent. Try to get them to like you and believe in your potential.
3) Often times, regional offices (like LA, Chicago) and SF groups will run recruiting outside of HR. This is by far the easiest ways to get interviews. For one of my interviews, I just emailed a VP who CC’ed the analyst running recruiting. We hopped on a call, and I was included in their process.
4) Start with alumni first
5) Use a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts and banks. I also liked to write down the likelihood a contact would help me.
**PE Analyst Recruiting
**While these spots are more coveted and less available, there is also less red tape to cut through. Getting an initial interview can be significantly easier at many top PE firms that hire analysts. Yes, the process is more competitive but as a nontarget your biggest issue is the getting into the door. You’ll have to just crush it from there.