Advice for Non-Targets - Hitting "Apply" Button on LinkedIn Isn't Enough

JuicyJuice's picture
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,281

I received a message on LinkedIn from someone looking to get into IB a couple weeks back, in which the individual explained his situation and couldn't understand why he isn't seeing progress. The general gist (confidentiality in mind) is that he applied to many jobs through LinkedIn as a non-target but has yet to hear from anyone. The first thing I asked him was if he reached out directly to the job poster or individuals within groups before applying. His answer was no.

Fellow non-targets - reach out to someone directly and get them on the phone or in-person

You should see how IB groups go through resumes during recruiting season, and this is assuming you make it past the HR screen. You are going up against analysts (in some cases) being begged to come join their program, with close to perfect GPAs, adequate deal experience, and sharp as nails. They can afford to casually apply and wait for a response.

Although we don't have this luxury, we all have the luxury of taking advantage of the fact most job prospects are willing to do the bare minimum. I initiated my current job with a cold email, expressing my interest. I then directly reached out to the MD asking for a sit down to learn more about his group. This turned into a all day interview setup for the following week. After ultimately landing the job, the MD told me no one had ever expressed as much interest in joining his team as I did. He didn't care so much that my GPA wasn't stellar or my deal experience was basically nonexistent. He cared that I cared to better myself and make a continuous effort to get in the door.

Will interviews/offers happen overnight? Absolutely not. Does it get frustrating? Absolutely. Just as I told the individual who messaged me, you have to get out of your comfort zone and initiate a conversation that shows a person why they should want to hire you.

As unoriginal as it sounds, never give up. Seriously. I don't want to see you guys give up because you're afraid to put yourself out there.

Other note - You'd be surprised how many people in Investment Banking are no smarter than you... Target or not.

Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #30 for the past year

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Comments (38)

Nov 30, 2016

Great Post. SB'd

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Best Response
Nov 30, 2016

caveat .. make sure you know your shit. just finished a few in-persons that were absolute dog shit.

First kid networked like crazy to land the interview and the second's dad networked for him. I am guessing technicals were not asked in the phone screening because these kids did not know their heads from their assholes.

They would have been better off answering everything with "I don't know" . Asked one kid to derive free cash flows starting from net income and he ended up talking about capitalizing revenue. Asked the second how he would derive terminal value, and he referenced a net income to EBITDA multiple. This is the second time in 12 months a candidate has mentioned net income to ebitda multiple to arrive at terminal value - one did it in a case study that he had a week to complete, and both swear they obtained BIWS certification. I blame Brian. Thanks a lot Brian

edit: and yeah bro, I am mad

Nov 30, 2016

should have gone with WSO... ;-)

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Nov 30, 2016

Read about why he left the WSO partnership he had with you on the ib courses. Sounded pretty lame on his part no offense.

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Dec 1, 2016

Frankly, I've wanted to write a post on this. Haven't had a look at WSP, but I did look at BIWS since I could torrent it (yeah I'm a scumbag, but I was also broke. I doubt Brian's ever going to be hanging out here though).
BIWS is shit. The models are too basic, and wouldn't help you on the job. The cheatsheets were much better though. The amount of handholding during the course is just too high - not much scope for independent learning. Thankfully, I decided to switch over and focus my time solely on Vault Guide and Pearl & Rosenbaum, and that has made all the difference. R&P's models are detailed, and might stymie you in the beginning, but one trial model and you're good to go.
I would say the same about Victor Cheng too. Not as bad as BIWS, but there is better stuff out there.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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Nov 30, 2016

I was being sarcastic about BIWS... I am sure all of the resources out there give you the capability to land an ENTRY level position. Google provides enough info for entry level roles, but the benefit of a program, in my opinion, is structure. To be honest, I was not aware of any resource out there other than BIWS (I was sure they existed, but didn't take the time to research), and I actually thought the amount of content available was overwhelming for someone in search of intern/entry level competency. From my own experience, friends, students at undergrad and new candidates who have gone through BIWS, those who have completed the program seem to miss the forest for the trees.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is if you are going to network in an attempt to land a job, be sure you are technically competent; otherwise, those that put the neck on the line for you will look like idiots, and you will have ruined those bridges.

Dec 1, 2016

Well I'll confess. Haven't taken a look at the new BIWS videos - the torrented ones were somewhat older.
But even then, I would say even the old P&R was notches above BIWS. Highly robust models, though they may seem a bit intimidating at first due to their sheer size. BIWS, on the other hand, might be useful for pre-experience SA roles, but surely not after you've gained work ex. Nor was it good for revising before interviews - but at least the cheat sheets helped.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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Nov 30, 2016

Vault is old & generic. I'd say WSO guides, WSP, and Rosenbaum should do the trick.

Nov 30, 2016

@Frank Quattrone" definitely would be interested in reading this if you made a full post.

Dec 1, 2016

I'll do one, as soon as I find the time to go through WSP too. Maybe come Christmas, and I'll find the time.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Dec 8, 2016

I learned some basics from WSP - I like them a lot, and they will answer your questions in a timely manner. I think the site was called Edumy, but you could find WSP classes on there for $10 occasionally. I've had a few cases on WSO where the OP is having trouble getting the balance sheet to balance, and you see some reallllly odd things - it wasn't a rarity to hear them say they followed BIWS. I've never used BIWS, just saying what I've seen from those who claim to use it.

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Nov 30, 2016

I think sometimes people in IB need to cool it on the technicals during networking calls but during an interview anything is fair game.

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Dec 13, 2016

I've never, ever gotten anything close to a technical during a networking call. Maybe try to steer the conversation to another topic?

Dec 1, 2016

Flipside to that caveat: this might have been their first finance interview and there is an element of nerves and discomfort involved. Not an excuse, but I am in a similar position as a non-target student with no formal finance education. Going into my first technical interview, I looked like an idiot, and walking out of the office, I knew how badly I messed up some relative softball Qs. I guess it's a different story if they actually didn't know the answer.

Gimme the loot

Dec 8, 2016

What would you say is the correct way to derive terminal value?

I personally would suggest Gordon growth or Enterprise Value/EBITDA, depending on the company.

Nov 30, 2016

"I personally would suggest Gordon growth or Enterprise Value/EBITDA"

not sure of any other way - I have seen a revenue exit multiple, but that was a distressed company without earnings.

I typically use Gordon growth, then back-solve to the implied EBITDA exit multiple.

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Nov 30, 2016

Advice is spot on. Just had this exact experience. If you want the job more than others why not show it?

Dec 1, 2016

Nice insight. +1 sb.

Dec 1, 2016

Small anecdote that relates to your post. I come from a non target with a poor gpa and when I was fresh out of college looking for a job I literally walked in a guys office who I had heard through the grapevine was looking for an ER analyst. He was so shocked that I just showed up like that (I was coming from another interview and was wearing a suit with resume in hand) and I had an on the spot interview. Ultimately did not get the job but I learned a lot and got some great feedback from the guy, he told me he has never seen anyone do what I did before. With all that said I was extremely lucky as this guy ran a really small shop and it just so happened that he was the only one in the office which enabled me to walk right in, but you will never know until you try.

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Dec 1, 2016

Did he tell you why you didn't make the cut? I would've taken you in, just for the sheer tenacity. Too many candidates lack the spine these days.
Imho training you shouldn't have been a problem if he was the ONLY guy in the office.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Dec 1, 2016

He gave me a modeling test and my skills weren't quite up to snuff and he said he didn't have the time to train me from where I would have started. Totally understandable because at this point in my job search I had no idea what I was doing which is why I mentioned I learned a lot from this experience that I was able to use going forward. Hindsight being 20/20 i'm happy with how everything worked out.

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Dec 1, 2016

Great job! Few candidates ever learn from their past mistakes and see the good in them.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Dec 1, 2016

Isn't this pretty common knowledge? Is it really that easy at a target just to submit your resume and that's all it takes?

I was always under the impression non-target or target almost every single kid networked their ass off to break in. Maybe I am way off the mark?

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Dec 2, 2016

While you're right, a surprising number of people need to hear this. It's not even funny how many people emailed me AFTER recruiting and were like "hey I go to non target and applied a month ago and no one replied so wanted to follow up"

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Dec 3, 2016

I got the opportunity to temp for a PE firm awhile back through a cold-call, actually.

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Dec 5, 2016

@JuicyJuice Do you apply first and then reach out, or just reach out saying that you saw the job posting? Or do you send a standard networking email without even bringing up the posting?

Dec 30, 2016

Reach out then Apply. The key is not to waste your time.

Dec 12, 2016

I applied for a job then reached out to a recruiter. She forwarded me to the head recruiter, who invited me to apply online and said a phone screen would be the best time to ask questions and that she looks forward to being in touch.

Should I try to get someone in my target group at the firm on the phone, or are my efforts better spent somewhere else?

Dec 30, 2016

You are just about in the door. Nail the phone screen and prepare intelligent questions to ask and go from there. Have a written script in front of you in case you get stuck.

Good luck man.

Dec 8, 2016

I went to HBS and have many friends who did the IB analyst programs prior to HBS.

From what I can tell about their experiences, quite a few were smart but also had significant connections into their firms (dad on board of a company who gives the bank business, for example). These are kids with 3.6+ GPAs at HYPS, who might have got a couple interviews on their own, but end up getting every interview because of the connection. The next group consists of the similarly qualified kids who don't have the connection. These kids get a few interviews, and a lucky subset among these are able to land an offer somewhere. The last group was just the others/outliers who got very lucky or really hustled in a variety of ways to land an analyst spot.

I've never done a study or a formal pole, but my anecdotal evidence would say the first group is significantly larger than the latter two.

The funny thing is how accurately it can be predicted at times. Whenever you see a hot HBS girl who studied political science in college and was an analyst at MS, ask her about her family. Chances are somebody in that family was something special to the firm.

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Dec 8, 2016

I'm really curious, do you think MD's have the time/will to respond to an e-mail and not be annoyed?

Let me hear you say, this shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Dec 30, 2016

Would you rather waste time wondering whether or not to reach out to an MD because he might be busy? Or go ahead and reach and see what happens?

MDs aren't Gods (although some pretend they are). They are people too. Also remember Bankers love talking about their own careers.

Dec 9, 2016

So what would be a general strategy to approach someone in the industry? Reach out and ask them out their experience and advice, then subtly ask them about an internship at their firm? Given that these people get at least a few calls per season, don't they understand that there is an ulterior motive for the conversation: to use them to get into his firm? Am I overthinking this?

Dec 30, 2016

Expressing interest to an MD is the hardest step of all. Think about it: MDs have tons of connections internally and externally. They most likely will know who is hiring and who isn't. Don't get me wrong and assume all have time to talk to a kid trying to land a spot. But, assume that some do.

Big mistake many people make is trying to get hired in the first conversation. If you structure reaching out in a conversational way, the MD will respond as a mentor/friend would.

Dec 17, 2016

Just finished recruiting from a non-target and landed at a top 3 BB. The one piece of advice I can personally give is to try and establish genuine relationships with the bankers that are willing to get on the phone with you and to try and meet in person with them over the summer right before recruiting starts. This shows to them that you're willing to do whatever it takes to get a shot and is something that even a lot of core kids won't do. That combined with knowing your technicals like the back of your hand will ensure you get some kind of shot.

Dec 22, 2016

Congrats on the JPM offer!

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Dec 30, 2016
Apr 6, 2017